There are four common ways my clients get their images for their website and marketing collateral.

  • DIY Images
  • Stock Images
  • Supplier Images
  • Engaging a Pro Photographer

Many people would expect me, a photographer, to tell you engage a pro and to always use the best quality image – which is likely going to cost more.

But this isn’t always the smartest choice, which is why I don’t always advise this.

Below I have put together a summary with the pros and cons of each source.


DIY Photography

Pros

  • Can be very low cost – If you know what you’re doing, a camera phone will get acceptable web quality
  • Fast – can get you out of trouble quickly
  • Anyone can use a camera phone – a proper camera is another story

Cons

  • Not consistent in look
  • Time consuming doing it yourself
  • To have high quality images you’ll require expensive equipment
  • Takes years of practice to get great images
  • Poor quality for print
  • Camera phones normally offer poor quality unless you know what you’re doing


When to use DIY photos?

DIY images can be great when it doesn’t make economic sense to hire a photographer. For example, many of my clients use a mix of Professional, DIY and Stock images for Instagram, Facebook posts, blog articles. DIY is also good for quick pictures for internal use.

When not to use DIY photos?
Ask yourself if the DIY image you’ve just taken matches the brand values. Does the image match the quality of your company or product?

Generally selfie pictures of your customers and you are acceptable as DIY images. Some social media content is too. Your product photos, business premises, staff action images, corporate portraits should be high quality – anything that your customers will see and will judge.


Supplier Images
Pros

  • Convenient and Often Easy to Access
  • Low Cost

Cons

  • Varying Quality – Often Poor
  • Your marketing materials will not be consistent in look – since images have been taken by different photographers
  • Your competitors could easily use the same images
  • Don’t always suit specific purpose
  • May not match your product/service or brand exactly


When to use supplier photos?

If supplier images are good quality and consistent with the rest of your imagery then I would encourage you to use them as they are essentially free.

When to not use supplier photos?
If you want to make sure your imagery is 100% unique or you need your images to be consistent with the rest of your brand or website, supplier images are not a good choice.

Often supplier images are not print quality so it’s best to check the images are suitable before printing collateral.


Professional Photography
Pros

  • Consistency across all your imagery
  • Represent your brand’s quality
  • High quality imagery suitable for print or web
  • Tell your brand’s story
  • Will help you come up with best ideas
  • Collaborate on the shoot to get the perfect image

Cons

  • More upfront cost but often higher long-term value
  • Will need to take time to write a brief
  • Quality varies from photographer to photographer – find a good one and stick to them


When to hire a professional photographer
If you’re an established company and value how you present your business then it’s probably time to hire a professional photographer. If you’re not happy with the quality of your existing images or you have specific content or imagery you need to create, it may be time to hire a professional too.

When not to use a professional photographer?
If you’re a small struggling brand you’ll be better off to spend your money on getting more customers or improving your product.

If you need a very specific image that is going to be expensive to produce it may not be worth hiring a professional – stock might be a better choice e.g. an image of a model in an overseas location that requires a lot of set up and props.


Stock Photography
Pros

  • High quality imagery suitable for print or web
  • Easy to Access
  • Low Cost

Cons

  • Not consistent in look since they are taken by different photographers
  • Time consuming – you can spend hours sifting through literally millions of images
  • Your competitors could easily use the same images
  • Can’t always find what you want
  • Often look cheesy – today’s buyer knows they are not authentic
  • May not match your product/service or brand exactly


When to use stock photos?

Stock photos can be great for a one off marketing campaign provided you can find the right image. They can also be a good choice for social media and blogs in combination with professional photography.

When to not use stock photos?
If you have specific requirements or want to make sure your imagery is 100% unique, don’t use stock images.

If your website needs to look authentic and real, stock images may not be the right choice for you.