Website owners have always wanted to use the best images and videos on websites, but it often came at a cost of slowing a website down. But now, in an age of cloud hosting and decent WiFi, 4G, or even 5G networks (which are available almost anywhere), high quality imagery and video is more accessible and open to utilisation for websites than ever.
Subsequently, photography is often what makes a website stand out from the crowd. It is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elements when building an engaging website and can make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of your website, so it’s something you need to get right if you’re wanting to maximise impact – it doesn’t matter if you have the slickest website design; if the photography isn’t up to scratch, users simply aren’t going to engage.
When it comes to choosing the photos you implement on your site, you have two main choices: you can either use stock imagery, or you can use authentic photographs of your business.
What is Stock Imagery?
Stock photos are generic images that are licensed to individuals and organisations for use on their website, brochures and other marketing materials. Although the creator retains copyright of their images, anyone wanting to use them can acquire the right to do so by paying a fee to the agency managing the image.
iStock and Getty Images are two of the most popular websites for obtaining royalty-free images and both have an extremely large database of stock photographs that are available to purchase.
Although stock imagery can be of some benefit, the most effective websites are the ones rich in original photographs that have been taken by a professional for the specific purpose of using them on the web. Here we’ve compared the two types of photographs and explained just why you’ll benefit more from using custom photos rather than stock photos…
Benefits of Using Authentic Photos & Images
You Have Full Control
One of the biggest benefits of authentic images is that you have complete control over the tone and atmosphere of the photos. You can adjust the lighting, take a shot from a particular angle, position items in a specific way and so on, enabling you to create the image exactly how you desire and convey the correct message.
With stock photography on the other hand, the scene has been directed by someone you’ve never met and can’t be amended nor retaken. There might be something about the photo you don’t like, perhaps a shadow is too obtrusive for example, and apart from play around with the contrast and brightness, there’s not much you can do to change it.
Build a Strong Brand Identity
Establishing a strong brand identity is vital for companies of all sizes and in all industries – it helps to appropriately position your business and convey to potential customers the values you stand for – and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to achieve this without using original photographs of your company.
Stock images are available for anyone to buy, which means there’s going to be plenty of other businesses around the world also using the same photos you’re making use of, which isn’t good for standing out or differentiating yourself from your competitors. By using your own photos, you can be confident that they’re completely unique and won’t be found on your main rivals’ websites.
They are also largely out of your control in the weird and wonderful world of the internet – take ‘Hide the pain Harold’ as an example – this poor chap featured in so many cliché or commonly-used stock images, he suddenly became a well-known internet meme following a few posts that went viral.
All of a sudden, the tone of many websites who used him within their imagery was immediately changed by completely external factors.
Create Trust and Reliability
There’s a good chance that your website will be the first introduction to your business for many visitors, so it’s important that your build trust immediately. Incorporating images of your team and business HQ onto your site will help establish a personal connection that could potentially be the foundation for a long-term relationship.
How much more confident does it make you feel when meeting or speaking to someone new when you know what they will look like in advance?
You’re probably going to want your branding and logo in some of the images you use on your website, and the only way this is possible (without resorting to hours of Photoshop) is to use your own custom photos. Remember that the purpose of stock imagery is for anyone to use, so all photos you find on iStock or Getty Images are going to be extremely generic.
By arranging your own photo shoot day, you can make sure your logo and brand colours are in the shots you need them to be in.
Although hiring a professional photographer for a day will have larger initial costs than purchasing a few stock photos, afterwards you’ll have a library of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of photographs that you can you use as and when you desire.
And unlike stock imagery where you’re required to pay a fee for every image you want to use, you’ll be able to delve into your library and use your own photos as much as you want at no extra cost, as long as you haven’t had to commit to a specific licence with the photographer.
Professional Commercial Photography in Bristol
If you’re interested in arranging for a professional photographer to visit your premises to take high-quality photos for your website, please don’t hesitate to contact the team here at Squarebird. We utilise the latest technology and equipment (including drones!) to offer a comprehensive service that covers people, products, exterior areas as well as creative shots of interior spaces.