The advantages of bespoke commercial photography over buying stock art


The old adage that people buy from people is only half the story. It’s also a universal law that attracts like, so it’s perhaps truer to say that people buy from people they relate to. With Instagram being a part of modern life, it’s not hard to spot the pattern of likes and follows that demonstrably show consumers being drawn to a lifestyle they see themselves living or aspiring to live. That’s why online influencers have become hugely successful.

As of 2021, the most followed non-celebrity UK influencer had amassed an impressive 13.1 million Instagram devotees.

Their popularity is almost always harnessed by businesses as a marketing tool. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Influencers are selected because they themselves are the embodiment of the company’s ideal demographic. Their job is to ‘live’ the product and communicate their life through images. Consumers buy the products they promote because it feels like a recommendation from a friend.

The correlation between customer relatability and commercial success is also why there are enterprises that flourish when they are born out of a genuine passion rather than solely a desire to make money. These often-modest start-ups are built by people who were first looking for a service but couldn’t find it, and whose customer base consists of people just like them. It’s the type of organic success that appears effortless because the business owner knows their customer as they know themselves.

As a business owner, communicating that passion and personality is easier said than done. You might know your marketplace, but how can you get them to know you?

Photography is the most direct and instant method – allowing your customers to enter your world and make themselves at home. A picture really is worth a thousand words. And whilst stock photography might be a seductive solution – quick and convenient – it’s simply not as likable or relatable as commercial photography.

Having bespoke photographs taken of your business practices gives your customers a ‘day in the life’ insight into the people and personalities behind the logo. As well as humanizing your business and allowing customers to see who you are, it also communicates your unique message, skillset, and style directly. This is true whether it’s on the ‘about’ section of your website, in an advertisement, or through your latest Instagram post. For example, if you wanted to order a bunch of flowers from a florist, how much more compelling is it to see an image of the florist making up a stunning arrangement, as opposed to a generic bouquet from a catalog? It can be the difference between indecision and feeling confident to pick up the phone and pay upfront. Knowing as a consumer you’re getting something as appealing and authentic as you can see in the photograph can seal the deal.

When you’re setting up in business one of the first things you do is check out your competition. It’s good practice to get to know the opposition but it’s also instinctive human nature to compare and critique. Is your idea already being done? Can you do it better? Do you have a niche? It’s universally agreed that establishing a unique selling point is crucial. Unfortunately, so many companies then undermine this individuality by choosing generic images for their marketing. A quick online search using Google’s image search facility reveals a back catalog of everyone who’s using a particular photograph.

This is a useful tool for photographers like me, to ensure our work isn’t being published online without our permission! It also reveals who has downloaded their branded images from stock sites, and crucially, who they share it with. You could be a luxury women’s boutique that finds itself with the same primary promotional image as a building society. This might not be the impression you were hoping to give!

If you’re a small business owner, professional bespoke imagery gives your brand gravitas. A little like the saying ‘you should dress for the job you want, bespoke photography enables your company to put its best foot forward. You’ll no longer give the impression of a kitchen table start-up unless you want to of course. And if you’re an already big business, it lets people know you have substance and weight. Nothing helps inspire investment more than an end-of-year report illustrated with photographs of real team members working hard.

Hashtags like #shoplocal and #supportlocal have emerged to give the individual enterprise a boost, as well as keeping our high streets varied and unique. Personalized imagery is the next step in that movement to show the world why it’s money well spent with you.