5 Reasons to Scrap the Stock Photos and Build a Custom Image Library Instead!
Stock photography is out. YOU photography is in.
Listen- you know what I mean when I say “stock photography,” right? Imagine a gorgeous model with a perfectly styled ponytail wearing super generic clothes and smiling in a way that’s subtle yet painful looking… yeah, you got it. FRIENDS, GET THAT OFF YOUR WEBSITE. We know that’s not you chillin’ in your office with giant glass walls and gourmet looking business partners.
On the other side of that coin are the selfies and instagram shots so many small business owners and entrepreneurs try to justify using rather than professional images because they’re trendy looking and economical- seems like a great combo, right? Someone send Snopes out here for a fact-check. Don’t do it, my beautiful people.
No stock images or selfies allowed in your general marketing materials and website.
Your brand is a reflection of you and what you believe is true about your business or organization. When you invest in beautiful images, you’re letting your audience know that YOU take yourself and your brand seriously and they should too. Selfies belong sprinkled into your social feed. And stock images belong…. in the Getty Image library… Okay, that’s not completely fair. There’s a time and a place for stock images. But when you’re building a personal, small business or nonprofit brand - that’s not the time or the place for pre-fab photography. That’s the time and the place to DO YOU! Here are my top five reasons it’s a much better idea to use custom photography:
ONE. Using custom images builds trust.
Seeing you, your product and your team at work in photos throughout your marketing and social media confirms that you’re the expert you say you are. Potential clients are following you on social and checking out your website to scope out the quality of your work, but to also to gather information about what it might be like to work with you as a person or a team! Stock images offer no valuable information on that front and really only create more distance between you and your audience.
Check out these two images… One was shot for &Beyond as a piece of Andrea’s custom image library. The other is available for licensing at iStock.com by Getty Images. Clearly, it’s a beautiful image and it speaks to teamwork, collaboration, digital communication, etc… however, if Andrea had made the choice to use an image like this stock art, the story being told about her brand would be a completely different one than the story told by the image on the left. If we’re looking for a personal connection with your clients, you’ve got to go with personal images.
TWO. Custom image libraries showcase your core values.
It’s increasingly true that consumers are making choices on what to purchase and who to give their business to based on common values. Steve Jobs made some really great points about marketing being about values some time ago. Here’s a link to a video I’ve been inspired by on that topic. (The bit I’m most interested in starts at right about the 3-minute mark, if you’re interested.)
By creating a custom library of images that YOU’VE created to tell YOUR story, you have complete control over the consistent messaging you’re sending into the universe about your brand and your values. You’re never going to reach that level of commonality with your viewers when you’re using stock photography of stuffy business folks in perfectly pressed khakis staring at a generic computer screen with matching vacant smiles on each of their faces. Likewise, you’ll never tug those heartstrings the same way with cell phone images and DIY headshots.
A perfect example: you could never capture the heart of Bring Your Song with stock images. Even a beautiful image of musicians in a trendily decorated room could never capture the intimacy of what this event is - songwriters and performers gathering to share their most recent work and receive feedback on how to improve the project. You’d never reach the intended audience with a purchased image. This is exactly what I mean when I say it’s all about values - you’ve got to reach your people and welcome them into the fold by sharing the pieces of passion where you can connect.
THREE. Personalized photography sets you apart.
It’s a stock photo’s job to tell a vague enough story to cover the needs of many people in many industries, but often they are SO generic that they lack heart, and most often viewers can spot them from a mile away. … and sometimes they’ve seen the SAME IMAGE on another website… YIKES! No bueno, my friends. No bueno. That embarrassment can easily be avoided by investing in a custom image library.
The Canton Girl Gang is a group of fierce boss babes in Canton, Ohio that network together and support each other’s businesses. It’s a group created to celebrate and empower female entrepreneurs, business owners and lady bosses. I was so excited with they asked me to come photograph a core group of some of their original members to use in marketing material. They even have matching shirts - talk about attention to detail with their branding. It would have been easy to find some stock art of a group of women hanging out and laughing- but the Girl Gang knows better. It would have be quick to snap a few selfies next time they were together, but no no! They took the time to curate their message and the images we captured speak for themselves. You can’t fabricate the level of camaraderie between these women!
FOUR. A custom library saves you time!
Time is money, friends. And we all know what a time-suck stock galleries can be. “This one’s close- maybe there are similar images but with a latte on the table rather than an energy drink.” Ahh yes… we’ve all been there. Searching for that perfect stock image that tells the exact story we’ve been dreaming up. But you know what? It’s not out there. That perfect image is of YOU holding that latte. Once you have a collection of images tailored to you and your original content, you’ll have no need to spend hours skimming through those online galleries. You’ll have exactly what you need- and if you find a hole where something’s missing, make a note and add it to the shot list for the next shoot.
Angi DeMatteis, RMT reached out about building a personalized photo library for her to use in building her personal and professional brand on social media. Now that she’s been through one shoot, she’s got over 100 images to quickly choose from when she’s blogging or posting about the importance of journaling and self care. No sifting and searching through stock galleries. It’s beautiful and personal and readily available to her!
FIVE. Imagery designed around your brand helps tell your most authentic story.
Shooting a body of photographs you’ll use across the board on all your marketing and social platforms gives you the power to tell a specific story. When you develop a solid relationship with a photographer and commit to building your library of images over time, you have an ongoing supply of imagery to choose from that you have complete control over, so it can evolve and grow with your business.
READY? I SURE AM.
Whether your brand is just starting to find its wings or you’ve been at it for a while and just need to breathe some new air into it, PLEASE don’t wait around. It’s up to you to take a step toward building your beautiful brand and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to help you take the plunge. Schedule a call with me to chat about what you need, ask me your questions, brainstorm your first shoot. I’m here for you!
Love and Light, my beautiful friends!