Stock Images vs Real Images

Posted by Jennifer Forrest on October 9, 2018

This is not an open-and-shut case

2018 09 Blog - Stock vs Real

You’ve written the perfect blog. You’ve drafted your most impactful ad yet. Your new website is nearly complete. Now you just need to find the perfect stock images that represent YOUR unique message.

The only problem is that stock images are not unique. In fact, the image that you might select to use on the home page of your website is being used by multiple other companies, large and small.

When should you consider stock imagery?

  • You are on a budget. If you are a small business or a nonprofit, chances are, you are constrained by a small budget. Often times, stock imagery is inexpensive. This may be the most compelling argument to use them.
  • You need an image quickly. Your organization might find itself up against a tight deadline. There simply is not time to hire a photographer, schedule a photo shoot and wait for final, ready-to-use images.

When should you invest in real imagery?

  • You want to avoid the hassle of photo licensing restrictions. Stock images are often limited by usage rights stating how and how often you can use the images. [Learn more about the fundamentals of photo licensing for stock images.] Having a library of your own custom images allows you to use them as often as you wish, wherever you choose.
  • A more genuine feel. Real images are just that — real. They aren’t staged, and your audience is given a glimpse of your brand with imagery that is yours and yours alone. Studies show that real images connect and engage in a way that stock photos don’t.

So, what’s the verdict?

When possible, avoid using stock photos. Instead, use photos that better represent your culture and your target audience(s). You could accomplish this with photos of:

  • Your employees interacting with customers or clients
  • Your customers or clients using your product or services
  • Your donors being honored for their contributions

If creating a library of your own images isn’t an option, you can use a combination of stock photos alongside your own custom images. Or you can simply limit your stock imagery usage to photos that are complementary to your brand’s look and feel.

Visit our portfolio to view custom photography that we have done for a variety of industries!


Topics: photojournalism, photography, branding, marketing, stock vs. real images

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