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Why Original Photos are Better than Stock Photos

Nick Tatoian


Last night as I was watching my subscription-based television platform, I was served an OTT commercial that caught my attention. (Curious to what OTT is? Learn more about that here.) It wasn’t that the ad was particularly good; in fact, I don’t even remember what it was for because I was distracted by the fact that I recognized the woman and baby in the commercial.

I had to pause to think about how I knew them, and I quickly realized, I don’t know them at all. I had just seen a photo of the same woman and baby when I was searching for stock photos for a project! Why do so many companies use stock video clips and photos even though they run the risk of using the same image as another brand? The answer is very straightforward: budget and time constraints. However, before you decide your own content is not worth the investment, consider the value of having a unique brand image. Consider what your needs are for images and videos. You might even realize you are perfectly capable of taking your own for certain uses. Here are the top 5 reasons to consider building your own brand image and video library.

Why You Should Build Your Image/Video Library


The 2020 Edelman Brand Trust Barometer survey found that trust is now more important than brand reputation, second only to price when a buyer is making a decision. When you use your own images, your brand is seen as more honest and trustworthy. Generally, stock photos are not an authentic representation of your brand.


Using your own unique images on your website can support your SEO efforts. The more original images you have on your website, the better the experience for the user which increases your odds of ranking.

Stand Out.

Stock photos are pretty obvious to spot. We’ve all seen the photo of the office meeting where everyone is smiling, the couple having coffee in their pristine kitchen, the family with the perfectly cut grass and freshly groomed dog. That’s not what real life looks like and it shows.

Social Media.

Inauthentic images and videos are particularly noticeable on social media. Almost everyone has a phone with a camera, and while those photos may not be useable for your website hero image or a print ad, they are perfectly acceptable for social. There’s no excuse anymore to say we can’t afford to hire a photographer or videographer. Audiences want to see the people behind your brand, and the work that goes into your products or services. Stock photos or videos could represent any brand. What makes your brand different? No one expects perfection on social media. They expect real. Have you ever taken a photo of your family and framed it? Have you ever posted a video to a personal account? If it was good enough for you to take the time and print or post, it’s likely good enough for your audience to see on social. And there are thousands of resources and tips available to help you take better phone photos. It’s effort, but it literally costs you nothing to try. Sharing your own images on your social accounts adds to your authenticity and trustworthiness.

The Right Image.

You can spend HOURS searching for the photo you need and still never find it. Are you a cleaning company with specialized equipment? You’re likely not going to find an image with the right equipment. Do you have your own shop? Highly unlikely that you will be able to find an image of the inside of a store you could pass off as your own. We highly recommend making the investment of building your own brand image library. However, we also understand the reality that sometimes you have to rely on stock photos. Keep an eye out for part two of this series: “How to Use Stock Photos When You Have To”

Nick Tatoian

Nick Tatoian

Digital Content Strategist, Holland Adhaus

Nick is always looking to work with others to create an all-encompassing strategy.

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