Monday, January 7, 2013

An alternative to stock photography

So many companies use stock photography on their websites, why don't visitors like it?  

Stock photography is purposely very general.  The photographer and stock photography company only get paid when you license a photo.  The goal for them is not to sell more photos, but to sell the same photo(s) multiple times.  To add insult to injury, the photographers often have a list of photo descriptions to fill like, "Businessman climbing the corporate ladder."  General descriptions lead to general photos, and general photos are boring.

When your website features stock photography it shows a lack of imagination and sucks all personal(ity) out of your site and by association, your company.  

The stock photos you choose show a beautiful group of perfectly diverse business professionals that look like they just came off the set of The Young and The Restless.  (I may think I look like Ryan Reynolds but my mirror doesn't agree.)

Trust goes both ways.  You can't expect your website visitors to trust you will care about them if you don't trust them enough to show them real photos of your office, your team, and your clients.

I'm not a photographer and I'm super busy, how do I get "real" photos?

You may not be a photographer, but between Instagram, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, Twitter and all the other image capture, hosting, and sharing going on, I bet one of your employees or family members is.  He or she may not be a professional photographer, but that doesn't mean she can't take great photos.  My first digital camera cost me over $4,000 and only took 5MP photos.  Today, my phone takes 8.1MP photos and was free.

Spend a Friday afternoon taking replacement photos for your website.  If you're low on inspiration, try recreating the stock photos you like using your employees as the models.  Consider using humor to offset the serious nature of your business or apps like Instagram to punch up the colors and add fitting filters.  Also, consider having each department take their own photos.  You will end up with plenty of options for your site and it is a great team building exercise for your employees.  

You can take awesome photos with just a phone and even if your photos don't come out great, they will give your site a personal touch that can't be conveyed with stock photos.