The Power of Authentic Images

Over the last few years, there’s been an expansion of free, high quality, stock image websites — sites like Pexel, Unsplash, Gratisography. For companies (for profit or not-for-profit) with limited resources, utilizing images from these sites seems like the easiest, least resource-draining avenue. And while there are some gorgeous stock photos, they aren’t authentic, and there is power to authentic imagery.

Telling your story is at the heart of expanding your company’s impact, increasing visibility, and raising revenue. All of the data shows that on digital forums — whether it’s social media, websites, or email marketing — images and videos are critical. On average, video posts on Facebook get at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types. Companies need to invest in a library of image and video content that is unique to their organization

Strong videos and powerful photographs compel people to actually do something — donate, share, subscribe, etc. There is a beautiful ability to use image and video to transport someone to the heart of where your story begins. Stock photos simply cannot do that.

Two quick examples:

Take an education nonprofit. They want to tell the story of a client who is excelling in school thanks to tutoring support. If you head over to a stock photo website, you may search for “girl in school” or “teacher and student”. You’ll amass a reasonable collection of photos of children in a school setting, perhaps some photos that don’t show a face but instead just hands and paper and crayons. These will work, but they aren’t genuine. They aren’t your company’s client, and there is an inauthenticity to using those photos. It’s even harder when you look to video.

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A new pizza restaurant: A small business trying to get a website and social channels up and running may not have the depth of imagery necessary to begin. So they turn to stock image sites. Sure, what’s found ‘works’ to fill voids, but is it authentic? Does it tell your story?

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No matter who you are, where you’re at, or what size your organization is, take a moment to assess your multimedia library. Do you have images and videos authentic to you that tell your story? Have your programs pivoted and you need a refresh? Did you update the design of your business, change your personal look, revise your menu, etc., and so the photos are no longer authentic to who you are or what you do today?

While it may not seem like a logical place to put your first dollars spent or your limited funds raised, I promise it is. Capturing authentic images and video will let you share your story through high-quality visuals. Producing collateral will be easier because the library will exist. You’ll have the right images to send out with an opening day press release. Your email marketing will generate clicks because the photo will capture the reader’s attention. Social media followers will begin to know you, to feel connected to your work because you’re using images unique to you.

A competent communications professional, photographer, or videographer understands the art and beauty of storytelling. They will have the skills necessary to help create a resource library of multimedia content that is authentic to your work. Give yourself permission to allocate resources to capturing video and images that will transport someone into your story.

Photo of farmer courtesy of Glenn Charles Photography