A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Authentic Images


While stock images can be found in nearly any corner of the web, they are not always the best choice for every website. Although stock images are typically cheap or free and can be found anywhere on the internet, it’s often worth the time and effort to create your own authentic images in order to better brand your website.

One of the biggest mistakes many websites use is replacing photos of actual employees with stock photos of people who look vaguely similar to those who may work for the company. For example a stock photo of employees sitting behind computer desks is a common choice to replace an authentic photo of the office and staff themselves.

Most companies believe that these images do a ”good enough” job of conveying their brand,  however customers will know that these photos are not authentic, which can give them trust issues about the brand.

The key to using images the right way is to allow them to connect the viewer with the company on a personal level, which in turn builds trust and sets a positive tone for the relationship. Stock photos, particularly those of people, often fail to do this as effectively as authentic images.

It’s true that using stock photos can serve as a low-cost way to gather a large database of images for your website, however low-cost or free does not always mean that something is the best choice for the job. Free stock photography has a reputation for looking cheesy and manufactured, and are typically avoided by Professionals in almost every situation. Representing a brand with cheesy stock photography is not worth the small savings that might be had, as compared to creating authentic photos.

While creating authentic photos may sound like a long and tedious process,  there are ways that it can be done that make it far worth the extra investment:

  • Look for individuals and models who want to be photographed, instead of surprising your staff with a casual visit from the camera crew during the middle of their work day.
  • Use your products as a way to enhance your photos. Action shots are a must to build any brand, and those featuring the product in use are even better.
  • If you have the budget, invest in a professional photography crew in order to capture the highest quality authentic images for your brand.
  • Plan a visual story of your website in order to stay focused and set the overall tone of your brand.

Whether you choose to create your authentic images yourself, or you invest in a team of professional photographers to help you along the way, it’s important to remember your end goal: building your brand, and creating a connection with your customer.

While creating authentic images may be more time-consuming than browsing the web for royalty-free stock photography, it will pay off in the long run. Authentic photography feels far more professional than stock photography, and can more effectively tell your story with ease.

By working with the right team of employees, models, and photographers, you can un-stock your website, and begin building a better relationship with your customer.

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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