Adventures in stock photos – Finale: Love and gratitude

On President’s Day 2019, as I was heading home from keynoting the all-employee celebration for KALSEE Credit Union in Michigan, I jotted down two simple questions: “How many members and employees actually appear in photos on CU websites? Does it matter?”

Those 15 words launched a year-long journey of discovery called the Credit Union Photography Project, arguably the largest research effort of its kind in the history of our movement.

CUPP united a small group of volunteers from across our industry who were so motivated to find the answers that they sacrificed their free time to classify 54,597 photographs on 1,596 credit union websites:

They are the real heroes of CUPP.  I can’t thank them enough for making it possible.

CUPP was encouraged and guided by Amanda Elkins, Liz Garster, and Tara Kochansky of TwoScore, and James Robert Lay of Digital Growth Institute.

Andrea Dose and Jodi Allen (Iowa Credit Union League), Eileen Burden (Kentucky Credit Union League), and Jose Ortiz (Ohio Credit Union League) graciously let me share some of the early CUPP research findings during my sessions for their respective conferences.

In a few short hours, CUNA’s Kristin Ryan assembled a master list of all US credit unions – complete with asset sizes, location, and website – into a 33,780-cell file so perfect that it should be in the Spreadsheet Hall of Fame (totally not a thing but should be). Her belief in the goals of the project saved it from languishing in a forgotten page of an old Moleskine notebook. Thank you, my friend, for your servant’s heart.

Robbie Young of CUInsight patiently accommodated my requests to use photos from my library for my articles, which probably put me in CUInsight’s High-Maintenance Community Writer Hall of Fame (totally not a thing but should be).

Finally, I’m grateful to all of you who made the first piece in this stock photo series one of CUInsight’s Top 10 Marketing Posts in 2019.

That story had blunt answers to the first question I posed: 70% of all photos on the credit union websites studied were stock, nearly 84% of those sites don’t have a single image of an actual member, and real employees appear in barely 12% of photos.

Does it matter? Yes. Some agree. Others don’t. Both perspectives are defended by compelling arguments.

For me, it comes down to one final question: what do we love more – our members, or their money?

In our photos, we’ll find our answer.

Andy Janning

Andy Janning

Andy Janning is the author of the books Heroes, Villains, and Drunk Old Men and The Breast Cancer Portrait Project, an 8-time state and national award winner for overall excellence ... Web: Details