header image illustrating article about when you need professional photography

Imagine if in just 2 short seconds you could start to build trust and authority with your customer…

For most of us, this is the key to more sales online. The truth is that with most people the 2-second shot clock starts the instant a visitor lands on your webpage. Understanding how to convert customers online was a key for me in going from zero to over 1.3 million dollars in online business in under 60 days.

Content Is King… Think Again!

You may have heard this statement before… people will tell you ‘content is king.’ The belief is that the content you create is the most important component in your brand. Before we take a look at this idea, let me share a statistic with you.

You have on average 2.2 seconds to make a good impression before someone leaves your website. Yes… just 2.2 seconds. Most people who visit a website decide if they will stay or leave immediately within 2.2 seconds. You might be thinking, “that doesn’t feel fair! I spent weeks building my website!”

When you land on a website that looks like it was built in 1995, what do you do? You leave! Why? Because you don’t trust it!

This is why content is not king; visuals are king! Because without visuals that command authority, your viewer won’t ever give your content the opportunity it deserves. The most significant visual component to your website and design are your photos.

Professional Photos To The Rescue

The easiest way to build trust and authority on your website is by using professional photos. This is true for your brand, a business, or a blog. In professional media, there are two types of photos that you could use – stock photos that you license and your own photos.

Stock Photography

Stock photography refers to professional photos that you license to use. Some stock photography is royalty free, meaning you don’t need to pay royalty fees or license fees for each use. Some royalty free stock photography is free, and others are paid.

Either way, be sure you look at the copyright and license agreement to determine if or how you can use the photography. For instance, do you have to give credit citation or link to the creator?

Note: the Gator Website Builder comes with an extensive library of stock photos that are free to use with your package.

I can tell you from experience that even the pricier options are worth it. Visuals are one of the most powerful pieces of the internet. If you’ve ever hired a photographer for professional headshots, a wedding, or an event, then you know how expensive and time-consuming photography can be.

Select the Perfect Stock Photo

An essential component of stock photography is understanding why you’re using it. Before you can select the perfect stock photo, you want to know and understand precisely why you need it. You can’t know what you need without understanding why.

One of the biggest keys to selecting the perfect stock photo for your website is having a goal in mind. The goal is to elicit an emotional response.

I have a strong background in songwriting, and I have found that understanding music has helped to show this aspect of human psychology. But you don’t want to write music. You’re here because you’re building a website. So why do you care?

When I have to write a song I have a lot of tools on the table to use. I have instruments to choose from, a tempo to pick, melody, rhythm, and lyrics. The end goal that I’ve found in music is to create an emotional response in the listener. The same purpose applies to business and sales. This is because all buyers buy with emotion.

If my goal in a song is to write something to make someone sad, I will write a slow tempo ballad with sad lyrics in a minor key. That is how I get that emotion, and those are the tools that I have.

But what about a website? What tools do I have to build the emotion?

  • Photos
  • Copywriting
  • Design/Layout
  • Videos

Photography is the easiest way to create an emotional response in your reader because a picture is truly worth 1,000 words.

Here are a few examples below of websites that I’ve built to show you how this works:

emotional photography shows feeling of a new home

This is the page that shows homes for sale. The image gives an emotional feeling of pride and love for the child running into the brand new big house as the parents walk up with the boxes moving in. The sun is shining, the child is excited, and the dad looks proud.

If I were to try to start the top of this page with copywriting to portray the same emotion, I would have to write out a long story about being proud of buying your first home for your family. Frankly, if you landed on the website and you were looking for houses to buy, you probably would never read it!

The photo tells you the entire story within seconds. If you are looking to buy a home for your family, this may trigger the emotional response. You might feel happy and proud just being on this page with the idea of even looking to purchase a home.

emotional photography shows focus on quality

Here is a stock photo of a person installing a solar panel system on a roof from a company’s website in New Jersey. The photo is professional, the lighting is beautiful, the sun is setting/rising behind him. With the center focus of the work, the headline and form sit perfectly on the website.

When you land on this page, it commands authority within 2.2 seconds. You know what this site is and you will be inclined to either fill out the form or explore the website more. If you were looking for a company that did solar maintenance, you wouldn’t leave.

But hypothetically, what if we just used a different photo and not a stock photo? How would that look?

example of personal stock photography to show angles that are not ideal

This would be if I used one of the client’s photos they took with an expensive camera from a job they were on. Is this a bad photo? No. Is it clear what the company does? Not at all. Is it a boring photo? Yes.

When you compare the two you can see that the difference between the website that impresses you vs confuses you, the only difference is the photo choice.

When To Not Use Stock Photography

Now that you know how to select the perfect stock photo for your site, let’s talk about when you don’t need a stock photo. This mainly applies to any time that you’re looking to build a personal brand instead of a corporate one.

Why wouldn’t you want to use a stock photo? The reason is that people start to become immune to stock photography. They are so used to seeing stock photos in advertisements and corporate websites, that sometimes it isn’t the right fit.

So what else can you use for your personal brand? The answer is professional photography and headshots custom to you.

The Keys To Great Photos

There are a few key elements to a good professional photo or headshot. Rather than give you a tutorial on things like lens aperture and different lighting styles, I will suggest that you get someone who knows photography to take them.

One of the keys to photos on a website is to understand the difference between a hero image for the home page and photos that showcase and build rapport.

Here are three examples of websites that build trust and authority with professionalism for personal brands.

stock photography that builds trust and authority

Blake Nubar builds sales funnels and showcases his 2 comma club award.
personally created stock photography shows emotion and personality of business owner

My website, Tom Camp Media, has a headshot with a grey background and a ring light to draw focus to the eyes.
personal stock photography emotes the feeling and lifestyle you want your customers to gain with your product

Kinect With Katina shares fitness and health tips. Her headshot is a ring light with a dark background as well.

When it comes to personal brands the easiest way to grab attention and build authority is a good quality photo of you. But your photos don’t always need to be serious… as a matter of fact, I recommend that they aren’t always serious once you get beyond the home page!

Quirky photos are memorable. Here are a few examples of photos that have a quirkiness to them:

Must love dogs.
Liz shares photos on her site that are goofy and she always has these ridiculous glasses in each photo.
The not so corporate headshot.

Are these photos that I would put on my business card? Most likely not, but they are memorable!

I would use these types of photos for other pages and not above the fold on the home page. The reason is that you want to build authority and then rapport, but this is a personal opinion.


Knowing when to use stock photography vs. professional headshot photos is entirely up to you, your audience, and the scenario. Understanding these methods have helped me immensely in creating sales pages that convert customers. I hope that this simple method helps you to make the right decision for your next website project.

profile photo of Tom Camp

Tom Camp is a digital marketer and best-selling author living abroad in Thailand. He’s gone from broke fitting room attendant to over 1.3 million dollars in online sales. Check out his website to learn more about how to level up your business and your life. www.tomcampmedia.com.

I aim to inspire others to go against the grain, challenge the status quo, and find alternative ways to get ahead in business and life. True freedom comes from the mindset of empowering yourself, your business, and those that you serve. I aim to work with others who have a similar belief so that we can help each other grow.”