Why You Should Use Unique and Original Photos Rather than Stock Images

You can’t have a website without images. Just imagine trying to plough through pages of densely-packed content with nothing to peak your interest, break up the monotony or aid in the explanation of your topic.

The visual representation of your written concept helps capture your reader, maintain your audience and, possibly, ensure they understand your point of view or instruction. You can’t just use any old images, though, your visitors need interest, intrigue, novelty and quality to keep them engaged.

Your photos are just as important as your content

In their study, “The Effect of Mere Touch on Perceived Ownership”, UCLA’s Joann Peck and Suzanne B Shu discovered that if an object was displayed clearly and in great detail on a site, then online shoppers were more likely to see themselves buying and owning it.

Of course, if your website is commercial, you’ll need the photography to sell your products and you won’t be able to use stock images. What if, though, you’re selling an idea or a service? Or if you have a blog that you need to monetise more effectively? Do original images carry as much weight then?

Using original images to sell the abstract

Yes, original imagery, specifically of the item, concept, service and location most certainly will! The problem is, how do you get a photo of ‘dynamic interview technique’ or ‘strong sales strategy’? How do you portray conceptual services or processes? What does this look like, exactly?

Taking photos of products and services is quite easy. Concepts and ‘trains of thought’ however are certainly much more difficult to create. Like most site owners you’d probably visit a stock image resource to find something you think looks like ‘dynamic strategy sales interview’. Chances are it’s going to be that one of a guy in a suit proffering his hand to the camera? You know the one, we’ve all seen it. Let’s call this picture that ‘dynamic sales shark’ guy. Whatever it is, it’ll leap out at you after three hours of scrolling, you’ll download it and add it to your website.


The only problem with this is quite a few other people had the same idea and the ‘dynamic sales shark’ guy is also being used on 253 other sites, showing how great he is at interviews. He’ll become the poster boy for uninspired dynamic sales strategy interview sharks the world over.

If you need to use stock photos you need to do it wisely and preferably very sparingly. If your competitor, or an untrustworthy site, is using the ‘dynamic sales shark’ guy as well, then your site, your company and, potentially you personally, may suffer.

Images speak a thousand words

The picture superiority effect means that concepts, information and feelings are more likely to be absorbed and remembered if they’re presented visually rather than in words.

Visual and verbal (which includes the written word) information is processed by different pathways in the brain and is also stored and represented differently. The representations are coded to provide easy and instant access to information about them for later use.

This is instant and we scarcely know we’re doing it. Unfortunately, it works for positive and negative impressions, so if you’re sharing images with a company that’s just been through the public spotlight for something bad, or is in known for their questionable scruples people are turned off. They probably won’t even be able to explain why. They’ll just associate a ‘bad vibe’ feeling with you and your company.

You need real photos, maybe even of you

A 2011 study by Marketing Experiments found that when they used a real photo of one of their management team (an average-looking guy) against their best-performing stock photo (an attractive, helpful-looking young woman), that the ‘average guy’ got 35% more sign-ups to his debt-counselling service.

This isn’t necessarily anything to do with looks. It’s more to do with veracity and openness; possibly an internal association to trustworthiness and believability. If you go for the debt counselling, you might actually talk to this guy, or his colleague. He looks alright, like a down-to-earth man who will understand you and not judge you for the debt you’re in.

You also subconsciously know the woman probably has no real experience with debt-counselling, and while she’s possibly as pleasant and helpful as she looks, she’s probably not the person you’ll be dealing with.

Bringing in a professional photographer is a great investment

Having a photographer in your place of business for a day or two, doing formal portraits of you and your employees means that you get high-quality images that are of you guys – not Smiling Debt-lady or Dynamic Sales-shark.

Your photographer can also get some informal shots of the comings and goings in your workplace providing customers with a believable insight into the personalities in your company. They see your team on Dress-down Friday or sharing a laugh over their monitors. They get a mental image of you and the team as they are; real people doing a job.

In this way, you become a friend, a confidante. You’re genuine and you’re approachable. The likelihood of a potential client clicking through your website to contact with ‘you’, not the ‘dynamic sales shark’ guy is much more likely.

DIGITAL BASE prides ourselves on our digital content creation. We create photographic material to suit your website and product, or service. If you’d like to speak with one of the team about how we might be able to help you with your photographic requirements, get in touch today.

The next step, of course, is to up your video game. I think I might keep that for another blog entry though. 🙂

News & Resources

Every now and then we find a little piece of information we think might be helpful. Or we do something we’re pretty proud of. Check out all our news articles here

We use cookies to improve performance and good experience in using your website. You can read the details at Privacy Policy.

Privacy Preferences

You can choose cookie settings by on/off. Cookies of each type are available on request, except for essential cookies.

Allow All
Manage Consent Preferences
  • Always Active