Self-made photos vs stock images: which to choose for your site

TIP: When you create a website for your company, always give preference to photos of real products and places over stock images.

A stock photography site is a library of images, a site where everyone can upload their shots to share them for free or in exchange for some money.

The history of stock photography sites in faces

At the dawn of the Internet stock photography sites gained huge popularity: people with Hollywood smiles attacked banners, magazine covers, leaflets, advertisements, etc. Then the Internet users started using them for fun and later first memes came to life. For example, "Hide the Pain Harold" (aka "Maurice") became popular thanks to his peculiar smile which seems to mask sorrow or discomfort.

Today sites of stock photography offer a great variety of image styles and topics: Polaroid pictures, lifestyle images, people with character and vibe who can embody your company's views and values.

You can browse awesome free images on Unsplash. If your limited budgets don’t include expenses on professional photographers, stock images are a perfect alternative to start with.

Just keep it in mind that stock images shouldn’t be used for everything. Prospects are coming to your site not to enjoy masterpieces of photography — they want to see your products and services, your employees and satisfied customers. People want to know what they will get for their money.

Stock images are good at creating the right mood, conveying abstract ideas, illustrating blogs, adding some background to the texts.

Product cards, work portfolios, testimonials need to contain real photos even if those aren’t top-quality images.

Case #1

If you are a nail technician, and you want to showcase your services — get a photo of the customer’s nails. Modern cameras in mobile phones can take really awesome pictures.

Текст скриншота: Manicure by Our Technician

Photos taken with a mobile phone look more realistic than stock images. If you are a small, round-the-corner studio in Centerville, its seems doubtful that most of your customers are supermodels.

Текст скриншота: Manicure by Our Technician

Case #2

Quite often small businesses need customers’ reviews to post on the sites but they don’t have extra time and money to take professional shots, and they don’t want to do some "slapdash work". So site owners fall back on stock photography sites or even give up the idea of adding this information block to the site.

Текст скриншота: What Our Customers Say

It was my first city’s roof tour and I really loved it. I would definitely recommend it to everyone.

Mary Smith

If you need testimonials, don’t be afraid of taking photos of your customers with a smartphone: choose a nice background in daylight and take a shot with your product or in the location where you’ve provided your service. Unstaged images will look more natural, and genuine emotions will express more than any words.

Текст скриншота: What Our Customers Say

It was my first city’s roof tour and I really loved it. I would definitely recommend it to everyone.

Mary Smith

Case #3

Stock photography sites offer loads of object images that will easily fit with your page.

Текст скриншота:
Paint a Picture

Even If You've Never Done it Before

We welcome amateurs and professionals of all ages and proficiency levels. Even if you've never made a brush stroke in your life, you are guaranteed to create your own painting at this workshop.

Even though stock images look cooler and are of higher quality, you should always prefer self-made photos to stock images when you need to showcase your works. It helps prospects to envision what they will get and forms realistic expectations.

Текст скриншота:
Paint a Picture

Even If You've Never Done it Before

We welcome amateurs and professionals of all ages and proficiency levels. Even if you've never made a brush stroke in your life, you are guaranteed to create your own painting at this workshop. 

Summary: which photos to use on the site

Stock images fit perfectly for adding the right mood to your page.

Testimonials, catalogs, About Us page — anything that showcases your work should go hand in hand with your own photos. If you don’t have an opportunity to hire a professional photographer, take pictures yourself. Using the right background and bright daylight, you can get high-quality images even with an average smartphone.