Stock photography: bad or good?
During the B2B website redesign process, we get this question quite a bit from clients. There is still a stigma around using stock photography. The reason behind this is valid: stock photography used to be really, really bad. No one wants to look at a guy in an ill-fitting suit counting money in an office decorated like it’s the 1990s. (You know you’ve seen the picture and it makes you cringe.) The good news is that stock photography has evolved significantly.
Stock Photography Now
Just like any other market, stock photography had to evolve to meet the changing needs of its customer base. As such, photographers spent less time staging really fake images and started setting up shots that looked more natural and organic. Pictures still convey quite a bit of meaning, so it’s important to utilize photos and images that convey a message that is consistent with your brand. Of course, custom photography is always the number one choice for B2B websites and marketing, but if this option is too pricey, stock photography is a good resource.
When to Use Stock Photos on Your B2B Website
Let’s take a look at when to consider stock photos on your website:
- No Images Available: Your company doesn’t have access to professional in-action images taken while your employees are providing a service. This isn’t uncommon, especially for service-based organizations like accounting, recruiting, finance, or consulting. It’s rare that anyone will have taken high-resolution images of people working in your office.
- Action Images: Likewise, your company may not require images of a unique product or service carried out by employees. It can be difficult to convey the job duties of a consultant or finance partner in a photo. Oftentimes, iconography or other graphic elements can tell your brand story more effectively than photography.
- Convey or Elicit Emotion: Stock photos can be used to capture a feeling you would like a user to get when they visit your website, which is best achieved with abstract or artistic imagery. Do you want visitors to feel passion, relief, safety? Imagery can be used to convey or elicit these types of feelings.
- Tell a Story: Photos can be instrumental in telling the story of your company, which may be difficult for a professional photographer to capture with the resources available (i.e., employees are not paid models, so may not produce the “feel” you’re trying to capture to help explain the benefits your business provides).
- Fit with Website Design: Stock photography can provide unique visuals that support the structure and layout of your company’s website design. For example, wide images with empty spaces for copy overlay can create a unique and compelling visual effect. These images help to support the look and feel of the website to make it fluid and functional.
- Quality Images: It can be tough to find clear, high-quality images that aren’t taken by a professional photographer. For this reason, stock photos help to ensure the B2B website designer has access to images of proper scale, high enough resolution and large enough size to avoid blurriness on the website. Blurry images make your company look unprofessional and sloppy, so never use blurry imagery.
- Supplements: If your company already has high-quality images to work with, you may consider supplementing with stock photos to help provide a larger picture and/or a stronger message to the user.
Stock Photos: A Great Resource
Even as I write this, stock images are getting better and better. Photographers are learning more and more what B2B firms are looking for and are refining their images, compositions, and subjects to meet those needs. Stock photos can be powerful tools to use in a B2B website design, so don’t discount or avoid them based on their previous stigma.