Four Biotech Photo Styles: Which One is Right for Your Startup?

Every biotech website needs photos. Whether it’s team headshots, pics of your lab or 3D models of your science. But for most startups and early-growth biotechs and biopharmas, stock photos are the best choice because:

  • they’re already done
  • there are millions of images instantly available
  • they’re professional-grade

But did you know that there are different styles of stock photos?

This post introduces you to four popular biotech photo styles – each serves a unique purpose and helps convey a unique vibe. By understanding the differences between each style, you can make an informed decision about which style will best reflect your biotech’s personality.

Biotech Photo Style #1: Slice-of-Life

Personality: Idealists

Slice-of-Life style photos are what people think of when you mention “stock photos”.

Why is that? Well, they look a little bit too perfect. And for most folks that comes off as fake.

Nobody wants to come off as fake, so why would you ever intentionally pick Slice-of-Life photos? Well, the answer is that some people don’t perceive them as fake. Rather they see them as illustrating an ideal moment they aspire to.

Slice-of-Life stock photos help people envision hopeful, ideal outcomes.

You may think it’s silly to have a picture of a mother and daughter blowing on a dandelion at sunset, but if you’re developing a drug focused on improving lung function in young girls, it makes sense. This image – which looks fake to most people – may actually triggers a sense of hope in mothers of daughters suffering from lung disease.

biotech photo style girl blowing bubbles

Slice-of-life photos aren’t for every biotech or biopharma. They’re typically a great match for more mature biotechs and biopharmas that primarily see their role as improving patient lives. They illustrate the ideal outcome of their drug therapies – helping patients get their lives back and allowing them to focus on the important moments in life that they hope they can get back.

Sure, Slice-of-Life images are idealistic, but they’re nothing to be embarrassed about. If your biopharma’s primary purpose is to engender hope, healing or comfort, embrace Slice-of-Life images to carry the visual message for your brand.

Biotech Photo Style #2: Editorial

Personality: Realists

Whereas Slice-of-Life photos show an ideal world, editorial photos are all about keeping it real. Editorial style photos are like those we see in the news coverage or documentaries – they’re unposed and capture the world as it really is.

computational scientist at computer in biotech office

Some biotechs and biopharmas see themselves first and foremost as pioneering realists. They live and die by the truth in their data. By using editorial images, they intentionally choose images that reflect the “eyes-wide-open” courage it takes to tackle complex, life-threatening diseases.

However, using editorial images can have a downside. You need to be careful using editorial images as they can repulse some website visitors because they perceive them as too gritty or vivid. The goal of using editorial style photos is to establish your biotech as genuine, courageous and living in the real world, solving real problems for real people.

Biotech Photo Style #3: Conceptual

Personality: Deep Thinkers

Conceptual photos are sort of like visual poetry. They’re metaphors of what a biotech or biopharma aspires to become. They show abstract concepts like: teamwork or excellence (like the old Successories posters)

biotech stock photo of mountain climbers

For example, a biotech company may use a photo of mountain climbers summiting a snow-covered peak. The biotech doesn’t have anything to do with pitons, boots, or carabiners, but the images evoke the idea of rising to the challenge to find a cure.

nitrile glove petri dish concept

Another visual metaphor is a photo of someone wearing nitrile gloves, holding a petri dish with the mold forming a map of the world. This could express a scientific and global focus of a biopharma.

Conceptual images aren’t literal. They allude to core values and principles and make viewers take a second look and get a feeling what exactly drives a biotech or biopharma.

Biotech Photo Style #4: Abstract

Personality: Dreamers

3D models of cells or molecules are beautiful. And when you zoom into them, they overwhelm the viewer with their extraordinary power. They embody our universal fascination of the microscopic world.

And they’re entirely fabricated.

purple antibodies stock photo

Sure, you can use real microscopic images (btw, real images belong to Photo Style #2), but most of the time abstract images are created with software. And when zoomed in on, they start to blur the line between science and abstract art.

One of the most important objectives of a biopharmaceutical start up is to explain its science. Using a zoomed in image of juicy, vibrant cells immediately provokes a reaction. It shouts ‘Hey, Look at me! I’m science. And I’m beautiful. Learn more about me.”

So which biotechs should use abstract images? All of them! But the ones who use them most often are insightful and imaginative.

Which Style are You?

Are you a Realist? Or are you a Deep Thinker? Do you thrive on living your Ideals or stretching your Imagination?

The bottom line is every biotech startup is unique. Each one has a different personality and only you know which stock photo style is right for you. And now that you know the four popular biotech photo styles, you’ll understand why certain styles ‘feel’ more right than others.


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