We may be hitting *slight* fatigue in hearing how COVID has affected industries and lives. Some effects of the pandemic are still interesting to consider, especially as to how they might continue to impact future trends. Photography in design being no exception, post-pandemic designs are now starting to favor illustration a bit more. Lockdowns and mask mandates weren’t kind to on-site photographers, after all. And, how many times can we recycle the same stock photo imagery? Will illustration make a full blown comeback? Or will we see photography surge again as things “go back to normal?”
This month, we’re going to take a deep dive into some of the perks, benefits, and differences of photography vs. illustration, and how they might inform some of your design opportunities.
Proficiency vs. personality
Unless you’re paying someone to produce photos specific to your company or product, you’re likely going to use stock photography. This is cost and time efficient, and these image types have been tried-and-tested successfully in many marketing applications. Stock photos portray professionalism and a competence for you in your industry. Illustration, however, gives an opportunity for you to showcase your company’s style and personality. It’s unique, fresh, and totally customizable. This is especially important when you’re storytelling your brand. If you have the budget, work closely with an illustrator willing to capture the exact sentiments you’re trying to convey.
Practical vs. imaginative appeal
Photography captures a scene. Illustrations add depth. A photo provides context in and of itself, but an illustration invokes emotional appeal. The food and beverage industry is supersaturated in content and design, which means your company’s capture game must be on point. Photography is a rock-solid strategy to communicate your brand in a not-up-for-interpretation kind of way. Many times, this is 100% appropriate. But, as we’re witnessing many industries shift their narratives in line with personal activisms and ideologies, your content may want to call upon your customer’s emotional intelligences, too. Illustrations tap the imagination, moving from realism and practicalities to larger-than-life conceptualizations.
Branding shapes the world because consumers buy from their own personal passions and ideals (now more than ever before). It’s your job to speak to those ideals – meaning – every piece of content you deliver to market needs to make as big of an impact on the intended viewer as possible. Photography can turn heads in product marketing (especially if you can make something plant-based or vegan look particularly mouth-watering), but illustration can give you a cleaner portrayal of “the point” with a more straightforward visual composition. Therefore, what you need to say will determine how you say it.
As with all forms of marketing and content generation, usage determines approach. Photography and illustration are very different mediums with very specific experiences tied to their presentation. Knowing which to use can depend on a number of factors such as cost, quality, and the personality of the piece you’re communicating to your audiences.
Need help figuring out whether photography or illustration is better suited to your needs? I’m happy to point-and-shoot out some options, and help you draw on some fantastic ideas.