Your Own Photos Vs. Stock Photos – Which Should You Use On Your Blog?
If you want visually attractive blog posts, you have to use images, usually photos. The right photos will enhance your blog post, make it more shareable on social media, and help you emphasize some of the points you make in your posts.
But it takes a lot of time to create visually appealing photographs and images. Stock photos sound so much easier. How do you decide when to use your own photos vs. stock photos?
Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times, not so much.
If you’re sharing a recipe, you should definitely create your own photos for it. Many readers will find it helpful to see parts of the process, not just the finished meal.
Take several photos as you make a recipe. You never know which ones will turn out well enough to use. You want to have a selection of them.
If you’re trusting a family member to take photos, make sure they understand what you need. I let my husband take some pictures of a cake I made, intending on a post for another site of mine. He only took two, and they’re both badly blurred. He didn’t take any time to make sure they had come out. I was busy with other things and didn’t find out until it was too late.
Similarly, any sort of how-to post with photos should have photos from the thing actually being done.
Photos showing the process will in part help show that yes, you really did this thing. They also help illustrate steps that may not be clear when written out. Some techniques are much better taught visually, perhaps even in video if it’s complicated.
When Are Stock Photos Okay?
Lots of people hate stock photos. I mean HATE them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable times to use them.
Stock photos are fine to use when they go well with the post. I use a lot of stock office or computer images, for example. My posts would be pretty dull if I used nothing but shots of my own office or computer. Stock photos give more range.
You can get a lot of stock photos for free, which is a huge advantage when you’re on a budget. Many bloggers do not want to spend money on photography.
Stock Photo Disadvantages
The huge disadvantage to stock photos, especially free ones, is that anyone can use them. You’ll probably see the same image on other sites, other pins, and other social media posts. Your use of that image won’t stand out unless you do something to make it stand out.
This makes branding more difficult. When an image is important to your brand identity, you probably do not want to use stock photography.
It also takes time to find the perfect stock photo. Sometimes you’ll go through a bunch of images before finally finding one that works for your post. If you know you can take the photo you need where you are already, it might be faster.
If you use Rights Managed stock photography, you have even more concerns to deal with. This is not something most bloggers will want to do, but you should be aware of this type of stock photography.
Advantages Of Your Own Photos
Using your own photos has its advantages. This goes beyond the simple need to use your own photos for certain kinds of posts. You may find it better to use your own photos even when stock photos are a possibility.
The most basic reason is that they’re yours. You won’t find the same photos in use all over the internet. That makes your site and social media posts more unique.
There’s also much less concern about legal issues. While you may have to be careful about how you use product photos or pictures of people on your site, you don’t have to worry that someone will say you stole their photo.
Disadvantages Of Your Own Photos
The problem with using your own photos is that it can take a lot of time to get just the right photograph. You will have to take quite a few pictures of anything you might want to use in your blog. Small differences in angle, lighting and so forth will make big differences in your final images.
You also have to handle your own editing when you take your own pictures. You may do this to some degree with stock photos as well, but if you get them from a good site, they should look pretty good already.
If you’re using a picture of a person, make sure they’re okay with it. This includes your kids. You may not need to go so far as a signed model release, but you shouldn’t post photos of people who don’t want their pictures shared, especially if it makes them look as though they’re endorsing something.
Make Sure You Keep It Legal
I prefer sites that offer Creative Commons Zero (CC0), as that gives the most freedom. You can get better photos on sites where you have to pay for the rights, but there will be a lot more restrictions as a general rule.
Use Stock Photos Creatively
If the stock photos you get allow you to make changes (another advantage of CC0!) and you have the ability, change them up! Put two or more stock photos together in an interesting way. It’s more work than simply using the photos, but will give you that unique result you’re looking for.
Your Own Photos Vs. Stock Photos – Which Do You Use?
When it comes to using your own photos vs. stock photos, which do you use? Why? I’d like to hear more opinions.