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Stock vs Bespoke photography in web design

56 Degrees know that in designing and developing websites imagery can have a significant impact on your site. Photos and graphics can enhance your content, engaging and encouraging visitors to stay on your site for longer. And the longer they stay, the more likely they are to get in touch or to make a purchase.

Good photography can really make a difference to what people think about your site. But what is good photography and can they make that much of a difference?

What is a stock photo?
A stock photo is a photograph that can be licensed for public or commercial use. They can be found on professional stock photography websites such as iStockPhoto or Getty Images, or by simply doing a Google search for a specific type of photo.

Bespoke photography is when you commission a professional photographer to take the photos you want. They are unique to your business.

Are you a unique or generic business?
Of course you’re going to say that you’re pretty unique. So, one of the first questions you need to ask is: are you reflecting this in using photographs unique to your business? Or are you being generic and using a stock photo?

The pros and cons
When you are considering photography in your web design there are both positives and negatives. 56 Degrees understands these and can advise you on the best route to take. But here are just some thoughts about the pros and cons of stock photography.

Pros for stock photography:
• Saves you time
• Endless choices
• Professional Quality
• It can be a great way to save on Marketing Costs

Cons for stock photography:
• Difficult to differentiate your brand and target
• Overused images in the online world: what if one of your competitors is using the same image!
• Not being original or creative
• Doesn’t represent your brand in a unique way
• You may be perceived as being lazy or not caring enough about your brand to invest in bespoke photography to make your site personal

Best fit isn’t necessarily best practice
At 56 Degrees, when we design and develop sites for our clients we always recommend using a photographer to get unique and bespoke images. It is easy for agencies to simply find a “best fit” from a library of images but we want your site to be the best it can be. We take pride in our work and recommend photographers who do the same. You care about your business so why would you not invest in great photos to show customers exactly who you are and what you do.

Bespoke photography ensures you get exactly the images you want: there is never a compromise. This gives your brand credibility and a fresh and very personal image..

Unique photography, created just for you, has also been proven to deliver tangible results in terms of visits, clicks through rates, and engagement.

Isn’t hiring a photographer more expensive?
Not necessarily. Stock photography can be heavily licensed and restricted meaning you may be penalised if you use it in more places than you originally intended. Purchasing an image for use on a website and then using it in a marketing brochure could see you unwittingly breaching the terms of your purchase license and subject to a heavy fine!

When you hire a photographer, not only do you get exactly the images you want and need, they will usually include in the fee (or for a small additional cost) an unlimited use license. This means you can use the photos wherever you like and how often you like.

In the long run, hiring a photographer for half a day is as economical as buying a few stock photos. You get the added confidence of no hidden licensing Ts&Cs or costs. But the true value and benefit is that you get beautiful, high quality, and professional images that are unique to you.

Can you really tell the difference?
The short answer is “yes, most of the time.” At 56 Degrees it is really important to us that when we design and develop your site it reflects you and your business in the best possible way. If we were to include photos of people you’ve never seen before, in an office you don’t recognise and gave it the title “our people” you wouldn’t be impressed. But you’ll be surprised how many companies do this.

When Microsoft came out, everyone thought it would be the death of designers and other creative industries. Why would people spend money on agencies to design their websites and their marketing material when they had the tools on their computers to do it all themselves. This hasn’t happened. People realise and understand that specific skills are needed to produce something of quality, something that works, and looks fantastic. It is the same with photography. Although you have the option of using stock images that are easy to find, why would you do this when you can employ a professional to create something unique and brilliant for you.

[At 56 Degrees that’s what we do.] In our design and development world [we] 56 Degrees work with a range of professional photographers to deliver creative, professional and bespoke photography to bring your brand to life and make your site stand out from the competition. Do get in touch to talk about how photography can work for you.