Stock Photography or Real Photography?

Humans are visual beings. Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than they can decode text. Since we are limited in the amount of information we can process at once, it is easy to see why visual information takes priority in our brains over textual information, since it is so much more easily processed. Visual content makes up 93% of all human communication.

So, what does this have to do with web design? Studies have shown that website visitors stay longer when there is compelling visual content. And, the longer they stay, the more likely it is that they will respond to a website’s CTA (call to action). With over 1.5 billion individual pieces of content on the internet, the competition for your future client’s attention is fierce. It is crucial that you do what it takes to make sure your website stands out from your competitors’. Using your own authentic photography, instead of stock photographs, is a perfect way to do that. Here are a few reasons why.

Authentic. High-resolution, professional photography on your website will make your site more authentic. People can spot fake from a mile away and often won’t engage with you if that’s what they think you are. They are looking to work with or purchase from real people, not a paid model in a stock photograph.

A site filled with images that have no purpose or personal connection will have your visitors leaving as quickly as they came. Even though most people probably recognize that the image of a smiling person, wearing a headset, looking like they want to help you is not actually employed by your company, it is important to remember that trust is built through authentic relationships. Hopefully, you care about your customers and the relationships that you cultivate with them. Hopefully, you desire to create an even better connection with them. Custom photography that genuinely represents your brand will help. Stock photography can do nothing in terms of building trust with future clients because it cannot give them a true representation of your brand. So, whose faces should be on your website? The real human beings that you employ. The faces of the people who will be answering your phones, working on the line in your warehouse, and those sitting at desks who keep your business running. Instead of opting for stock photography, get real shots of your products, your people, and interactions that represents your brand.

Advantageous. Using stock photos can cheapen your website. Adding high-quality, first-hand photography has been proven to increase traffic to sites, improving SEO value and decreasing bounce rates. Though it may be a higher investment initially, custom photography can really help you stand out against competitors. Stock photos may be a more attractive choice because they are convenient and cheap, but they portray lower value for your goods and/or services in the long run. It is much more advantageous to invest in your own photographs. Why? According to a study done by MDG Advertising, 67% of online shoppers rated high quality images as being “very important” to their purchasing decisions. Taking your own photos allows you to show off the most important aspects of your business, and encourages future customers to make the decision to purchase from your company. As an added bonus, investing in original photography also allows you to build a library of images that can be used for future projects.

Guaranteed Originality.  Whether you take your own photos or hire a professional photographer, there is an absolute guarantee that the images will not be used anywhere else. Not to mention, no one can communicate the same message that you do through your photos. You can be almost certain when using stock images that those images will come up on potentially hundreds of other sites. This only serves to cheapen your website’s value, and lowering your potential clients’ opinion of your company. Original photos will help your site stay relevant, professional, and engaging.

Your Story. Images help tell stories. Any great children’s book is full of great images because they help tell the story.  Users will not understand the story of your company or who you fully are without great, high-quality photos. Great, original photography will be what you want and need to accurately convey your story on your website, as opposed to using stock photos which portray someone else’s vision. You wouldn’t expect to find pictures in a book to be unrelated to the story being told. We will say it again, building trust with your customers is key! And, beautiful, authentic images on websites that help tell the story of your brand have been proven to help build trust with customers. Custom photography means you won’t have to settle for a “decent” photo but can almost guarantee that you will get the exact shot that you want. It also presents you with the opportunity to capture an image that is unique, either in its style or how you communicate your brand. You ultimately want your future clients to get to know you and your brand, not a vague idea of who you are and what you offer from someone else’s stock photos.

Adding beautiful and captivating visual content to a website really does go a long way. Some people think that as long as you have images on your website, it does not matter if it was taken with a smartphone, is a stock image bought from a website, or if you hire a professional photographer to capture it. The opposite could not be truer. Just because the images are there, does not mean that they are compelling. High-quality photography will draw your potential client’s attention and increase their engagement with your brand.

Contact STORY today to get professional photography and art direction for your company’s website.



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Ben Pettit

Chief Creative at STORY.