Stock vs Custom: When Does It Make Sense To Pay For Photography?

Redesigning your website or creative, such as brochure, social media post, etc. require some big decisions. One of the most valuable choices you need to determine is if you are going to use stock photography or pay for custom photography. Both types of photography have their benefits, and it can be a hard decision to make. This post will help you determine if stock or custom photography makes better sense for your business needs.

What’s The Difference?

Stock photography are images taken by people all around the world that are bought and sold for commercial use by stock photo databases. Custom photography involves hiring a photographer to take pictures of your business, products, spaces, employees, or services. Stock photography is usually a budget-friendly option, but you have more personalization and customization with custom photos.

Photography Affordability

The number one benefit of stock photography is that it is more affordable than a custom photograph. Stock photos are already created and available for use, but anyone can use stock photos. If your budget is on the lower end, stock photos are going to be your best option.

Custom photography is designed for a single client, and it can only be sold once. If your business has a higher budget, then having custom photos done might be a better option for you over stock photography.

Accessibility of Stock Photography

Stock photos are easily accessible on the internet. If you need to find photos quickly for your website or other marketing materials, all you have to do is find a popular stock photography website, and download your image. There is a wide range of photos and pricing options on these sites. If your time is limited, stock photography might be your better option.

Custom Photography Flexibility

Budget and accessibility are two significant factors between stock and custom photography, but keep in mind flexibility. When you are in stock photos, you have a limited library of photos that fit your criteria and budget. If you are looking for precise images that will represent your business or products, it can be hard to find the right fit in stock photography. With custom photos, you are getting photography aligned with your company and products.


Affordability is the most significant benefit of stock photography, but originality is the great benefit of custom photography. Custom photos provide your customers and viewers with content that is unique and specific to your company. When you are pulling content from stock photo sites, you are at risk of having the same photos on your website or marketing material as your competitors. If the culture of your business is a considerable part of your brand, then custom photography is the best choice to get the precision, accuracy, and originality of your company.

Final Thoughts

When deciding on stock vs. custom photography, it is critical to remember that custom photography is specifically tailored to your business, vision, goals, and customers. Custom photography goes a long way in helping you stand out against competition and communicate your message to your customers. However, if you are short on time and money, stock photos are an excellent short term fix till you can splurge on custom photography. There’s not the right decision, and both photography styles have their benefits, it comes down to what message you are trying to perceive to the public, and what is going to communicate to your audience the best.