Original imagery or stock?
On brand original imagery is essential for the success of every business and brand especially in today’s digital led market place. Imagery can make and indeed break a business. It’s not just product photography that is important, but any imagery that is displayed in any format to represent your business and brand.
Original bespoke imagery will always be the preferred option as the images can be tailored to your specific brand and products. You can express your individual style and beliefs within your images. For example if a fashion brand focused on an inclusive and diverse customer base, this can be reflected via your choice of models.
Another distinct advantage is that your images will be unique, no other company will be using the same imagery which will allow you to stand out from your competitors.
Bespoke imagery though needs to be quality. Blurry, dark and or unflattering images will make a website or social media account look unprofessional. If asked which was better, a generic stock photo or an average to poor bespoke image, I would normally say the stock image, as although lacking individuality or personality it does show professionalism. Though the level of which a bespoke image is acceptable does depend a fair amount on the business and or product. For example if you are selling a product specific to your business where stock doesn’t exist then a bad image is better than no image at all. A bad image is also better than a stock or stolen image that misrepresents your business.
What about service based businesses?
When you provide a service rather than a product, personal imagery often feels harder to create to the business owner, but in reality it can actually be easier. You are the product and therefore a personal branding session can not only capture you at work carrying out your service, but it can also be used to market yourself as an individual.
People buy people and will be attracted to honest quality imagery, that highlight your positive attributes as a person and service provider. Stock imagery is generic and cold for services normally which will put off customers looking for a premium personal touch to the service.
Can you take your own photos?
The short answer is yes, the long answer is maybe! Although most people have the access to a reasonably decent camera on their phones, which can take decent enough photos, they can only do so when used in the right conditions. With good light, angles and environment, amongst other factors. I have a number of articles in my Behind the Magic series which could assist you with creating your own imagery. There are also no end of free resources online available to assist you including video tutorials on YouTube.
Taking your own photos should not be seen as the easy option though, and it is often easy to be blinded to ones own products thinking a photo is better than it is. You should be looking to produce well lit, sharp, flattering images. If you are in doubt as to the quality of your imagery speak to some unbias objective friends, would they buy your product from your photos. If the answer is no think again!
Spending your budget wisely
Although I personally try and keep my prices as affordable as possible for small businesses, with photo shoots starting from £250, I fully appreciate that this can sometimes be beyond the budget of small fledging businesses. So what is the best way to spend what budget you have?
Look around and speak to different photographers, ask to see a portfolio of their work, ask if they can work to your budget. They may be interested in a collaboration or product in part or full payment. If you have a particularly unique offering or meet some other criteria I myself may be able to offer an alternative offering that works within your budget. If you don’t ask you don’t know!
Be careful not to be sucked in by a low price from a photographer. It may well be that they are offering a great deal, or have extremely low overheads, or another valid reason but generally you get what you pay for in photography. A photographer must understand your products, their style should compliment your brand & product and they should produce consistent images across their work portfolio and within individual sessions. If they can meet this criteria then you should definitely discuss your requirements further, and whether you can work together.
If you do end up needing to utilise stock imagery make sure you do so legally. There are lots of illegal free sites but there are also a number of legitimate ones. it’s just knowing which are which! I have previously written a blog on the best ways to find free stock images that can be found here.
Can I help you?
If your business is in need of original imagery please contact me. My standard commercial sessions start at £250 for a 1 hour session with edited images and commercial use license, I can though also often offer bespoke packages on request.