Step away from the stock photography

Originally published on

It’s no secret that images sell. A great photo can make your marketing piece and a vivid website image will draw in visitors. On the flip side, bad graphics can have a negative effect on your brand and corporate-y, generic, stock photos aren’t helping you either.

An iStock search for “household budget” photos brings up more than a thousand results. Photos of a calculator on top of a piece of paper with “Budget” written at the top. Photos of a couple in front of a laptop. Images of receipts, check book and credit cards. Photos that have been used again, and again, and again.

Be creative and use your own photos to spice your website, marketing materials, and social media posts.

“Financial” materials.
Need a stack of credit cards? A wad of bills? A calculator and a mortgage-type looking document? Coins in a jar marked “Retirement”? You have all those…just use your own items. The photo below is money I poured out from one of my boys’ piggy banks. It has an Instagram filter on it.

dollars and coins

Use kids’ items…like toys.
For real. Writing a piece about a data breach? Take a close up photo of a Lego minifigure “criminal.” A post about saving could include the letters “SAVE” spelled out in alphabet blocks (I used GIVE). I have used those items, plus puzzles, crayons, books, board game pieces and a whole slew of other items for a graphic I didn’t have to pay for.

blocks, give

Get outside.
Take photos in your own city. This is probably the easiest way to localize your images. Shoot local landmarks, streets in your neighborhood, parks, buildings, flags, landscapes, etc. This is a great way to build your very own photo gallery. Don’t forget about your holiday themed campaigns. Snap fall photos to use next year, or St. Patrick’s Day parade to use next time. This photo was taken at an old farm in Medicine Lodge, KS.

Kansas farm
Use your own members and staff.

Why buy a photo of a smiling unknown teller, with their white teeth and perfect hair when you can take a photo of your very own smiling teller with their white teeth and perfect hair? And for goodness sake…use your own members in your marketing materials! People love to see people they actually know promoting local products and services. It gives you more credibility and can increase your membership base.

OK, this isn’t an employee, but you catch the drift, right? This was taken on my front porch.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer.
If money is tight, chances are you have a great device for capturing photos right in your back pocket. I take many photos with my iPhone using natural light. If you are outside, it’s possible the light will be fine (unless it’s a super sunny day, then it may be a little harsh). If you are inside, try to take the photo by a big window with nice light. Taking photos of people can be tricky.

If you are not confident in your skills, maybe on one of your members is a photographer and would give you a good deal on some photos. I

f not, suck it up and hire a professional. You’ll be glad you did. I’m not saying eliminate stock photos entirely. There’s a time and a place for them. If you can, start using your own photos, which will help you stand out with creative and fun graphics, unique to your credit union.

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