It is so exciting to see good photography in the corporate world, and rare. Like a unicorn, wait nope…unicorns are everywhere these days, like a platypus! You don’t see those too often.
Having access to millions of images for a low price or even free (hell, especially free) is cool, I won’t argue that, but when you start to see the same images popping up in different ads or when the model in your picture feels like a lifelong friend you come to realize either most creatives are being anything but, or that we rely way too heavily on these services. There is this one model I have seen in just about every country I have been to, in movies, in ads for everything under the sun, she has almost become part of the family. She has to be the most famous unknown in the planet and her images keep mushrooming everywhere, do you recognize her? If not, you might have been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years give or take.
I admit it, I fish out pictures from all these services, the paid and unpaid alike but I do try to stay away from the images I have seen a zillion times. In case you are wondering. Yes, I have used pictures of the girl mentioned before, guilty…she is after all like family but I refuse to use the one below. The thing is not that I have seen not this model no, but rather this exact same picture at least a dozen times already. This dude must work for about 50 different startups.
So, what is there to do? There is of course taking your own pictures. The reasons for not taking your own or having a professional do it are either money or time. Which comes out to be the same thing, money. Hiring a photographer is pricey although in most cases you really don’t need to anymore. Everyone is walking around with a super awesome camera in their pockets and considering that 99% of the times (true statistic, I just made it up) the images you use for your creative work will be seen on screen you really don’t need to worry about a million megapixels. Keep in mind that at least in the corporate world the tendency in photography is to go with casual, (hence the popularity of the hipster dude with the beard above) the Hollywood studio glam look with the perfect lighting and super photoshoped faces is now pase and makes you look fake (who knew) so yeah, your phone is just peachy for what you are likely to need.
But it takes time? Time as they say is relative, especially when you spend three hours on shutterstock, adobe stock, pexels, envato and unplash to find the same picture that might work 3 times in 3 different platforms but nothing that reaaaally quite clicks.
Think about it, how long would it take you to enlist someone at the office, shoot 50 or so pictures out of which at least a couple are likely to work and be done with it? Say half an hour? The end result would be a lot more genuine and would likely do more for your business than the stock image. I think one of the reasons we rely on stock companies is the perception that they save time, and while in many occasions they do a lot of the time they do the opposite.
I do think these services are great. Using elements from these pictures to make a composite makes total sense as the final product barely resembles anything that will be recognized as someone else’s work.
And let’s face it they are useful when the client does not have the budget for a photoshoot yet still want decent looking images (even if everyone and their cousin have used and abused them)