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Should You Choose Stock or Original Images?


Images tell the world what your brand stands for, and what customers can gain. Research shows an estimated 84 percent of communications will be visual by 2018. ‘Authenticity’ is key to quality visual branding. This is why many companies have taken it into their own hands. However, just as many are pushed for time and resources. This is where stock photos come in. Some companies consider them a lifesaver for finding quality images. However, this quality can vary. This blog weighs up the pros and cons of stock photos versus unique photography for branding. Finally, we offer several tips to get the most out of your choice.

Pros of Unique Photography
Cons of Unique Photography
Full creative control

Want to keep a tight grip on how your company is represented? Creating your own visual content ensures your original ideas truly come to fruition.
Practical constraints

Taking your own photographs limits your locations and subjects. Companies such as travel agencies or luxury brands will find this particularly problematic.
Showcases your abilities

Creating your own visuals makes the results doubly significant. Your new look will represent not only your brand identity but your company’s skills.

You can’t rush creating high quality visuals. But, sometimes the only option is to settle for less in the time you have.
Easier than ever

Apple’s Shot on iPhone 6 campaign proved smartphones can take brilliant pictures. You also have a variety of photo-editing apps at your disposal.
It can still be copied

The impact can be devastating for an SME or an independent company. The recent Zara controversy proves how easy it is for corporations to pass off your work as theirs.


Pros of Stock Images
Cons of Stock Images
They mitigate any copyright issues

These can be a real headache for companies. A lot of hard work can be reduced to nothing through a retroactive copyright dispute.
They often need attribution

This is a common condition for using stock images. Decide if you want your brand’s representation to be attributed to someone else.
Guaranteed professional quality

Many photographers take stock photos to get exposure. Therefore, they will relinquish sole ownership over their work for it to be showcased.
It takes time to find the perfect image

Using stock images means there’s a lot of sifting through. Unfortunately, many stock image websites suffer from clunky browsing and vague taglines.
An enormous range of images

Explore online, and you will find sites full of beautiful stock photos. Upsplash is a fantastic example, with panoramic landscapes and captivating portraits.
Your choice could be someone else’s

You could find your perfect image, in terms of quality and subject. Yet, there’s always a chance of it being snapped up by a competitor.

Final Tips

  • Try your hand at photography first – If your ideal subject or location is close to hand, do a test shoot with an iPhone. At the least, you’ll have something to work with when picking stock photos.
  • Customise your stock photos – There’s nothing stopping you making stock photos your own. Experiment with Photoshop or try making a unique infographic with an app such as Canva.