How to Leverage Custom Photography to Create Your Own Look

There are hundreds of thousands of stock photos available online, often for very attractive prices. It can be tempting to take this easy and inexpensive way out, but custom photography will allow you to create a unique look for your brand in ways that stock photos never can. Quality photos are critical in marketing; as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and the likelihood of any consumer deciding out of the blue to read one thousand words on your site is slim to none. You need to catch their eye with attractive, relevant photography that expresses your brand. Leverage custom photography to take your business to the next level.

Why not use stock photography?

Have you ever seen someone and knew they looked familiar, though you couldn’t quite place them? This is often the experience consumers have with stock photos. An image for sale on a stock photo site might be purchased and downloaded thousands of times. When you are trying to create a look for your brand, the last thing you want is for a consumer to see the same photo you are using on another site. It is also worth remembering that a photo that seems “right” to you will likely seem “right” to another business in your vertical. The only thing worse as a brand than seeing the same stock image you used on a completely different site is seeing that image used by one of your competitors. Whole websites have been created dedicated to making fun of strange and unrealistic stock photography (like “Woman Laughing Alone With Salad”). Though stock photos may be useful in supporting roles, you cannot expect to build your brand on a story that someone else created.

Express your brand vision

When you choose custom photography over stock images, you gain control over every aspect of the photo. How many times have you looked at a stock photo and thought, “This would be perfect, if only…”? By its very nature, a stock photo is generic. It is designed to be of use to as many people as possible. Most people would agree that the last thing they want their business and brand to be is “generic.” With custom photos, the photographer is there to capture your vision, from color to mood to models. The styling of photos (the lighting, what color palette is used, the framing) and the content (the products or people in them) work together to create a look that is all your own. Consider what feelings you want your brand to evoke, and make sure your photos match that. A cohesive selection of photos that match the tone of the rest of your site and materials will help to pull everything together, creating a smooth experience for the consumer.

Add authenticity to your brand

Another advantage of custom photography is the ability to represent the reality of your work. Try capturing some photos of your office or staff in action. A photo of a nearby local landmark will remind locals that you’re part of their community. Many consumers today dislike the feeling that they are just one more customer of a faceless corporation. They can see past the blankly smiling stock photo model. Using custom photography allows you to give consumers a reason to trust you by showing them something real. This is not just for style purposes — studies have shown that photos with real people generate 95% more leads than stock models.

Consider the cost of opportunity

Investing in quality custom photography from a professional photographer can be daunting, but you must remember it is just that: an investment. While the upfront costs of purchasing stock photography may be lower, over time the use of stock photography will have high opportunity costs. Settling for an “almost right” photo makes it significantly more difficult to build your brand and therefore increase your market share. The right photography will continue to pay dividends in the years to come, forming a solid base for your brand.

Though stock photography is an appealing option for businesses, it would be a mistake to underestimate the impact of custom photography. Using custom photography will allow you to create your own look for your brand and stand out from your competitors. Instead of settling for close enough, invest in images that showcase what makes your business unique. Not only will custom photography help strengthen your brand storytelling to increase your business over the long run, it can have real and trackable impact on lead generation.