Stock Photography vs. Real Photos

A Classic Marketing Debate

Stock images or real photos? It’s an age-old marketing question that every business has asked themselves at some point. Because visual elements are so important, it’s crucial that you make the right decision when choosing between stock and real photos.

Stock Photography

Stock photography is any photo that you did not take yourself and was accessed from a photo bank. One of the best things about stock photography is that it is very cost-effective. There are many websites that will allow you to choose from a wide variety of images either for free or a very low price such as:

In addition, stock photography is really helpful for anyone working under a strict deadline. Instead of taking the time to take photos on your own, you could choose from a bunch of suitable images. Unfortunately, there are a few cons to using stock photography. The biggest concern here is that there is nothing to stop anyone else from using the same photo as you. You might find that same image on someone else’s site more often than you’d like.

Real Photos

Real photos are images taken by you or someone you paid. In either case, you are the sole owner of the image and have complete control over when and where that photo is used. Of course, there are a lot of reasons to utilize real photographs in marketing. First, you have an original and authentic photo that nobody else can use. Think about how unique that makes your content. Real photos are also great because they can be taken with your vision in mind. Whatever you need, a real photo can achieve. Real photos also benefit your brand’s search engine optimization. We know now that SEO ranks real, organic photographs much higher than stock photos. If you are looking for new ways to bump up your search ranking, incorporating authentic photos into your content is a great strategy. Finally, real images are quickly becoming the preferred choice of both creators and viewers. The only downside we can think of for real photographs is that it has the potential to be expensive and/or time consuming.

Stock Photography vs. Real Photos

While we would love to say that one of these options is better than the other, it’s just not that simple. Ultimately, the decision to use stock photos or real images comes back to the project at hand. Some good examples of this would be in the food industry or a dentist. Let’s start with food! Think about any food products you research or follow on social media. It would be really weird for that brand to post a general stock photo of a similar product instead of their own. In fact, it might even raise some concerns on the consumer side because of the company’s inability to share real photos. On the other hand, you likely wouldn’t blink twice if you saw a dental website or social account that scattered in some stock photos every now and again. In that industry, taking real photos might be more difficult and, let’s face it, uncomfortable whereas a stock photo is less invasive and still gets the job done! Ultimately, we feel comfortable saying that both types of photography have clear advantages and disadvantages. If you have an upcoming project to work on and a limited budget to work with, go with a stock photo! However, if the time frame and budget allow for it, real photos might help to boost your marketing efforts. Whatever you do, try to make sure that the image does a good job of representing your brand!

Designing the perfect piece of content can feel overwhelming at times. The words, placement, and images all need to work together to reinforce your brand voice and increase return on investment. If you are looking for some help with content creation, Point of Action Marketing can help! Fill out our contact form and tell us what kind of support you’re looking for. We’d love to collaborate with you!