Why stock images are bad for business!
We all use stock images but are they really good for business? In fact stock images are bad for business!
You are driving down the road and you see this big billboard with a terrific image on it. You think to yourself that’s a great image and that it looks familiar. Quickly you realise it’s the one you used in a recent marketing campaign.
Then you take a closer look and you realise that it’s advertising your competitor’s product or service.
The fine print
Seething, you get to your office and send a nasty email to the stock agency you used.
Later that day you get a response that draws your attention to their terms and conditions which basically say that they have no control over how the image is used.
In other words, as long as they get paid they don’t really care.
Hiring your own photographer
Now imagine that you are driving down that same road and you see the same billboard.
It has a great image on it that’s advertising your business and no one can else can use that image without your express permission.
Now you may be thinking that you got that image by hiring a good photographer.
When a photographer conducts a shoot for any business (or wedding or portrait session or any other third party) they keep the copyright. So what that can mean is that unless you have a watertight contract with them, that they are prepared to sign (and then the price will increase) they can resell that image to another business or alternatively a stock agency.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that many photographers would knowingly sell an image commissioned by you to your competitor but they, like you, need to make a living.
But it does highlight the legal minefield that is copyright.
So what to do?
They only way to truly retain copyright is take the image yourself or have an employee take it. In the former you own the copyright and in the latter provided the employee takes it in the course of their employment, again you as the employer, own the copyright.
Another good reason to take these images yourself or use a photographer (if you are prepared to pay for some control of the copyright) is creative control.
The disadvantages of using a stock agency
Stock agencies have thousands of images. Scrolling through that many, even with the great search engines that most of them have, is time consuming and you could end up settling for second best.
Of course you could outsource the selection to a marketing company or even the stock agency itself by giving them a brief.
Again you are giving away your creative control, not to mention the additional expense you will incur. And who’s to say that they will come up with a what you are looking for.
I know that when I have submitted images along with many other photographers for a stock agency brief, often the client ends up not choosing any image.
Which is a pain for everyone, especially me, which I why I’m very selective these days but I digress.
Take your own Stock images
But, I hear you cry, none of us have the expertise to take really good images.
That can be taken care of easily, the web is awash with tutorials and tips on how to take great images.
Off course these are aimed at the amateur photographer who could be looking for information to take great family shots right through looking to carve out a career as a photographer.
Taking photos (and videos) for business marketing is different and similar in a lot of ways to travel photography. Not harder or easier but different.
The eye should be looking to make your product or service as attractive as possible sometimes in an obvious way, other times in a subliminal or subtle way.
Some of the articles on this site are intended to bridge that gap. My goal is to help small business owners raise the quality of both their image and marketing by providing the information that they need to improve their photography.
Plus I will give options on where are the best platforms are to post or use their images.
So come and regularly visit my site nickkatin.com or subscribe below to get the latest articles into your inbox and a free guide on where to start.