Twenty years ago any agency worth its salt regarded ‘stock’ photography as a dirty word. Sadly, the passage of time, the tightening of budgets and the reduction in time frames has resulted in a level of acceptability that has seen libraries and their images proliferate across every area of marketing and communication. Even sadder, I believe, is the fact that creative solutions are too often shoe horned into existing images when original photography (illustration or video) could have given a client a unique and differentiating property.
There is though another side to this discussion. Twenty years ago image libraries were much smaller and the choice limited. They were also stuffed with kitsch American scenarios which bore little relationship to the European or global markets. Whilst much of that stock still resides in these libraries, the vast range now available includes far better choice in every respect.
Library images do play an important support role in helping bring some areas of communication to life where time and budgets are in short supply. But for lead brand communications, where differentiation is king, original creative photography remains our first choice. Having recently completed another successful and diverse advertising shoot for one of our clients, reminds me of how powerful original photography is.