An interview with David Sherry, Co-founder, Death to the Stock Photo

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David Sherry

Meet David Sherry – hobbyist photographer, entrepreneur, marketer, and co-founder of Death to the Stock Photo. (If you haven’t checked out these free photos, you really must.)

We were psyched to get some time with David to talk about his perspective on visual content. While he’s always been interested in design and aesthetics, his college education didn’t focus there. Originally, he studied economics at The Ohio State University. As a member of the Business Builders Club, he was exposed to other entrepreneurial-minded people who showed him that he could make money, even at a young age, from a good idea. 

After a string of failed ideas, David spearheaded a social entrepreneurs event aimed at using social media to eliminate poverty. That interest in media prevailed and when he graduated, David worked as a freelancer for startup companies that needed marketing help. Six months later, he met his business partner, Allie, through her blog and in July 2013 they launched the idea of Death to the Stock Photo. 

Death To The Stock Photo

Death to the Stock Photo is a great name. Why did you and your partner start this company?
We knew Death to the Stock Photo was a strong statement. It positioned us in a way that people would know who we are right away and they could easily understand what we stand for. We wanted to give people something clear to align with. Of course we didn’t literally want to kill stock photography – that’s our business – we wanted to provide a different perspective on what stock photos are and how they can be used. 

Social media is so visual – how do you keep up across Pinterest, Twitter and everything else to stay visual and real? We started by sending images to our peers and said, “we’re hobbyists photographers and we’d like you to be able to make use of some really good photos for your marketing.” Rather than some of the images that are out there and not very good quality. Then we went from there. 

Explain what an authentic experience means to you…
Our photo content is from a real scenario with a real story behind it. The images feel in the moment because they are. They’re not contrived or forced. One example – instead of staging instruments for a photo shoot, we rented a bar and had an actual band play for all of our friends one night. We shared the story about the real event and included images from the performance. We also included a sample of the music from the band for those people who couldn’t be there, so they could still feel the experience. 

How is the content you're creating and sharing at Death to the Stock Photo helping to deliver an authentic experience?
Real life scenes are more authentic than other stock house imagery. The road trips we share are real for our subscribers because we give them a way to experience it with us.

We think it comes through in the imagery - that it’s real and not fabricated.

DTTSP Objects Books on the floor


What kind of connection is inspired through a photographic visual experience? 
Photos, compared to illustrations, can evoke a different emotional connection with the brand. You can get nostalgic and really hit at the emotion behind something. 

How is a photographic image different from other visuals like an infographic created using vector art?
I think illustrations are great for learning experiences. Vector art is more conducive to learning. Sites like Headspace make great use of icons to show the steps you should go through in order to do something (in this case, achieve mindful meditation). But there are some companies that do a great job with illustration to get at emotion.

How do you add more photos to your stock collection?
A lot of the images come from how we’re feeling and from feedback we get from customers. We review the content we have so far and ask, what other holes can we fill?

We also have a funded photographer project. We take a percentage of our premium subscriptions and fund those trips. Then those amateur photographers share their stories and photos with us. And we share them out to our user community.

What advice do you have for others who use – or want to use – visual content to share an authentic experience?
As the photographer, you want to have some planned ideas. Just enough structure and intention to get the job done, but not too much that it feels forced. Be realistic, capture what’s there instead of trying to make something that’s not there.

To the photographer, I’d say that today there are more opportunities than ever. There are so many brands that need quality imagery. It’s a great way to break into the industry. Think about what little thing you can add to make the shot a little more real. Whatever you produce, let it feel natural. 

To the content creator, I’d say you should think about more ways to build the story. For example, that band I mentioned and how we added the link to their music in the email. We didn’t have to do that, but it was one more small connection to complete the story. It was real and meaningful instead of stale.

Listen to David Sherry talk about The Power of Authenticity
OR, follow David on Twitter @DavidSherry36

And to learn more about how Digital Asset Management helps you connect your marketing and visual content, contact Widen’s DAM advisors.

Topics: Culture & Company

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