There’s been much debate this week in the office about what qualifies as ‘bad’ stock photography. Most stock image sites approve the content published on their sites, so poorly framed, out of focus and badly exposed imagery is not the problem. We’re talking about the changing industry and how you need to be streetwise when sourcing stock images for your business.
You already know the importance and value of your brand, so you’ll want to make sure the stock images you use on your site will represent and complement your company effectively.
Before we discuss the impact of using online stock images, let’s take a look at this example.
This is technically a great image. There’s no denying it. It might work well for a large corporate business selling, for example, car insurance. But if you are a business which is looking to establish a unique identity within your industry, this is not going to do the job. It’s simply not going to set you apart from all the other businesses out there.
How is stock photography changing?
Stock photography platforms such as Getty and Shutterstock are seeing an increase in purchases for images that are relatable – that show real human emotion and experience. We want to see images that show real people living and working in believable situations, rather than air brushed and technically flawless shots.
Images that show perfect people in a perfect world are becoming less common. Bosses are recognising that images such as the one here are not going to be effective in creating a relationship with their customers or clients. They just don’t project the personality of their company.
This does not mean that stock images should never be used. For example, a firm of solicitors posting blog content might use such images as accompanying thumbnails to emails, as they portray professionalism and quality.
The Instagram Effect
Instagram is a massive influence on the style of image that people are viewing. Instagram’s filter tool enables images to be edited to improve their technical quality whilst retaining their authentic feel. Searches with the term ‘filtered images’ increased by 661% in 2013, with no signs of the trend slowing down. Brands are increasingly using Instagram as one of their chosen social media platforms, as they can post their own images to portray the company ethos and personality.
While acknowledging the power of Instagram, it is often worth investing in a professional photographer rather than depending either on amateur shots or stock images. A professional photographer will be skilled at producing images which provide the authenticity you are looking for while at the same time promoting your brand.
So, whether it’s the background image on your website, a thumbnail at the foot of your emails or a picture on a poster, it all comes down to what you believe will enhance your brand. But finding a stock image, while convenient, is not always the answer. In some circumstances, it may portray an identity which, at best, does little to enhance your brand and, at worst, may even damage it.
What are your views on stock photography? Do you prefer using professional photography or are you a regular stock user? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment below or share if you think our blog could be useful to someone in your circle.