There is a lot of misunderstanding of what stock photography actually means and the phrase is often used with negative connotations; in fact, whether it’s for digital or print design, both custom images and stock photography have roles to play.
Sometimes a client tells us they’ve heard that they shouldn’t use stock photography on their collateral, so they’d like us to use their own images. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this, experience tells us that we may be about to run into problems, whether with image size, style, composition, message or content.
For some businesses, we would definitely recommend bespoke images for their collateral: visual artists, cake decorators and other creatives whose personal talent is their selling point; hotels and event centres who want to show off their unique facilities; companies with original products, or products that bear their logo or branding. But when a picture is needed for the website of an accountancy practice or an HR company, or for the brochure of an SEO firm or an independent solicitor, its principal function may simply be as a design element to break up text or provide a visual balance to the page; it is often not there to provide actual information, but to evoke a mood or tone, to inspire confidence and show professionalism.
Custom photography certainly has its place, but however good phone camera pix can be when taken by skilled photographers, it’s unlikely that a selfie is the best option for your LinkedIn profile, and a snapshot of your team posed awkwardly around a meeting table is probably not going to attract new clients to your business. A local photographer may be able to provide high quality headshots or images of your premises at affordable prices, but your staff may not be the best people to illustrate your company literature.
Not all of them are likely to be happy to appear in the photos, and those who are willing are not trained models and may not be able to create the appropriate impression. Even if they can, what will you do if they leave? Imagine how awkward it would be if they joined a competitor. However inexpensive a photo shoot is, you probably won’t want to pay for another every time a member of staff moves on.
Both custom images and stock photography have roles to play in business collateral.