9 Reasons to Commission Photography over Stock Images

Commission Photography or Stock Images? 9 Reasons to Commission Photography


Photography, or imagery in general, can be one of the most powerful and important aspects for every marketing campaign.  Images and photography can be the decisive factor into what draws your audience to your ad (read a little more about impactful images in our other blog post “5 Key Elements to Set Your Advertising Apart“).  The image(s) you choose or use can be the reason your advertising campaign succeeds or fails and you therefore want to make sure you get it right.


In this post about why you should commission photography instead of buying stock, we will consider these nine points:

1.  Product Placement

2.  Uniqueness

3.  Consistency

4.  Brand Image/Personality

5.  Customisation

6.  The Legal Stuff

7.  Making Your Budget Work Harder

8.  Fun!

9.  Exposure



1. Product Placement

Seems obvious, but many businesses will sacrifice having their products or brands feature in advertising images and use a stock images, or worse try to PhotoShop their product into stock images!  If you really want to build a brand presence around your advertising campaign, your brand or product has to be represented in the image.  The only way this is possible with any realism is to commission photography instead of using stock images.



2. Uniqueness

One of the main problems with stock images is that you are one of hundreds (if not thousands) of people that have bought that same image.  That image may get edited and modified to suit their purpose, but the underlying “feel” is the same.  When you commission photography for your campaign you are getting images that are specific to you and your campaign.  The photographer will not sell those images to other people, and you have truly unique images to represent your tone of voice and brand personality.


3.  Consistency

This is a huge advantage when you commission photography.  Most photo shoots will be organised to allow several images to be taken in the same sitting.  This translates into finished images that will have a consistent look and style.  The resulting marketing communication or campaign will be consistent, recognisable and impactful which will lead onto an increase in brand awareness and hopefully consideration.




4.  Brand Image/Personality

Anyone who has spent over an hour delving the depths of stock photography sites looking for just the right image, angle, colour way, orientation etc will tell you commissioning a lifestyle product shoot would’ve been a better use of their time. Ultimately you are at the mercy of the selection available and the eye of a photographer that was looking at the composition in a general way and not with your brand/product in mind. You can’t tell a stock image what your brief is and you can’t then ask them to move things around a little, or change this product out for another one.  When you commission photography, you can control every element of the image (unless you’re working with animals or children!) to ensure the end result is EXACTLY what you are looking for.


5. Customisation

Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi said, “A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” Let’s face it, you’ve committed time and energy developing shot lists, booking the right model for your brand image and the perfect location to backdrop the scene but most of the time the image you’ll end up loving is the one “light bulb moment” picture that came to you on set.  Only commissioned photography can offer you this flexibility and freedom and it’s something the photographer will be more than happy to let you create.


6. The Legal Stuff

Some stock image agencies will require a model and property release, the ones that don’t will usually allow you to use the images, but only for editorial purposes.  When you commission photography, as part of the service, the photographer will obtain relevant model releases from the participating models and property releases when applicable which will allow you to use the images wherever you need to without restriction.


7. Making Your Budget Work Harder

Yes, you read that right.  If you commission photography it is often cheaper than purchasing stock images for use.  There are some sites out there where you can purchase “micro stock” image.  However, as the name suggests these images are often of very low quality and may come with very limited terms of use.  When you commission photography, the photographer will tailor the price and license for your project, need to advertise in the Far East? Your photographer will be able to advise what license is required for this use.  High quality stock sites can charge you in the high thousands for the use of 1 image over a couple of years on a couple of medium.  When you commission photography, you often get multiple images to use included in the quoted price.


8. Fun!

When you commission photography, unless you feel comfortable letting the photographer deliver your vision, you get to be a part of the photo shoot as well.  Photo shoots are often relaxed, light-hearted and fun (well, they are with me at least!), it’s a chance to get away from your desk and really let your creative hair down.


9. Exposure

Finally, when you commission photography you will often get additional exposure from it.  Photographers have portfolio’s, and will often showcase the images from shoots on their website and social media pages…and more often than not will cite the brand or campaign that they were for.  A lot of photographers will often enter competitions with these images and if they win awards for these images you will gain free additional exposure in photography trade press and photographers are consumers too!


So there you have it.  Nine good reasons to commission photography instead of purchasing stock images!  Do you have any more reasons that we didn’t list?  List them in the comments!