When it comes to designing websites there are two main elements that we work with as designers, and that is typography and images.
If you break down some of best websites on the web you’ll find these two elements have been thought through thoroughly. As a web company, we see websites everyday and it’s always obvious when a company has opted for low budget stock photography instead of using custom photography that has been produced with a specific purpose in mind. Stock photography is definitely a cheaper option, and in some instances it is suitable, but generally we find that it does not provide the same positive impact as custom photography.
For example, stock photography will always give that impersonal feel to a website or business. You can quickly become part of the generic corporate crowd that use the dreaded ‘business handshake’ imagery. This can ruin your chances of coming across as unique and ultimately result in losing potential clients even before they’ve read your content on how your service/product is better than your competitors.
Stock can also affect the design process as designers are forced to search and choose images that aren’t fit for purpose or don’t reflect the look and feel you requested in the brief. This results in a diluted and sometimes confused message to your client.
Custom photography will always be more expensive but it really is worth investing in as a set of custom photos can be used across all marketing materials, not just your website, to represent your business. You will have complete control of the outcomes instead of trying to work your messaging around stock imagery. Having real employees used in the pictures will give a reassuring and personable feel to your marketing, particularly for a small business where your clients can get to know the faces they’ve seen on the website.
We are currently creating a new website for Emma Waddingham Consulting and they commissioned photos as part of the launch:
“What I love about commissioning photography projects is that you’re in control and the budget actually goes further once you’ve set it. Also, the time and effort taken to source stock imagery and then pay for it can really rack up. Ultimately with custom photography, you’ll have a bank of images to use across all marketing platforms ensuring your brand story is visualised, your marketing messages have added context and your clients know who they’re dealing with from day one.”
Emma Waddingham, Director, Emma Waddingham Consulting
So, which is right for you?
If you’re selling a product, then custom photography is key. Your customers will always need to see an accurate view of what they’re buying as they won’t be able to physically assess it like they can in shop.
Multi-angles and situational shots may be needed to make your product shine. Selling a lifestyle not just a product has always been a proven marketing trick. You simply cannot achieve this level of tailor made imagery using stock photos.
Producing custom photography for your website can be a daunting task if you haven’t handled this type of project before. Luckily you already have two people on your side. One will be the very excited designer who will be more than happy to help, as it will make their life easier and your website look a million times better. The second person is the photographer. They don’t bite and they really help you to get the most for your money and produce exactly what you require.
We regularly work with Magenta Photography and they have always proved the benefits of using custom photography over stock photography.
To close, is stock photography a good idea? In some instances yes, it is useful if you have a low budget but you run the risk of blending in with the crowd.
Custom photography, on the other hand, is a safe investment and the images can be used in all sorts of versatile ways. You will also have total control over the look and feel of the imagery which can be planned out with a designer and photographer. The result will be a website that illustrates your businesses’ identity and make you shine above all your competitors.