Should I use stock photos or my own images?

We often get asked about the best images to use for websites.  The quickest and cheapest route is to source “royalty free” stock images from websites like istockphoto & shutterstock.

There is, however, a downside to using generic images of smiling people, as they rarely reflect your actual customers, product or environment.  By making your site look too “generic” can often put potential clients off.  Stock photos can be great for backgrounds or simple illustrations as they save hours of work.

If your launching a new business we highly recommend employing the services of a professional photographer to create a marketing pack for your business.  Having a library of consistent professional images is perfect for media releases and marketing colateral both online and off.  Long term you often save design time for printed material as a designer is not trying to compensate for average content.

If your looking at selling your product online, then professional images are a must.  I’ll be honest with you here, you will never sell anything online if your images are poor.

Employing a photographer is not as scary as it sounds and not as expensive too if you look around.  A good professional photographer charges anything from $300-550 for half a day.  That half day includes 2-3 hours on site with you and then 2-3 hours editing.  Always ask for examples of there work.

A photographer worth their salt will give you a DVD of the best images from the shoot with hi-res and web versions ready to use.  This process usually takes around a week.

Your photographer will also spend considerable time colour correcting and processing the images so they are all consistent.  If you still need to get photos edited or “photo-shopped” a photographer will normally charge to do so based on hourly rate (on top of the half day shoot costs).

Copyright of the images should be given to you too as long as the images are used for the purpose of marketing your business or product.  Photographers may retain copyright if the images they are taking are being distributed to multiple parties or used for comercial purposes such as calendars, gift cards etc (unless its for a non-profit or a good cause).  Do always check with your photographer as assumptions can cost!!



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