Blog Feature

The Difference Between Stock Photos & Crowdsourced Photos

Adrian Dubler

Adrian Dubler January 9th, 2018 Photography

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When you are marketing and branding your business, photographs are essential. An image catches the attention of a potential customer or client, explains who your business is, and tells what you have to offer, all in a matter of seconds. This gives your customer far more information about your business and brand identity in far less time than an article or press release does. But when it comes to photos, you have a few different options. Stock photos and crowdsourced photos are currently two of the top options for businesses. Here is a bit more information about these options.

What Are Stock Photos?

Stock photos are photographs that anyone can license for creative use. There are three different types of stock photography. This includes royalty-free, rights managed, and public domain stock photographs. Here is a bit more information about each type of stock photography.

Royalty-Free

When you purchase royalty-free photographs, you pay a one-time fee to use the photograph however many times and ways you wish to use it. You can then use the photograph in any way that the terms and conditions allow, typically with far fewer restrictions and rules than rights managed photographs.

Rights Managed

When you purchase a rights managed photograph, you pay based on how you plan on using the photograph. If you want to use it on your website, you may pay one fee. If you want to use it on marketing mailers, you pay another fee. The fees vary based on how you use the picture, where it is used, and how many times you plan on using it.

Public Domain

A public domain photograph means that the license or copyright for the photograph has expired or never existed. As such, anyone can use the photograph in any way they see fit.

Stock photographs are typically used for marketing, advertising, promotional work, personal or commercial creative projects, publishing, websites, and blogs.


Do your customers and prospects see your company as authentic and honest? Learn how to create your visual brand identity with our infographic.

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What Are Crowdsourced Photos?

Crowdsourced photos are photographs that are taken specifically for your business. They feature your business or your product in them. However, these photographs are not necessarily taken by professional photographers working just on your campaign. They are often taken by your consumer, client, or freelance photographers vying for their work to be seen. These images may then be shared with your company, as well as the individual's friends, family, and co-workers, via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or numerous other social media sites.

Just like with stock photos, crowdsourced photos are typically used for marketing, advertising, promotional work, personal or commercial creative projects, publishing, websites, and blogs.

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How Are Stock and Crowdsourced Photos Different?

While stock and crowdsourced photographs are often used for the same purpose, they are very different. Here are some of the key differences between stock and crowdsourced photographs.

Originality

One of the biggest differences between stock photos and crowdsourced photos is originality. Stock photos are not original, while crowdsourced images are. In addition to this, multiple people can use stock photos. As a business, you may have no idea what other companies have or may use the same stock photographs you are thinking about using. This can create a problem with brand identity in the future. Your customers may recognize the image from another marketing campaign and associate it with the other business, not yours. This isn't an issue with original crowdsourced photos.

Customization

Another difference between the these types of photographs is the ability to customize the picture. When you select stock photos, the image you select is the image you get. You cannot change it or customize it to fit your business needs. With crowdsourced images, you can ask your customers or photographers to take specific photos for your business, helping to customize what you receive. This helps you to have better control over your brand and brand identity.

Authenticity

Crowdsourced photos are authentic photographs of your business or product. Stock photographs are not. They are very cliche and generic photos. Think about it this way: if you use a stock photograph of a hamburger, customers are seeing that you sell or serve hamburgers. But that picture you offered up is not a picture of an actual hamburger offered by your business. Customers may be disappointed when they see your burgers look nothing like the photo you posted on your website or sent in a mailer. But when you use crowdsourced photographs, the image you will receive to use for your marketing campaigns will be that of a hamburger actually served at one of your businesses. Customers love the authenticity associated with crowdsourced photos, which is why this option is becoming more popular with consumers.

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Speed

When you are putting together a marketing campaign, you may want your pictures as quickly as possible. Stock photography gives you fast access to a lot of pictures that you can use right away. Crowdsourced images are not that quick to get your hands on. It can take some time. However, if you use the right crowdsourced photo company, such as FOAP, you can have your images in as little as two short weeks.

Cost

The last major difference between stock and crowdsourced images is their cost. Stock photography is often cheaper to use and obtain than crowdsourced images. However, the cost of the photographs themselves should not be your deciding factor between the two. Brands and companies that pay for and invest in crowdsourced images see a better return on investment in the long run compared to those who simply purchase stock images. As such, stock photos may be cheaper, but crowdsourced images may help you to make more money.

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Final Thoughts

Photographs play a key role in marketing and promoting your business, as well as establishing an identity and brand for your business. Both stock photos and crowdsourced photos are options you may be considering using for your business photography needs. When you want to be unique and different, and want your photos to speak solely about your brand, crowdsourced photographs are a great option. If you are looking to learn more about how crowdsourced photos can help build and improve your visual brand identity, download our infographic, "The Who, What and How of Visual Brand Identity."

The-Who-What-and-How-of-Creating-a-Visual-Brand-Identity