Why custom eCommerce photography beats stock every time Comparing stock images to custom


If you’re a new business you might be questioning the importance of custom eCommerce photography. When it comes to your eCommerce site business expenses can pile up quickly and it might seem appealing to you to opt for stock photography over custom photography. Although it might be expedient for your budget, it will actually be a topical solution for your eCommerce site. Custom eCommerce photography will prove far more beneficial in the long term. 

We shouldn’t dismiss the power of images – humans are highly visual creatures! As we have learned to interact with the world using visual cues, our brains have evolved to absorb and react to visual information quickly. If someone clicks on your website and the images are not up to scratch, they won’t hesitate to click off the page instantly. 


Stock photography


Custom photography vs stock photography

When you’re thinking about stock vs custom photography for eCommerce business, it really is a no-brainer – custom photography all the way.

While the initial costs of a photographer might seem expensive, it is actually far better for you financially in the long term. Firstly, time is money – there are the hours wasted searching for a generic photo that vaguely aligns with your brand. Secondly, stock photos have a licensing fee which can actually be quite expensive depending on how you want to use the images. Also, there is a restriction on your creative expression as there can be limitations on how you use the images. 

By hiring a custom photographer you have free rein on how you want to express your brand. You have complete flexibility and freedom of creative expression when it comes to hiring a custom photographer. You can then integrate these unique images into your own customised library which is truly aligned with your creative vision as a brand. This also offers you more exclusivity as you can own and use these images in perpetuity. 



The advantages of custom photography are not only fiscal, but creative. Although the idea of quickly getting an appropriate image and sticking it on your website is attractive, you won’t stand out in the crowded market. When weighing up custom photography vs stock imagery, stock imagery is simply too broad in its scope. When you hire your own photographer, you and the photographer can collaborate to achieve original imagery with your ideal composition, lighting, texture, colour and tone – all of which a stock photo won’t deliver on.

When it comes down to it, do you want to share your vision, or someone else’s vision? Stock imagery is someone else’s vision. Photography is a medium of visual storytelling, and never underestimate the part emotions play in making a sale. By showing your brand personality and communicating your story through custom photography, you can really engage with your customers on a personal level. How can you rely on someone else’s photograph to tell your story?

It’s important to increase your value as a business by showing your personality and why you are unique. With custom eCommerce photography for your business, you can both express your brand and highlight the unique selling points of your products, rather than settling for a non-specific stock photo. 


A marketer’s perspective

Do you want photography that is merely serviceable, or special? With custom photography, you can exceed the expectations of your customers by creating images that truly aligned with you as a brand and showcase your products and services. When you conduct market research on your target demographic, you can then cater to your demographic with beautiful images tailored to them.

From a marketing viewpoint, a website with unimpressive images is a wasted opportunity. It is important to maximise your virtual real estate with attractive custom photography. Simply put, an uninspiring website results in a loss of potential sales. We cannot stress enough that while stock photos might seem more cost-effective, they will cost you eventually. 

Would you want people to describe your brand as just ‘good enough?’ Well, that’s what stock photos will communicate to your customers. Your photos are a reflection of your brand – custom photography will correlate to higher volume of sales and will generate more word-of-mouth referrals from your customers. From a marketing standpoint, the benefits of custom photography far outweigh the costs. 


Custom eCommerce photos


Forge a real connection

Custom photography for brands is invaluable as it allows brands to forge a real connection with their customers. By using custom photographs you give them an insight into the brand and allow the customer to feel connected to your business.

Remember, customers are intuitive – they know when something is genuine and when something is artificial. Don’t insult their intelligence by showing them stock photos that are meant to inspire trust in your company. Transparency is so important, and the key to this is custom photography. How can you create trust and reliability if you don’t show them your brand? Also if your brand values and marketing suggest themes like trust, reliability and authenticity, using stock photos will be antithetical to your message. That’s a big turn off to customers. Custom photography is the perfect solution as it creates full transparency for your brand.


Media attention

Custom photography for your eCommerce business is an excellent marketing tool. If your company gains traction and starts to get some media attention, you’re going to need to have some custom photos in your back pocket. If social media accounts, blogs, magazines, newspapers, or even TV want to promote your company on their platform they will need some good images to do so.  If you have stock photos, this is impossible, and you are unlikely to generate any buzz in the first place.


How to customise stock photos 

While we strongly recommend custom photography for your brand, we know that this may not be available to companies that are just starting out, so here are a few tips to keep you going until you can hire a photographer. 

    • Crop, rotate, and flip. When using Photoshop, or another editing software, you can use the adjustment tools to play around with the stock image and give it a more unique feel.
    • Add a text overlay. Using Photoshop or Canva you can overlay text onto the stock image to tailor the image to your brand. Using a certain font can be an effective way to personalise images. If you have your own digital graphics you could overlay this onto the image too.
    • Add a colour overlay. Using a colour overlay or a coloured filter can add a personal touch to a stock image. There are several options such as a dark overlay, a light overlay, a gradient colour, or perhaps a partial overlay.


We hope this eCommerce photography breakdown has given you an insight into the benefits of custom eCommerce photography vs stock imagery.

The key takeaway is that an initial spend on a custom photographer may feel like a lot, but you will reap the rewards in the long run. 


Contact Splento if you are in need of:

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