Just about everyone has an opinion on stock photography. Usually a strong one. We work on photography needs with clients of all sizes on a variety of different applications. The major problem most people have with stock photography is that it’s a poor substitute for a custom photo shoot. It’s never a perfect solution, it’s simply something that is close to the idea originally conceived.
Here are the biggest 3 problems with stock photos and illustration
1: Stock Photography is NOT Original
The shot was never intended for a specific idea, and is usually vague in its execution.
2: Stock Photographs Can Be Bought By Anyone
If you produce anything using a stock photograph, you are using something that is available for anyone else to buy and you risk looking like any number of other businesses out there. That’s not good for standing out.
3: Stock Photography is Often Cliché
Stock may have some strengths, but originality is not one of them. If you have a great idea for a campaign, you will almost certainly not find it executed in a stock photo library. And if you do, see problem #2. Anyone can use it.
The Advantages of Stock Photography
Having said all of that, it does have its uses. And the reasons for that usually come down to speed, budget and media.
1: Stock is GREAT for Comps and Mock-Ups
This is the biggest reason people like stock. When you’re dummying an idea for a client presentation, there’s no time or money to do a shoot. In fact, it would be a waste of time when you consider how many ideas are presented. That’s why stock is great. You can get across the idea quickly by comping together various stock images to create a unique image.
2: Stock Photography is Cheaper and Quicker Than a Photo Shoot
In most cases, it takes several weeks (or even months) to coordinate an original photo shoot. And that takes money too. With stock photography, everything’s done for you and ready to go. All you have to do is figure out the price and get client approval.
3: Stock Photography is Available for Instant Download
When time is of the essence, stock is available immediately. Even the largest files can be downloaded very quickly with today’s blazing Internet speeds.
4: For Brochures and Smaller Tactics, Stock is Fine.
As always in advertising, you have to pick your battles. If you don’t have a big budget and need to figure out where to spend the money, stock can be a nice fallback for the tactics that aren’t getting mass media attention.