Whether you are writing a blog, managing a website, or running an online ads campaign, you need strong content backed with powerful imagery; photos are essential to add life to the website. You can get these images for your website or campaign through various sources.
Types of pictures commonly used on websites include original photos and stock photos that you can acquire online. Original photos include images captured by you and those snapped by a professional, especially for your project.
It is a common question whether you should take your own photographs or get stock photos for your website. We will further dig into the details and understand the pros and cons of both options and when they should and should not be used.
Advantages of Stock Photos
Stock photos are images captured by professional photographers or vector images drawn by professional illustrators that anyone can use. Stock photos are usually available for a small price. The same image may be available with more than one stock photo agency.
These are pretty extensively used by websites and blogs, even in online campaigns. Let’s look into the advantages of stock photos.
1. Instant Access
You can get access to the photographs you want instantly and use them within seconds. You do not need to wait for the photo to be developed and processed, saving precious time.
All you need is an account with one of the many stock photo agencies for this purpose. Downloads are instant and only a click away.
2. Low Prices
Most stock photos can be acquired for a few cents to a few dollars each. Typically, stock photo agencies offer bulk packages or monthly subscriptions, even both. Some sites provide free images in trial periods typically lasting a month.
However, premium assets are generally available for a higher price and do not come under the regular packages. The websites decide which pictures should be classified as premium assets.
3. Large Variety
All significant stock photo websites have millions of images to choose from. Whether you’re looking for snaps from nature, or trying to find the perfect skyline of Chicago downtown, You can find images on any subject within a few minutes of search. Their variety allows greater flexibility to website creative teams.
4. Editable Pictures
You can edit these images as per your requirements. You can change the brightness, add text, draw doodle images, and even add layers to these pictures. You can use your imagination in many ways to make these photos work for you. Unless the license states so, there is no restriction on how you use these stock photos.
Downsides of Stock Photos
There are plenty of reasons to opt for stock photos. However, you have to consider the downsides as well. Here are some of the factors before making up your mind about using them.
1. Over Utilized Images
Stock photos offer some of the most outstanding images you’ll ever see. However, millions of people around the globe have access to the same images as you. Some of the better images may have been used tons of times already in different blogs, websites, and online ad campaigns.
So if you’re looking for a stock photo for your website, try to find one that is relatively newly taken and has not been used many times before. You can also make adjustments to these pictures to make them look different.
2. Issues with Personalization
You can make changes to the pictures as per your liking, but you can often not achieve the personalized feel you are looking for. For example, you can have fantastic studio images available in stock for a library, but none of them will be taken in your own photo studio.
So, even though they’re brilliant, you will need to use snaps you take of your place. You obviously want to avoid false advertising.
3. License limitations
There are multiple types of licenses for stock photos, and most of them allow commercial use and alterations to be made to these pictures. However, there may be restrictions in individual cases.
So always carefully read the license agreement to ensure that the perfect stock image also offers you the proper terms of usage.
Use of Original Pictures
This is an ideal option for people that have a good sense of photography. Your photos include pictures taken by professionals, especially for you. Let’s look at the benefits of taking your own images.
1. Highly Personalized
If you’re looking for pictures that are personalized, taking your photos is the perfect solution. You can decide the locations, the settings, and other details for the images to be perfect. You can also choose the creative elements of the photos.
2. No Licence Issues
Whether you take them yourself or hire a professional for this task, the photographs will be your property. You will, of course, need to get a release form signed by the photographer stating as such. Owning these images is a significant advantage compared to using stock photos.
3. Fully Customizable
You can customize your original pictures as per the specific needs of any page. It not only allows originality but also makes the website more attractive. It’s a big plus for original photos.
Downsides of Original Photos
There are some downsides of the original photos as well which we will discuss below.
1. High Cost
These can be fairly expensive if you hire the services of a professional photographer. They can charge several hundred dollars for a couple of days of work. While it is worth paying, it can dent a smaller website financially.
2. Time Consuming
While you can immediately find and download stock photos online, taking original photos may require some planning. If you need urgent snaps, it might not be a good option.
3. Limited Scope
Mostly there is a time and budget constraint in the use of original photos. Scope limitation is another factor. If you’re adding pictures for a client that offers travel tours across the country, it will be hard to go to at least some of those places and get pictures.
Which Option is Better
There is no single perfect option in this case, and it is the type of content that dictates whether you use original photos or stock images. There are also some other factors at play that have an impact:
1. Webpage Type
The nature of the webpage has an impact on the photo option. Suppose you have an ad campaign that requires many pictures from diverse subjects; you are probably better off using stock photos.
If you’re looking to add product pictures to your website, you should take your pictures. You want the snaps to be a direct representation of your work. Ideally the original photos of the products are snapped by a professional.
2. Budget Availability
If you’re working on a tight budget, stock photos are a perfect option. They are especially helpful if you need a large number of pictures.
However, if you have a big budget that allows for more creativity, you can hire a professional to take the pictures. In most cases, you can achieve the desired results within a couple of days in the field.
3. Time Availability
Another vital factor to consider is the availability of time. If you have time to take original pictures, it is an excellent way to go forward. You should ensure that you have two to three weeks at hand. You should also look into getting the ideal pictures for your page or your online ad campaign.
If you need to deliver the updates on short notice, say within 2-3 days, stick with stock photos unless you only need a couple of pictures that you can easily take. If you’re a skilled photographer, that can help your cause as well.
4. Market Niche
Your market segment or niche is also essential for determining which kind of photos are ideal for you. If your page is about your artwork or a unique product? You should take original pictures in such a situation.
However, if you’re advertising paper rims online for printers from different brands, stock images are certainly a better option.
It comes down to several factors such as budget, time available, and in-person preferences. It also depends on the nature of the content. Stock photos are great if you’re promoting an online sales campaign for a website. However, if you’re looking to promote a personal blog, it should rely more on original images.
In many cases, people opt for a combination of their pictures as well as stock images. This quickly fixes any shortcomings and saves a lot of time and money. So be willing to show flexibility and consider all options before you make the final call. You will undoubtedly find the perfect solution for your needs.