If you have made the wise decision to invest in stock photography for your business’s commercial photograph needs, you know how much value stock photos can provide your company. If you want to avoid legal concerns while sparing your wallet, but need quality photographs, stock photography is a no brainer. But that doesn’t mean you want to overpay for whatever stock photo online service you use: as a smart business owner, you need to count every dollar. Which begs the question: are you paying too much for stock photos online?
Cost vs. Value of Stock Photography
Yes, your stock photography needs might be costing you a pretty penny. But just like any business decision, you have to consider carefully how much value you are getting for your dollar.
The old saying “a picture tells a thousand words” is only getting more true in the digital age, as attention spans wane and websites get crowded with walls of text. First and foremost, the value of the best stock photos online revolves around something intangible but important: the way your site looks, and the impression your business makes on a potential customer at first site. Good stock photography provides tremendous value from an aesthetic perspective, as it is incomparably better looking than the pictureless alternative.
Additionally, stock photos online provide value as an insurance mechanism against law suits in your business’s future. If your site is for commercial purposes, it is actually illegal to use a photographer’s work without paying them. Which means that if you grab any old picture off of a Google image search and put it on your website, the artist that took it has a right to sue your company for infringement issues, and you could be dealing with a costly settlement. Stock photography provides an incredible value by protecting you from such legal issues down the road, as all stock photo agencies have to have the right commercial licenses for all of their photography offerings.
As a business owner, you will have to decide if the value of stock photography is worth the cost. But consider two things. By not having photography on your site at all, you risk losing clients which may be turned off by the unprofessional and ugly look of your site. And by using images that aren’t licensed properly, you open yourself up to big lawsuits down the road. In that context, the cost of your stock photography probably doesn’t seem quite as high. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways you can save money, and get as much value out of your stock photography budget as possible.
How To Be Sure Your Aren’t Paying Too Much For Stock Photos
When assessing your stock photo budget, you need to be honest with yourself about how images are used and how much they are needed. Are you incorporating stock photography into daily blog posts? Or do you only need a few nice stock photos for your landing pages? Depending on how you answer these questions, there are some easy things you can do to make sure you aren’t overpaying for stock photos online.
First, be realistic about exactly how many stock photos you will need for your site every month. If the number is low, look into on demand stock photo packages. While you will be paying a lot more per image than you would for a subscription service that allows for a certain number of monthly downloads, the overall cost may be lower for your needs. Don’t get tricked into “unlimited” packages if you don’t need too many pictures. Instead get smart and go for a on demand service. Alternatively, if you are using lots of images every month, a subscription or massive download package may be your best bet.
Second, think about how you are using the stock photos you are downloading. Are the pictures being used for banners, or otherwise being blown up to big sizes where resolution and definition matter? If so, make sure to pay the little extra for HD photos that most sites offer. If not, think about downloading a smaller version of the stock photo that you need, as smaller files and standard definition photos are usually cheaper from on demand stock photography retailers.
The Bottom Line:
If you run a commercial website, stock photography is probably a smart investment. The alternatives are plain ugly, from aesthetic and legal perspectives. But whether or not you pay for stock photography will of course be a personal business decision, and be based on the value your company gets out of the photos. Before deciding to swear off of stock photos all together, be sure to get realistic about your photo needs, and find the right package for your budget and usage. Just don’t decide you are paying too much for stock photography before you think about value and your options.