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Emma Lawton

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HOW TO DITCH GENERIC SHOTS ON A BUDGET

In the run up to Content Campus we are getting in touch with the best content creators to deliver great content to you. If you want to know more tips like that about content creation, be sure to join us for this year Content | Campus on the 30th & 31st of March in Copenhagen!

It’s a topic every photographer winces at, that sends design teams into a panic and once made a very polite Creative Director I worked with swear in a meeting. The dreaded ‘S’ word. Stock photography. They’re often a marketing team’s go-to when it comes to imagery because they’re low cost, easy to search for and instant. But this immediacy means they can become overused and their low cost often leads to poor quality of shot or cliché, uncreative subject matter. Potential customers are becoming wise to stock photography through their continued exposure to it and its ridicule by the media. Original photography that is unique to you can make your content more shareable and boost your brand perception.

But original photography by a professional can be expensive and when budgets are tight it’s often the thing that slips into the ‘to be done internally’ column of the spreadsheet. And that’s when you reach for your stock photo account logins because you know the quality will be better than if you took some photos yourself.

There are other options though. Here are 5 ways to achieve stock photo free zen with minimal budget:

BORROW FROM YOUR CUSTOMER

User Generated Content is all the rage due to its authenticity and personality. But it’s usually not reliable as a continuous source because you can’t guarantee a regular flow of appropriate imagery. Why not try running competitions every 6 months which can boost your photo library with new images. Set a subject (for example ‘My view of London’) and encourage the public to submit their photos with a prize for the best photo. Stipulate in the competition that any photos submitted will become yours to use as you wish and this will really build up your library over time.

LINK UP WITH INFLUENCERS

If you want to try using UGC but want to ensure consistent quality levels and styles why not partner with a creative influencer. If they’re regularly creating their own imagery for Instagram then they’ll probably have better equipment and a good eye for what makes a good photograph. They’ll have already developed their own style so find one that’s already shooting content with the look you’d like to use for your brand. You will need to pay them to create the imagery but influencers charge different rates depending on their prominence so you might be able to find someone who can offer you a good price.

WORK WITH THE NEXT GENERATION

A photographer will always be the best person to build your library and when the professionals are too expensive it’s time to seek out a talented student. Photography students will have all the knowledge and creativity but will have a lower hourly rate. Contact your local college to find someone who can work with you.

FIND A DIFFERENT ANGLE

If your budget is 0 then you may need to grab your camera and take some snaps yourselves. Find the most creative people in your business and set them challenges to shoot photography that breaks the usual guidelines. Try these creativity boosting ideas:

• shoot from a different angle – get low or high, look under and over or through objects • look for particular shapes – try to hunt out the same shape in your surroundings, in items that you see around you, or create them from found objects
• use lenses - change the focus of your shot by playing with fish-eye, wide angle and macro lenses
• experiment with colour – try gel filters in front of the lens or apply filters in post production to standardise the look of your images
• find the humour – think outside of the ordinary and capture the whimsical, the fun and the humorous. Find oxymorons and antithesis to your usual subject matter
• use different cameras – try polaroids, old cameras, go pros, anything you can get your hands on.

Assemble all your experimental shots and choose the style that feels most appropriate to your audience and your brand and then begin to build a self-shot library in this style. If you always shoot in this style then your photography will feel cohesive and on-brand.

AND IF YOU MUST USE STOCK

Use sites like unsplash.com that features curated collections of free, beautiful, un- cheesy photography that (only in an absolute design emergency) can be used to support your content.

If you would like Emma to help you, then get in touch with her at emma@thinkdigital.travel, or give the #DTTT expert team a call (+44 20 7193 1003) to see how we can help.

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