Images for my Website – should I use stock photos, hire a photographer, or take my own?
Modern websites need modern looks. Gone are the days of the nineties where you could have wild neon colours and heavily pixelated, low quality images. Sites are dedicated to sharing images in better quality with things like filters that quickly improve and edit images. There are tons of images available from stock photography, professional photographers and a bevy of amateurs. What should you use? Should you just take them yourself? Let’s take a look!
Taking Pictures Yourself
Our world today is filled with cameras. They seem to be everywhere. Even our cell phones, which used to be no match for a digital camera dedicated to just taking photos, can taking stunning images. It is easier than ever to take better quality pictures. Because of the low barrier to entry and easy access to a decent camera, this is an option that can seem very appealing. It is quick, simple, and, depending on what you already have access to, can be a cheap option. But what are the draw backs?
The first draw back is the quality of your camera. This will vary a great deal depending on what you may already own. DSLR cameras and phones provide more bang for your buck than ever before in terms of what they can output. Especially with phones, the software that comes with them or third party apps, like Instagram, can provide powerful, simple editing and things like filters can help add personal flair. The downside here is that if you apply any filters or affects to the original photos, you may find them difficult or even impossible to remove.
The next issue can be that if you do not like the free options and want to edit your photos, some photo editing software can be quite expensive. Photoshop is great, but if you do not already have a copy and haven’t used it before the cost can be high. The cost is not only your money but the time it takes you to edit the images. Even free editing programs can have steep learning curves to figure out how to get the results you want.
Have you ever looked at photos and thought “It’s an alright photo but something is missing?” Composition and other choices photographers make when taking a shot can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes you may not even be able to say why one image is better than another. Many times, this can come down to personal preference. But there are better ways to compose an image, better times of day to take the image and different camera settings that take these and other items into account. Your ability to manage and adjust these items are going to vary depending on your experience and skill.
I have attached two images. One was taken with a consumer DSLR with a 24.1 MP camera. The other was taken with a mid-tier level cellphone with a 16 MP camera. Take a look at the two images and think about the initial impressions you get and the differences you see.
It does not take much time to figure out that image B was the DSLR image. The lighting is better, as is the colour reproduction. But notice the difference in the image framing. Even though the first one is a lower quality image and both images were taken within minutes of each other, the framing makes a difference. In the first photograph the buildings take centre stage while in the second one, the same street signs come much more to the forefront. So while taking an image yourself can turn out well, the wrong angle can make the wrong things standout.
With professional photography, there are two main options for getting professional photographs. The first option is getting stock photographs. There are a number of websites and libraries that offer stock photographs to suit a large variety of needs. The other option is hiring a professional photographer to do customized photos to exactly suit your needs and highlight your business and products. There are several differences that are important to note.
Look and Feel
Most of us can spot stock photographs from a mile away. They tend to be very generic. But that is the point of a stock photo. They are intended to bring an example of what you want to illustrate. They tend to be more basic as they are made to appeal to a variety of applications. They give an example of what you want to illustrate in a general manner. A great example is you want to show a family as you have a product directed towards families. Stock photos can be great for this as most families can picture themselves in a stock photo and the people in the image are not as important as the idea of family.
Custom photos can have a variety of looks. They can look very generic or be as different as you and your business are. Certain photographers have their own look and feel that comes with any of their photos. When you are getting custom photos done, they are generally one of a kind. They can highlight things like you, your employees, and your products in a way stock photos generally cannot. If you have a unique product or environment that is a part of your business, custom photos will highlight them in a way that stock photos could not.
This photograph was taken by a photographer we work with at Effortless Web Solutions named Julia. It is taken in the same general area of Peterborough as the photos above but you can see that her photograph has a great feel and wonderful framing. There is a clear difference in the quality of her image versus the images we took ourselves.
Both stock and customized professional photography are the work of professionals. Stock photos are intended to be used more frequently on various projects. As a result, they can be much more affordable, starting at a few dollars but they can range into the hundreds of dollars. Hired professionals tend to start higher than a stock photograph as they are only intended to be used by you. But we work with professionals who can offer exceptional value when you need a customized touch.
Ease of Use
Any time you work with Effortless Web Solutions, we make it very easy to get the right image for you. That being said, having a customized photograph taken by one of our professional partners can make it easy to get the exact look and feel you want. Stock images can make it easy to find a general idea but it may not easy to match the exact feel and look you want if it is something specific. As an example, using a local photographer to capture images in your area is a great way to remind your customers that you are a local company in a way stock images from elsewhere simply cannot.
When it comes to photography, modern technology and easier access means we have a lot of options to find just the image you want for your website. Whether you’re a photographer yourself, looking to convey a general idea or want a specific, stunning photograph, there is an option that will suit you. With our partners, Effortless Web Solutions can always help you to find the perfect picture to show the image you want. We can also offer objective options for you to make sure your site looks and performs its best!