Smiling Models vs. Genuine Happiness: The Importance of Custom Photography

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so when marketing your institution, make sure each of those words count.

All too often, designers resort to stock photography to market a product — these generic photos can be found littered through websites and brochures. While stock photography is more easily accessible, custom photos are far more impressionable with your audience.

Millennials, especially, want to feel engaged with what they’re reading or viewing. Because of all the marketing they encounter on a daily basis, they have learned to tell the difference between smiling models and genuine happiness. When a millennial sees real images, they’re able to connect on an emotional level with the school.

A study by the marketing company, Market Experiments, showed that it’s possible for real photography to yield a 35 percent increase in conversion over stock photography. The same study found that the three most important factors for effective photos are relation, relevance and reality. Even if a stock photo covers the first two factors, it can’t address the reality factor as well as a real photograph. Those real photos are able to evoke an emotional connection much faster than stock photography.

As a designer, I would be lost without stock photography. But, there is much more value in using custom images of your institution. Instead of taking the easy road and downloading generic images to represent your school, make an effort to truly capture the campus in all its glory — its excitement, its people, its uniqueness. This is your time to shine!

Potential students are being bombarded with marketing from colleges and universities around the country. Custom imagery helps make sure your institution stands out by showing them what makes you special.

That’s something that a stock photo can never do.

By Sara Ekart, Creative Director, Capture Higher Ed