Stock photography – the marmite of the media world. Some love it, some not so much… But why? It’s convenient, easy to access and cheap. However, there are also a number of drawbacks – particularly in ecommerce. Read on as we explore the ups and the downs of stock photography, and how the alternatives compare.

What is stock photography?

For those who aren’t aware, stock photography is a collection (or ‘stock’) of images online. Users can browse the images, which are organised using tags and categories, to find one that fits the bill. If they find one they like, they can purchase the image either for a standard fee, or based on how it will be used. Some are even free.

A few good points

Clearly, this system has some advantages. For one, it’s cheap. Stock photos are affordable even on the tightest budget. They have a range of prices, based on size, resolution and usage rights. It’s also time efficient. The images can be downloaded at the click of a button, and are ready to use instantly.

With the amount of stock photography sites, and the number of budding photographers getting involved, you also benefit from impressive variety. There are thousands of images covering all sorts of topics. Whether it’s a maple leaf or a heated argument, there’s probably something you can use.

…and what’s not so good?

The main problem with stock photography is that it’s not always so easy to find exactly what you want or need. In ecommerce, this is huge. Stock photos are taken of generic situations, settings and objects. They’re OK, just about doing the job.

Stock photographers want to take generic photos that will be used by as many people as possible. To achieve this, they take photos that don’t say anything in particular. It’s impossible to convey a consistent brand message when your images are bland.

Owned by everyone

Another downside is exclusivity. When you hire a photographer or agency, you get exclusive photos that are yours and only yours to use. Using stock photography, you can never be sure who else has purchased and used those photos – and for what purpose. It’s impossible to stand out from the crowd if you’re using the same photos as them. You can’t convey a unique selling point without unique images.

There’s also the issue of licencing. Some stock photos are prohibited for advertising, with others that can’t be used multiple times. It’s fine as a one-off. But if you’re using multiple photos, it can become confusing and time-consuming remembering which rights you have for each photo.

The choice is yours

All of these downsides are bad enough for any business website. But in e-commerce, it’s even more important to get photography right. Customers want to see your exact products, not some generic images. With professional photography, you can show off your products, display them at their best and highlight how they can benefit customers. A picture really is worth a thousand words for your products.

With photography, you get what you pay for. Stock photography is cheap, and this message can be projected onto your products and brand too. Professional photography, on the other hand, allows you to specify exactly what you need. It’s food made to order; A well-tailored suit; A custom made car. You get the point.

How can we help?

At Fluid Digital, we don’t compromise on quality for your site. We provide high quality Magento e-commerce sites to businesses big and small. From the images to the site layout with all the content and navigation in between, we have the skills to get your brand noticed and reflect your voice perfectly. Don’t take our word for it – get in touch and see for yourself.