Stock Photography – Can You Really Afford It?

Why Use Stock Photography?

For many years advertisers have taken advantage of lower pricing for generic stock photography for their marketing efforts, whether for print advertising or for website use. Professional photography costs money, and stock photography is cheap. But there’s a dirty little secret in the use of stock. You may have no control over who else is using the same image to represent their company. This can lead to customer confusion and marketing embarrassment. Just ask the marketing departments at Dell and Gateway computers.

Dell and Gateway use the same stock photography model for competing ads

In the earlier days of stock photography it was harder to track who else was using an image. In one particular season, both Dell computers and Gateway computers selected stock images for their back to school advertising. Unfortunately they selected images of the same model, in the same wardrobe, in front of the same building, from the same photo shoot. And the ads ran at the same time! It somewhat waters down your advertising message when the same girl appears to endorse your competition!

Wanadoo selects a popular stock photo model
Even if you change the color of the clothing and flip the photo, it's still the same model

How To Use Stock Photography

So how do you avoid this type of embarrassment? There are two primary ways. One method would be using rights-managed (RM) images rather than royalty-free (RF) images, and the other would be to use custom photography.

Royalty-Free Images

RF images are by far the cheapest. They are sold to anyone and everyone, and you have no idea who else may be using that image. You may use an online source like Tin Eye (https://tineye.com/) to search for other websites hosting your same image. Alternately you may use Google’s Image search to look for the same thing. That will give you an idea of how many times that image is being used online, although neither may know of all uses of an image.

Rights-Managed Images

Alternately you may purchase RM images, which come at a higher price. The benefit of RM is that you can ensure that either no one uses that image for a set length of time, or at least that no one else in your industry uses it. Pricing varies based on how much exclusivity you want and for how long. This is usually considered to be the best compromise between bulk RF images and custom photography.

The Safest Solution: Custom Photography

The other option would be to contract custom photography by a professional photographer. There are numerous advantages to this option, although it will come at a higher price tag. You have total control over all elements of an image – colors, style, your own colors or branding, and more importantly the usage. A professional photographer can create images using your own employees, or models you select, and can guarantee that only you have the right to use those images. Further, the models can be contracted to not work (or have their images used) with a competing company. Recent advertising showing the former “Can you hear me now” guy representing a competing telecom beautifully highlights this problem.

The Verizon guy goes to Sprint

What message does this give your customers when a (now) well-known spokesman leaves your company to go to the competition?

Custom photography can and will reinforce your brand, and over time build a familiarity with which your customers can relate. Is it worth it? Only your customers and accountant can tell you that, but (in my humble opinion) images that are created specifically for your company are going to resonate more, which should lead to a greater ROI for you and your bottom line. To learn how custom photography can help your company give Morton Visuals a call at (888) 239-6213. We’ll be happy to brainstorm with you and your marketing department.

 

 

The Value of Photography to Your Business

I recently had an opportunity to do a presentation on business photography for my Farmers Branch Chamber of Commerce, and I decided to focus on the value of photography for the business owner. In the first of two parts below we’ll talk about the value of, the need for, and the types of photography relevant to most businesses.

How Prevalent are Photos?

Some basic numbers, which will be quickly outdated (if they aren’t already):

  • Facebook has 1.5 billion users, 2/3 of whom use it daily
  • 56.5% of the US population are on Facebook
  • Facebook has over 400 billion photos, with 400 million being added every day
  • Every day 1.8 billion images are posted online
  • Instagram has amassed 400 million users, 40 billion photos, and adds 80 million photos every day
  • Instagram has grown so quickly that Facebook just bought it for $1 billion.
  • YouTube has more visits each day than Facebook, and it’s the #2 search engine in the world (behind Google)

[Update 2/10/2017: Some new, updated stats are available. Internet Trends 2017. Stats & Facts in the U.S. and Worldwide]

Why Are Photos So Popular?

Life moves at a much faster pace today than in decades past. Our shorter attention spans are likely born of our information overload. The advent and pervasiveness of smartphones and mobile devices have changed the way we not only receive information but also how we communicate. We want immediate gratification. We don’t want to leave voice messages, so we text – allowing responses even if someone is in class or in a business meeting where they can’t talk. Business is now about information availability and speed (and ease) of transactions. And of course “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” I believe that this last point is the key. We don’t have – or take – the time to read anymore, but rather take in our information in imagery. Thus the rise of the Facebook meme.

Types of Photography

More to the point of the presentation, there are many types of photography of benefit to businesses.

  • Portraits represent people
  • Advertising represents a product or brand
  • Marketing and P.R. represent events
A few of the types of photography offered by William Morton Visuals.

What Can a High Quality Image Do For You?

  •  Put a face to the name
  • Change you from an impersonal corporation to a friendly neighbor
  • Show your style (see our prior blog post on Does Your Image Represent Your Company Culture)
  • Personalize your business
  • Illustrate what you do and how you do it

studio-setting business photographyComerica Bank manager photographed by William Morton Visualsbusiness photography by Morton Visuals for First Bank annual reportoffice group portrait of Labrum Wealth Management

 Other benefits include:

  • Highlighting key moments of events for marketing next year’s event
  • Public relations: awards presentations, community support events
  • Social media content – build your brand
  • Entertainment, particularly at events
  • Take-home advertising for ongoing marketing

Do images affect sales?

According to MDG Advertising, 67% of online shoppers rated high quality images as being “very important” to their purchase decision, which was slightly more than “product specific information,” “long descriptions,” and “reviews & ratings.”

Recently Sports Illustrated magazine released their annual swimsuit edition with three different covers – and they weren’t the first to do this. The magazine industry well knows how important the cover image is to that month’s sales on the newsstands. National Geographic photography is famous for the power of their images, a driving force in their success.

Images are king in social media. Aside from the fact that more and more social media channels are primarily image-based (Instagram, Snapchat, 500px, Flickr, etc.), statistics show that even text-based social media channels show a significantly higher ROI with the inclusion of photography. Adweek reports that SHIFT measured 5 times the engagement on Twitter postings with pictures vs text-only tweets.

In our follow-up blog post we’ll discuss the acquisition of photography and how important that process is to businesses. Until then, please feel free to share this article via social media, and add any comments here!

Morton Visuals Launches New Website

William Morton announces the launch of a newly designed website for Morton Visuals photography in San Diego.

William Morton announces the launch of a brand new version of the Morton Visuals commercial photography website. Taking advantage of liveBooks technology, the new site focuses on corporate and commercial photography, fashion, events, and transportation-related images.  The new site marks an expanded marketing effort by Morton Visuals for the 2010 year. Please visit and let William know what you think!

William Morton Visuals' new photography website
www.MortonVisuals.com