A chat with Robert of krunch.co

When budget constraints make it so that a company has to resort to stock imagery, it often falls down to their digital marketing agency to come up with creative ways to ensure the [visual] storytelling remains genuine and powerful. In this post, Robert Moritz shares some of his thoughts on how to source authentic images when commissioning a bespoke photoshoot is not an option.

Some companies benefit from having a designated image budget that allows them to hire a photographer to get exactly the kind of picture they need. But for the vast majority of businesses out there who rely on visual storytelling, the most feasible option is to turn to online stock photo libraries. This comes with a price, however, as traditional databases are notorious for featuring images that impart anything but authenticity. And that is when the question comes up: How to ensure the content produced remains genuine and resonates with the intended audience?

“With some of our clients, we can do photoshoots, but for a lot of them, especially when we're doing activations and digital campaigns, there's not a budget for it,” says Robert Moritz, the Executive Creative Director at krunch.co, a digital marketing agency based in Auckland.“ It has been very difficult when we have had to use stock photography because they [traditional online libraries] tend to have images with more of a slick sort of commercial feel, which we really try to get away from. This is the challenge we face when we're not shooting ourselves.”

In the nearly seven years that krunch.co has been around, their team has grown from four to nearly thirty, and they have taken on clients the calibre of Hyundai New Zealand, Isuzu, Renault, BNZ, Fisher Funds, Hunter Homes NZ, and even Cisco in the USA. Even so, their focus remains the same: combining art and science to get the right message to the right person at the right place. Which, in their niche, invariably means finding the right photograph.

Claudelands Bridge, Hamilton by Lorraine Neill

However, the “right photograph” is not always around the corner, and given that a lot of their clients are proud, Kiwi-owned brands wishing to celebrate what is local, they have to be meticulous with what they display. “We focus a lot on Kiwi-centric storytelling, trying to get really authentic imagery that resonates with that foundation,” explains Robert. “The main thing is highlighting the little subtleties that make something – even subconsciously – Kiwi to the core.” And whilst that’s all well and good if you have hired a photographer, when budget constraints make it so that stock photography is their only option, the challenge becomes, as Robert himself put it, circumventing “that slick sort of commercial feel.”

This is not a challenge faced by krunch.co alone. Many agencies out there, when compelled to do without the bespoke photoshoot, ask themselves either Where or How to get the genuine kind of imagery they need. “Occasionally we've had to go the friends 'n' family route asking people to submit media they have, or doing very casual impromptu shoots with a very low overhead,” says Robert. “The problem, of course, is the level of quality you get. If it's for a social campaign with something that's supposed to feel very organic in the feed, that's one thing, but for anything beyond that it's tough.”

Man in eatery, Ponsonby, Auckland by Alan Blundell/Bokeh Street

Another route some agencies take is to crowdsource images, by organising competitions or putting out open calls, for instance. When asked about this alternative, Robert reflects: “I have never tried it, mainly because it has always seemed like it would be complicated and difficult to coordinate both on the front-end (finding people, briefing them, etc.) and back-end once the photos are taken. With all the admin involved if we were running it ourselves, it would be difficult for the juice to be worth the squeeze. If somebody could do all the legwork and make it happen, though, that's another thing entirely.”

Fortunately for agencies and their clients, there are platforms out there that have done the legwork. Excio has been compiling a database of fresh, high-quality, authentic photographs, whilst also providing image buyers with the option of making a specific request. And with the new PhotoToken concept, what was once a tricky decision regarding image budgets becomes a lot more straightforward and affordable - especially for smaller businesses who rely on [visual] storytelling but haven’t always the means to craft every piece of the narrative from scratch.

Still, as Robert emphasises, when it comes to the sourcing of images, the best course of action is always to guide your clients and devise a plan; which, in the case of krunch.co, translates to having a conversation with them and sussing what their needs are in order to deal with them accordingly. “We work very closely with our clients to see what resources there are to get the best images/videos for the specific campaigns,” explains Robert. “By putting the thought into it upfront we can usually find a way to generate a lot of outputs at a reasonable cost.”

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