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 Acquisition of Photography for Your Business

In our previous post we discussed the value of photography. Today we will talk about about how you can acquire quality photography for your business.

If you need images for your business’ use, you can follow one of three avenues:

  1. Take your own snapshot – Do It Yourself
  2. Use a stock photo
  3. Hire a professional photographer to create custom images (which only you will have)

The type of imagery needed and your budget can help determine which is the best course of action, of course, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind as you make decisions for your business.

Snapshots vs Professional Photography

William Morton, IT Manager and Staff Photographer for Camera Ready Cosmetics Studio portrait of photographer William Morton

Hopefully everyone can see a clear difference between the images above. The first image looks more like a dreaded driver’s license photo, or the “Employee of the Month” you sometimes see posted in a grocery store. The second image is clearly a studio portrait showing a person “in their environment,” and illustrates what they do.

The examples below show the view an audience member may get at an event versus what a professional event photographer can capture.

photography from the audience professional event photography by William Morton Visuals

Stock Photography

Many businesses consider stock photography to be an affordable option, as stock photography prices have dropped significantly over the last few years. If you want a generic image of a telephone or a computer, or a random customer service operator, then stock photography may work. However you won’t likely find images of your employees, and it’s even less likely you’ll find images of your management team. Likewise with any public relations events – stock images won’t be of your event, or your people.

Stock photography is also pretty recognizable. It usually features ridiculously good looking models in perfectly pressed clothing, always in solid (and usually bright) colors. For this reason it’s less believable. And recent studies have shown that customers are 1/3 more likely to purchase based on an ad showing a real person rather than a stock model.

Stock photography is, by definition, stock – meaning anyone and everyone has access to use the same images. This can cause confusion, and embarrassment, when the same model shows up in ads for your competition. Don’t think it can happen? Check out this article on Stock Photography from the American Society of Media Photographers. It’s not just the small businesses – even giants like Dell and Gateway can use the same model in the same outfit and the same setting for Back To School ads during the same month. Oops!!

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

The girl pictured above is one of the most popular stock models in the world. See just a few examples of how often her image is used in advertising and you can start to see some of the confusion that could arise if your competitor is showing that she “switched to X brand” after your ad had run.

Hire a Professional Photographer

A professional photographer can ensure that you have high quality images customized to your exact needs, and images that only you will have. We have previously shared 10 Reasons to Hire a Professional Photographer, which is a great start. Key points are that a pro will have the experience and the means to ensure that your photo shoot is successful and meets your needs, on time and on budget. The pro knows how to make you look your very best, both photographically and with professional retouching.

The photography portfolios on this site show a variety of photography now available in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, including commercial photography, corporate portraits, and event photography . Another valuable resource that we recommend for photographic talent nationwide as the American Society of Media Photographers’ Find-A-Photographer database. The ASMP site allows you to search by geographic location as well as photographic specialty – and features many of the best professional photographers in the country.

Have any questions? Please feel free to give Morton Visuals a call (toll-free) at 888-239-6213, or email us. We’re happy to help! Have any comments or suggestions? Please feel free to comment here. And of course please feel free to share this article on your social media!