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Stock Vs. Custom Photography: Your Guide to Commercial Photography

May 28, 2024

Types of Commercial Photography - Stock and Custom Photography

With social media being one of the biggest marketing platforms for businesses, commercial photography has become an integral part of online marketing. Your company’s imagery should establish an authentic, personal sense of your business through stock and custom photos. Stock photos have become extremely common, and it no longer takes a trained eye to differentiate between staged photos and original photography. In moderation, stock photos can work wonders, but nothing can replace the quality of original photos from a professional photographer. If you don’t like what you see when you look in the marketing mirror, we’re here to help! We’ve gathered everything you need to know about digital marketing and photography, such as when to use images and how to benefit from them, so you can start loving what you see.

What Is Stock Photography?

Stock photography is professional photographs sold online to be used and reused for commercial design purposes. Stock photography services are convenient because you can search a stock photo site for any image immediately. It’s important to pay close attention to the rules or conditions that often come with stock images. Hiring a professional photographer for every marketing campaign can be expensive, making stock photography the cheapest way to switch up your social media content. While it may seem more convenient than custom photography, it may not be the best solution if you post regularly. 

What Is Custom Photography?

Custom photography involves working with a photographer to capture images that reflect your business or brand. Custom photography sessions are personalized to your brand's image and goals. It can be more expensive than stock photography, but custom photos will help you establish a stronger and more memorable connection with your audience. According to MDG Advertising, 67% of consumers rated high-quality photos as a major part of selecting and purchasing a product. Custom photography shows your audience your authentic work environment, employees, services, and products, drawing in customers. 

When Should I Use Stock vs. Custom Photography?

First impressions are everything and custom photography draws in your potential customers before they ever interact with your company. Photos showcase your product's quality and instill trust in your audience. Stock photos are versatile, but only custom photos can show your genuine authenticity. Custom stock photography is also a great option if you are looking for original photos you can switch up, add filters to, or manipulate to fit your campaign. 

Industries benefiting from custom photography marketing include:

  • Food and Beverage Photography - Your audience wants to see your menu items, not someone else's. Custom photos will show your potential customers exactly what to expect when they visit your restaurant.
  • Nonprofit Photography - A picture is worth a thousand words, and custom photos allow your brand to convey its values and viewpoints to your audience. 
  • Retail Photography - Custom photos showcase your products, attract new customers, and prompt sales.
  • Fine Art Photography - Effectively communicates your brand's emotions and ideas to attract your audience. 

Industries benefiting from stock photography marketing include:

  • Healthcare Photography - Your patient's privacy, including their photograph, is protected by HHS and OCR. Stock photos are a great solution to protect your company from breaking HIPPA regulations.
  • Businesses Providing Professional Services - Some services can be difficult to photograph. Using generic stock photos relating to your services will draw potential customers to your site. 
  • Legal Stock Photography - Aside from headshots, stock photography, such as generic photos of contracts, can be a great option for law firms and legal companies.

Commercial Photography Services in St. Louis

Choosing when to use stock images or custom photography for your company's social media content can be tricky, but Cork Tree Creative is here to help. As one of the top St. Louis photography marketing agencies, we offer marketing photography and product photography services, along with social media and web design services. You can’t buy organic engagement, but you can build it, and we have all the tools you need! Learn more about the creative services we offer. It’s time for a photography refresh, and with our in-house professional photography services, you can show your audience your authentic self. Let’s change the way your brand is seen because your brand is more than just a logo; it's a story waiting to be told.