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Royalty Free Images vs Professional Photography: What you Need to Know

  • March 8, 2017
  • By JJ Johnson
  • In Digital Marketing, Website

By now, we all know that images in marketing and online communication are important (if not vital) to connecting with your reader and selling your point/product/services.

You want to stand out, make an impression, and elicit an emotional response with your content.  Images help make that goal a reality.  So why not simply use stock or royalty free images that you can grab for cheap or even free off of the internet?  Why pay for high quality, exclusive photos or even a professional photography session for your brand when the piles of online images seem endless?

Both options have their place, but it’s important to be wary of the photos you’re selecting to represent your brand.

A Lesson from Science

Distinction.  Impact.  Picture superiority.  Your images greatly influence and affect your target audience.  The idea here is that no matter which images you decide to go with for a particular space, make sure they’re notable and high quality.

Set Yourself Apart

When you use an image that can only be found on your website and among your branding set, you’re setting yourself apart.  You create an aura of exclusivity, but in a way that radiates sophistication rather than arrogance.  By using images that are yours and reflect your branding, your audience learns to recognize you and begins to see the style and pattern of what makes your company unique.  This statement flows from your products, to your logo, to your packaging, to your images.  Linking everything visually creates cohesion and balance which appeals to and stands out in a consumer’s overloaded visual landscape.

Even if you decide to use a stock or royalty free image, there are ways to make it your own with editing tools and various design tricks of the trade.  Do your research and make your photos stand out.

Take Advantage of Tech

The beauty of lightning fast technology advances is that amateur photographers can now create beautiful, usable images fit for professional branding.  Resources for editing and free guides on upping your photography game are abundant.  Cellphones are now capable of capturing higher quality images than many point and shoot cameras, and many amateur photographers have made themselves masters of using photos from their mobile devices for professional purposes.  Scores of these people are happy to share their knowledge through tutorials.  Add to the tutorials mobile applications for editing on the fly, and your professional imagery pursuits are now a reality.

This goes hand in hand with your stock images:  use tutorials and tools to your advantage to masterfully edit and reimagine royalty free images that may not be unique to your site or branding.

Pause and Reflect

Next time you jump onto a royalty free site to find a photo to represent your branding, take a moment to see if there’s a way to use a photo you own, one you’ve taken, that can fit (or be edited to do so) the content or ad you’re creating.  Better yet, snap photos on the go of inspirational spaces, blank canvases, bright lettering or buildings, breathtaking landscapes, minuscule details…any of these things could be edited, overlaid with text, or otherwise manipulated to fit your marketing needs.

If time isn’t on your side and you need to grab a quick free photo, by all means do so.  Just make sure it’s properly reflecting your brand and style.

Never underestimate the power of images.  Use a sharp eye when grabbing photos that represent your brand and stay true to you whether you’re using professional photography or royalty free images.

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” - STEVE JOBS

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