Stock vs. original photography: their impact on your blog + brand
You didn’t make it all the way across the internet to this article without noticing that visuals really matter. If you’re a blogger you’ve probably read the advice that good photos are better than original photos. But are they really? Well, the short answer is: it depends on your brand. I use exclusively original photography for my blog and personal brand and it’s no accident. It’s not because I haven’t seen the serious drool-worthy shots on unsplash, or because I have some expert photography background (because I have seen them and I don’t have that background.) But I do know how both stock photography and original photography can impact your brand, and although stock photography (especially of the unsplash or death to stock photo nature) definitely has it’s value and purpose, it may not be impacting your blog and brand in the way you want.
Stock photos are stock for a reason. They have an inherent anonymity—that’s what makes them successful stock photos; they could be anybody anywhere. And when you use them, it starts to say the same thing about your voice—you become an anybody anywhere. It also becomes harder to connect with your audience on a personal level—they feel that same anonymity. When you try to appeal to everyone, it gets harder to make a lasting impact on anyone.
When you create your own photos they are connected to you and your personal voice. Although they may not connect to everyone, they will connect to people will similar taste.
Creating a cohesive brand
Images are what will spread from your blog and website outwards to your social media channels. And let’s face it, you’re probably not going to instagram a stock photo. In using your own photography you are free to spread it across all your other channels, creating a more cohesive brand and internet presence.
It’s not just social media that can lead to a disjointed brand. Your blog or website can start to feel disjointed in itself, when you’re mixing different photography styles (since stock websites are made up of the work of many photographers), or when you are throwing your original photos into the stock mix (you know those times when you really need that specific photo of your favourite day planner next to a keyboard and the only solution is to take your own.) When you use original photography you have the ability to brand it in a way that fits cohesively with your brand and is reinforcing the stories you want to tell.
Keeping a consistent vision and photography style throughout all your brand visuals is one of the easiest ways to maintain a cohesive blog and brand.
Photos can be your brand’s best marketing tool
In our Pinterest, Instagram, and social-sharing world, photos so often break apart from their original home. It’s highly likely that your photos will be seen more than your words read. When those photos are viewed outside your site they have the potential to represent your brand—bringing it onto people’s radar. So that when they see that photo again, this time they might click on it.
If you’ve worked to develop a recognizable photo style, your photos can represent your brand as if you had your logo stamped right on it. We can probably all think of some blogs and brands whose photography we immediately recognize no matter where we see it.
The downside we already know about stock photos—all users have access to the same ones. Whenever you use stock, you run the risk of viewers seeing the photo elsewhere. When this happens in the best case it dilutes your brand, and in the worst case it creates confusion and mistrust—especially if people feel like you've tried to hide the fact that they are stock photos.
Letting people see you, see your environment, through photography helps to build trust and authenticity with your readers. (No catfishing going on here!)
Stock photos aren’t bad but when you use them you are missing out on the benefits of custom and original photography to your blog and brand. Photography is the first thing people are drawn to and it’s worth being intentional about.
What are your thoughts? Is original photography important to your brand?
Feeling lost on how to create original photography?
I'll send you my tool kit full of what I use to produce original photography for my blog and brand. Spoiler: you don't need a lot! I won't keep you hanging—I'll also send weekly encouragement and happiness to your inbox and all my other photography tips and resources.