August 7, 2013

Stock or real photos for your new website?

When we’re building a new webiste, quite often, we have had clients ask us whether we reccomend using real photos on their website or stock photos which can be purchased from a website like  So, we decided to make a list of the pros and cons of using real photos on your website compared to stock ones.

Stock photos for website

Stock photos are readily available on websites like or These are images usually having been shot by professionals with the purpose of re-selling them royalty-free. The biggest stock photo sites have literally millions of images and there’s a good chance you’ll find something very close to what you’re looking for.

Advantgesof stock photos  – The biggest advantage here is the low cost and ready availability of images.  Photos usually start for just over a £1 each, with the price increasing with the size of the image.  This is significantly less than the cost of having the same images shot professionally, on your own.  And as pointed out earlier, you’ve got millions to choose from so finding the right image isnt usually a problem.

Disadvantage of stock photos – Stock photos are ofcourse, not unique and you shouldnt be too surprised if you find a stock image used on your website, on another one.  This is especially true for images which go viral, for example,  Another disadvantage is that if you require extra large images, the cost of these can be close to £50 in which case it may be less expensive to have bespoke images created for you.

Real photos

The word “real” refers to both, images you may already have such as your business premisses, people or assets or those that you commision to have created via a professional photographer.

Advantages of real photos – If you want your website to stand out, there is no subsitute for using real photos. When done correctly, not only can your images convey a lot more useful information to a user but they also inspire trust and confidence, resulting in better convesion levels.  And, of course,  there arent any limitations on the pictorial content as is with the case of stock photos.

Disadvantages of real photos – With a the average cost of a real image some 8 times higher than a stock image, cost is a big disadvantage here.  Then there’s also the lead times – booking, planning, processing time usually takes a few weeks, from start to finish. This isnt the ideal solution if are in a rush to have the images ready.

Another thing to point out here is that in some cases, real photos can almost become a necessaity. For example, in family run businesses, it’s a good idea to show your website users the people behind the business as it can increase the effectiveness of the advantages that users perceive of family run businesses.

By the way, the image we have used for this post, is a very good example of an image going viral. This image has been downloaded over 30, 000 times and I have seen it in various other places!

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About Shirish Agarwal

Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20 and looks after the PPC and SEO side of things. Shirish also regularly contributes to leading digital marketing publications such as Hubspot, SEMRush, Wordstream and Outbrain. Connect with him on LinkedIn.