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I’ll get right to the point: I dislike stock photography. Sure, stock photos have their place and can be used effectively when necessary. But relying on stock photos for your website to communicate your message is a huge mistake, and here’s why:

Stock photos don’t tell YOUR company story

Stock photos are created to be used across multiple channels (web, print, etc.) and to illustrate multiple story ideas. Hence, they’re quite generic and cliched. While many stock photos do tell a story, they don’t tell YOUR story. They lack detail — the very details that set your company apart.

new-england-electropolishing

Stock photos are overused

Stock photos are meant to be used by hundreds if not thousands of people. This means that often a stock photo, image, or model is *everywhere.* I’ve seen the same female model on my bank’s advertising, on B2B and B2C websites, and in print ads.

When you view multiple websites in the same industry the way I do, you begin to see the same photos used across these websites, which makes it really difficult for B2B buyers to differentiate your company and its message from your competitors.

Why? Because all the websites look the same.

Why original photography makes a difference

Good, original photography works hand-in-hand with a website’s copy because it supports the message.

Example: Appli-Tec, Inc.

Appli-Tec manufactures pre-mixed and frozen adhesives. Their message is about delivering consistent results, lot-to-lot, every time. They do this through rigorous testing, a clean-room like facility, and 100% traceability (among other things).

When you walk into their facility, you notice right away how they live their message: engineers wear white lab coats or jackets over clothing, hair covers, and latex gloves. Appli-Tec’s adhesive mixing and testing rooms are spotless.

Sure, you can communicate this message with words, but original professionally-taken photos do it 100 times better.

appli-tec

Why this photo works:

The equipment subtly reinforces “space grade” — Details such as the stainless steel mixing tank, its circular view window, and the red digital readout all reinforce the copy without having to say a word.

The person is posed but not staged — When this photo was taken, the person in the photo was actually running an adhesive mix, which means, he’s working while being photographed. He looks relaxed and focused.

You can see background details — When we look at photos, our brain register fine details; they’re what help us make subtle assumptions about what we’re viewing.

In this photo you can see the various electrical, gas, and other lines running along the walls. Everything is straight, clean, and well-laid out. Efficient. These attributes become part of the unspoken assumptions Appli-Tec’s target audience (engineers) make about the company.

It’s geeky cool — The guy’s bald head, his earring and green safety glasses, and the mixing tank all add up to an original photo that’s visually strong and appealing.

Original photography well worth the investment

When I recommend hiring a professional photographer at the start of a web overhaul project, the client hesitates due to the mistaken idea that professional photography is expensive. In actuality, an experienced industrial photographer can shoot dozens of images in a day or less at a reasonable fee (and photoshop them too!).

Once you’ve made the investment, you can use your photographs to reinforce your brand and message across other marketing communications pieces, including e-newsletters, print ads, press releases, white papers, datasheets, PowerPoints, and trade show banners and displays.

What do you think? Have a thought or two to add regarding original photography? Please share in the comments section!


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Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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