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Customizing Your Site: Stock Photography vs. Custom Photography

How many websites do you look at every day? 10? 100? The truth is, we look at so many, that even analytics experts can’t pinpoint an average number. In fact, it’s so many that they don’t even use actual amounts any longer, instead they convert usage in hours. For example, the average web user is online more that 75 hours each month.

That’s a lot of surfing!

And in the same way people claim to read Playboy for the “articles,” we suspect you’re not reading much of the content that goes with these sites either. So, what are we so busy looking at?

You guessed it. Photos. Images. 

And of all those photos on all those sites, how many and which ones do you think are actually engaging the user?

Unfortunately, the truth is that many sites rely on stock photography to get their web messages across. What’s wrong with stock photography, you ask? Well, nothing in the grand scheme of things, but the problem is that many businesses rely on these generic images to push a product or a service that is anything but. They spend thousands of dollars paying web developers, designers, copywriters and marketing experts to help them clearly define themselves in industries full of the same old-same old, but where they sometimes fail to reach potential customers is through images.

So, why custom photography?

You need to hook your client. People lose interest after a few clicks of the mouse, and if you haven’t secured a memorable image for them, they will move on. Customizing your photographic style can mean distinguishing yourself from everyone else in the business. It gives your business a personality and can evoke emotion and even relay your business philosophy. It can also make a lasting impression on your potential client by engaging them on a personal level. No one likes to be lumped into a generic group, right?

Lowest common demoninator.

Never underestimate a web user. Stock imagery is easy to identify and regardless of whether or not the photo is a good one, the message it sends a potential customer is one of cliché and mediocrity. It says, “We don’t really care about our business enough to invest in this part of it.” Think about it, we spend millions every year buying cameras, going to movies, reading coffee table books filled with photos all to examine the intricacies of the image. It’s important to your user and it should be important to you and your business. 

But oh, the cost!

Custom photography probably isn’t as much as you think. Many marketing agencies offer an in-house photographer and if you’re already paying for their services, chances are the photographer comes at little extra charge. If you’re not using a marketing agency (and you should consider using one), check the local colleges and find a student who is looking for portfolio experience. You get inexpensive work and they get to say they did the photos for your site. It’s a win-win. 

The bottom line is that in an age where social media rules and SEO and Google indexing are now relying on much more of an interactive user experience, you have to decide who you are and what makes you different than everyone else. 

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