Stock photos are relatively cheap, extremely easy to acquire, and at first glance, they generally look neat and professional. Consequently, companies are often tempted to use stock photos in their advertising campaigns. It just seems so simple, right?
Sure! It is simple! But it’s also a trap.
Simple does not equal good. Stock photos may be convenient, but they are not necessarily effective. If you want your company’s visual content to catch consumers’ attention, you need to partner with a professional advertising photographer.
Here’s the thing about stock photos; all of the qualities that initially make them so appealing are actually drawbacks in disguise. Before slapping a stock photo onto your advertisement and calling it a day, take a moment to consider the consequences.
Cost Effective or Inefficient?
Saving money is great! We all like to do it. However, stock photos are not always the economical choice they’re made out to be. Between licensing fees and usage limitations, using stock photos for advertising can end up costing more than expected in the long run.
Hiring a professional advertising photographer may be more expensive upfront, but it’ll leave you with a library of unique and compelling images that your company can use in perpetuity without fear of proprietary issues.
Accessible or Overused?
The sheer availability of stock photos is a double edged sword. The fact that they’re easy to obtain may seem like a blessing at first blush, but consider the implications; if you found the perfect stock photo to advertise your product or service, your competitors may have found it and decided to use it as well. If you want your company to stand out, you’d do well to avoid such photo faux pas.
Slick or Soulless?
Stock photos tend to look crisp and clean in a way that shoots past “corporate” and comes off as cold. Consumers don’t respond to images that feel aloof and impersonal — they respond to images that feel human and heartfelt. Professional advertising photographers know how to craft images that look professional without looking sterile.
Ubiquity vs Brand Identity
Perhaps the most important reason to avoid stock photos is their ubiquity. Stock photos are intentionally generic — the visual equivalent of the blank slate literary protagonist designed for audience projection. This universality makes them useful for some applications, but advertising is not one of them.
Stock photos are, by nature, ambiguous and open to interpretation. The images you use to advertise your company should be neither of these things; rather, they should reflect the unique style and character of your brand. Partnering with a professional advertising photographer is a surefire way to acquire visual content that captures and fortifies your brand identity in a way stock photos cannot.
Don’t give in to the siren song of the stock photo. Do right by your company and invest in professional advertising photography. You’ll reap the benefits for years to come.