Should You Use Stock Photos on Your Website?
Recently a client came to us with a collection of images submitted by their staff. They were hoping to put them on their website to update the imagery. While some were fantastic, a few missed the mark, and we suggested using stock imagery instead. The client asked if using stock was not personal enough for their audience and would it be better to use “real” images. Here is my response that we thought we would share with all of you.
Why are we recommending stock?
In my opinion, it comes down to polish and confidence. If you have a great archive of professional-looking imagery taken at your events, then by all means, you should let that shine on your website! However, if the imagery is lacking that professionalism, it does not belong on your digital storefront.
If a client does not have the time or budget to hire one of our photographers to cover their events, we often recommend using stock photography which is fast, affordable, professional (model released, sharp focus, perfect white balance, no logos or copyrighted material in the background), and able to be used for the web or print. Stock offers high quality, impressive imagery that adds polish to a website and feels professional.
Well-curated stock imagery can complement to your website’s content and make partners or donors feel confident in your organization. The assumption is: you either hired someone or were able to pay for quality imagery. It is just a confidence builder. I can tell when an organization hires or uses professional photography. It helps me feel the company is a solid investment.
The question of “realism” on your website
For some organizations we work with, we have created stock archives for them over the course of many months using their actual clients. You can read our blog post about how two types of photography are a valuable investment for your company here.
However, not all organizations have the budget for or time to create a stock archive of their own. Likewise, not all staff members are great photographers. Some images from existing archives are out of date, some images are not toned properly, others are out of focus. Some do not put the best foot forward for the organization. In that case, we recommend they might be better served putting up really strong stock imagery and saving the staff created images for social media.
How do I choose?
Overall, I would suggest starting with this premise: Is this photo the best choice to inspire confidence in our work and mission? Does it show professionalism? Does this photo inspire donors and make them feel confident their investment in us will be well spent? Is this photo just as good as our competitors’ images on their websites?
Once you decide that, then I would consider how relevant “realism” is to the process, how necessary it is to use staff submitted images, and if a little more investment is worth it to inspire those big donors to feel confidence.
Jamie Rose is partner & COO of Momenta Creative. We nicknamed Jamie the “Fun Machine” at the office because of her infectious laugh and unending energy. Don’t let the sparkling personality fool you. Her sharp, plugged-in approach to communications is what landed her previous positions with companies like The New York Times and The Global Fund, and what makes her indispensable to our clients today.