Why Apartment Websites Shouldn't Overuse Stock Photography

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Why Apartment Websites Shouldn’t Overuse Stock Photography

There’s something about stock photography that seems puzzling; perhaps it’s the vigorous staging or the cliché generic photo style. Travel to any apartment or property management website and do a Google reverse image search of a photo - you’ll probably notice that there are many websites using the exact same image.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using stock photography; however, there are some shortcomings. Standard stock photography may do a poor job at conveying a sense of community and home, which after all, is what most apartment websites strive for. The most commonly used stock photos on apartment websites tend to be of people attempting to showcase what it’s like to be a resident at that location. Unfortunately, they often seem over exaggerated not genuine.


Capturing candid and authentic resident photos may not always be easy; however, there often are some opportunities for apartment communities to do so, such as:


  • Resident events
  • Mass move-ins (for student housing primarily)
  • Holidays


When should original photography be used?


  • Main marketing materials (brochures, promotional signage, posters)
  • Website images
  • Online property advertisements


It’s always recommended to hire a professional photographer for community and property photos. For smaller projects, such as social media imagery, virtually anyone with a smartphone is capable of capturing high quality photos with little-to-no effort. Although it would be nice to have an Instagram feed curated by a professional photography, it’s not exactly within the budget for most apartment communities.


There are several valid arguments about why using stock photography for marketing purposes is ineffective:


  • Stock photography lacks authenticity. As author Buddy Scalera states, “Authenticity is like currency. Spend it wisely or it will be wasted.”
  • Stock photos are cliché and monotonous; therefore, don’t differentiate your apartment community from the competition.
  • Regardless of how professional a stock image may look, it will always be someone else’s vision and interpretation of the apartment community. A rental property cannot effectively convey their own vision or unique identity through someone else’s photography.

However, don’t entirely dismiss the value or purpose of stock photography, which still has its time and place in a broader marketing strategy. In the following circumstances, it would be acceptable to use stock photography:


  • Less significant materials (editorials, blogs or social media posts)
  • Mock-ups or rough drafts
  • Time constraints
  • Tight budgets


Original photography may have a higher upfront cost but it’s also a great investment. With shifting trends, real pictures are now on a pedestal. While stock photography isn’t going anywhere any time soon, apartment marketers should take as many opportunities as possible to capture original photography. The multifamily housing industry focuses on making people feel at home and comfortable; stock photography may not always accomplish this goal effectively.

SEE ALSO: Are Virtual Reality Tours The Next Big Thing In Student Housing?

The Places4Students.com Team

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