When to Use Stock Images vs. When to Produce a Photo Shoot
These days, regardless of what kind of business you have, whether you are in marketing, retail, Information Technology or even a lawyer’s office, there is a need, now more than ever, to convey images that are not only representative of your brand but also of good quality, sharp and well thought of composition.
While it is popular for businesses to use stock images in their materials as there are many perks to using stock photos, there are also some pitfalls. The other option is to produce a photo shoot of your own. The question is: when should you use stock images and when should you take your own photos?
The option you choose will largely depend on three main factors: budget, time and usability.
PROS: Stock photos provide high-quality images without the cost of setting up your own photo shoot, which can make that option more affordable. Stock photos online (e.g. iStock.com, shutterstock.com , ThinkStock.com) are also convenient because they are readily available for purchase whenever you’d need them. There‘s an array of online stock image choices, from casual photos to professionally staged photos and from low-resolution photos to high-resolution photos. This can save you both time and money.
CONS: The downside to using stock images, however, is lack of control over the content of the photos. You’re unable to dictate the creative direction of the photo (i.e. certain lighting, angles, expressions or actions). If you are looking for images containing very specific content, they may be hard to find on stock image sites. For some images, it’s difficult to manipulate the size or shape of the photo after purchasing to fit in a vertical or horizontal space without altering the original view. So think about the usability of these images to the message you are trying to convey.
Furthermore, there aren’t limits to how many other companies purchase the same image, so you may find that some of your competitors are showcasing the same purchased images.
PROS: A photo shoot can be inexpensive or more expensive, depending on the quality of the photographer, the setting and who is hired for the shoot. However, you have total control over how the photo shoot is conducted, and—since you own the rights to all the photos—how they are used. A photo shoot allows you to choose the content of your photos, which means your photos can be personalized or localized to reach your target audience. Your photos will be unique and usable to your brand and your company.
CONS: On the downside however, a photo shoot takes more time, money and effort to execute. You have to plan around multiple people’s schedules, shop around for photo shoot locations, find local or national talent and potentially pay for some or all of these resources. Putting together a professional-quality photo shoot can be difficult and there’s always the potential that the photos don’t turn out as you intended it to be.
Consider the pros and cons of both options. Do you have room in your budget to facilitate a photo shoot? Do you have an upcoming deadline, and need a photo right away? Is it important to your company to incorporate its distinct brand into photos?
Think about your budget, your time constraints and the usability of these photos whether you go with stock photos or a photo shoot. Remember, each option fulfills different needs but you have to determine which one meets yours the best.