Oh-M-G it’s been more than two weeks since my last post! #smh

Been busy putting together a couple of promotional blasts and about half a dozen shoots. Oh you know what that entails – booking hair, makeup, scouting locations, researching concepts, scouting alternate locations, sundialing (staying put and observing what the sun does at a location), configuring equipment packages, etc. Speaking of promotions…

There was this jewelry store that opened downstairs from the studio where I used to work at and it seemed like a pretty big competitor for one of our clients. I came back from a the coffee shop one time and this from that store guy handed me one of their flyers.

“Oh wow they actually do semi decent ads”

I wouldn’t call it first rate but it was definitely better than what most of the stores in the area were doing. Fast forward several weeks and I had to go on iStock photo to get some reference pics for a lifestyle shoot. Alas I saw the pic that the jewelry store used for their actual ad (they added the text of course).

Read up on any material that talks about the photography business and you will most definitely find the talk about how budgets are shrinking and how companies have resulted to using stock images instead of commissioning a photographer to shoot for the same spec (there’s the famous Time magazine cover of course. Click on that link on the left for a side-by-side shot with the stock image).

Stock photos are cool – the ones from good sources are done really well, they’re inexpensive, and they’re almost readily available provided you put enough time looking. They do, however, have their own respective uses.

So you own a restaurant business and you also do catering. The “We Do Catering” section of your website needs a photo. In this case, the smart thing to do would be to hop on one of those stock photo sites, look for an appropriate image, and purchase it for like $10. There’s probably not a lot of sense in doing an entire full-scale shoot just to get a small web-sized photo of a guy smiling in front of a catered buffet table. Renting a studio, renting gear, casting for a model (of course you can always use Bob from the kitchen), hiring hair/makeup, hiring prop stylist, food stylist, wardrobe stylists, and booking a photographer who can properly light all them stainless steel catering trays while keeping the fire at the heater-burner thingy at the bottom will surely costs you THOUSANDS of dollars.

Stock photos are good.

What about your homepage? What about your flyers? What about the rest of your front-line promotional materials? Do you tell one of the office people to look for stock photos for those too?

Well…does the pic have the same place settings? Does it have the same tablecloths (or ones you have access to)? Does it have the same food? Does it have the same arrangement style? In other words – does it speak [Enter Your Company Name Here]

(Actually if it does, then you might want to rethink some things)

Stock photographers make their money from relicensing images over and over and over… Because of this, the images have to be done in such a way that they’re applicable to a broad range of purposes oftentimes with plain or very bright backgrounds (so they’re easy to mask out with existing material). However, they’re not specifically produced for one particular user – you. They may have the same general mood that you want in your material but they may not have the little things that set your company apart from others. Sometimes those little things that stand out is the life and death of a business.

But they’re cheap.

Yes. They are inexpensive.

You don’t have the budget to produce your own images so you decided to use stock images for your front-line promotional materials. Someone else might have used the same image. When you have a customer that sees yours after seeing theirs, they’ll have the same reaction as I did when I saw the photo of the jewelry store ad on iStock photo

Yeah, I’d walk away too. But then again that’s just me cause I pay attention to ads ^_^

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About Carlo

I like film photography, K-pop, and yogurt soju.

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