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Choosing Between Custom and Stock Photography

Creating quality original content through custom photography can be overlooked in an era where imagery can wrongly feel disposable. Brands spend so much time creating the perfect logos and branding but may forgo the proper budget allocation to create great photography, an integral part in establishing brand identity. Here’s why it may be more important than you think to create great visuals, and when using stock photography can work to your advantage.


Your photos should be an extension of your brand identity. Consumers can often spot a stock photo and even worse will likely feel your brand is inauthentic if they have seen a photo you are showing elsewhere. This is why great brands work very hard to have their photos be as recognizable as their fonts or logos. This should be on your mind as you grow, but can be hard to achieve if you can’t control factors like elements, models, color schemes, and art direction.

Make your vision come to life

It’s your business, so wouldn’t you want to have your own images representing it? Custom photography allows you to have control over the thoughts and emotions being conveyed by your brand. In terms of marketing, that’s extremely important. You then have the power to ensure that you make the right visual impact on your audience.

Original photography for Maria, an interior designer.
It’s not as expensive or disposable as some might think

Photoshoots are a long-term investment, it can sometimes be easy to overlook this. Take Instagram, stories disappear in 24 hours and some posts may even be missed. However, looking at research from GlobalWebIndex, 50% of Instagram users conduct product research on the social network. Meaning a potential customer is likely to visit your profile, and from there you’ll have just a few moments to tell you brandy story. Additionally, Fleishman-Hillard reports that 89% of customers begin their purchase journey with a search engine. When a consumer reaches your website, are you going to want them to see a stock photo or a photo that tells the story of your brand in seconds?

Sometimes It’s Okay To Use Stock Photography

There are some instances where it makes sense to use Stock Photography. It often comes down to time, budget, and the tools you have at your disposal. Here are a few instances where using stock photography may be to our advantage.

1. Planning for your photoshoot: There are a number of great royalty free resources that offer more depth than Google images (Unsplash for example). Use these to save time when creating website mockups, demonstrate what you are trying to achieve in a photo shoot, or when you’re trying to dial in your branding in the early planning stages.

Stock photo used for inspiration
Custom photography for Genieve Burley’s website

2) Generic or ‘impossible’ shots: If you need a lifestyle photo, say of an aerial shot or a more general photo that is not showcasing your product or services, stock photos might be the right choice as you likely don’t have a helicopter ride in your budget.

Want to talk more about branding or photos?

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