The Do’s and Don’t’s Of Stock Photography
Stock photos are almost certainly cheaper than hiring a photographer for a shoot, and you can choose something that’s perfect before parting with your cash.
But (and it’s a big but), stock photography can let you and your business down if you use it wrong. Here are some DOs and DON’Ts to keep you on right track and make sure you are using them effectively for your business…
DO be creative with your search terms
If you search for a photo of a business meeting with the search phrase ‘business meeting,’ you’re likely to get the same results as countless other businesses. Instead, use more creative and unusual search terms, such as ‘conference’ or ‘colleagues together’ to find a new set of results that still work for your needs.
You can even go a step further and use Google’s image search to figure out who else hosts the image on their site.
DON’T date your site
If you’re using stock photography, you need to work extra hard to make sure it looks fresh and up-to-date. This means either choosing photographs that won’t look outdated too quickly (beware fashion-heavy photos, particularly of teenagers), or changing your stock on a regular basis.
It can be tempting to use older stock photography to save money, but don’t be tempted unless you’re certain the photo works – it’s a false economy!
DO find some favorite photographers
Find a photo that’s perfect for your site and then search the rest of that specific photographer’s stock. Chances are, if you like one of his or her photographs, you’ll like more! As well as saving time, this method of searching will help ensure you have a more consistent style of photograph across your site.
DON’T just rely on stock (if you can help it)
You can always intersperse stock photography with other high quality photos. This could literally mean shooting your own photos, asking for volunteers in the office, or simply organizing a small photo shoot. If you decide neither stock nor shoot photography’s for you, have a look at vector illustrations as an alternative.
You can even add some stock videos, which could really add something special to the user experience and potentially result in more conversions.
DO put the time in
Don’t forget that the first page of results for your search terms will be the same first page for a lot of other people. Try clicking a few pages through the results for less predictable interpretations of your search terms.
Once you get closer to choosing an actual image, make sure you’re selecting something appropriate and doesn’t need photo-shopping to meet your needs – you don’t want a scandal like the VegNew’s photo-shopped meat photo on your hands!
DO think about your audience
As with all content on your site, you must always keep your audience in mind. For stock imagery, this means making sure you’re not using photographs that alienate your visitors. For example, if you use photos of people using your service or product that the potential customer can’t connect with, you run the risk of decreasing conversion rate.
DON’T forget about your budget
If you’re using stock photography to save money, make sure you keep an eye on how much you’re actually spending. Although a lot of stock photography is very reasonably priced, there are plenty of photos that cost a lot more. Always double check you have the right resolution and format before finalizing your purchase.
Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting businesses on their content and PR efforts, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.
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