It’s not a difficult concept: a group of small business owners who need high-quality stock images for their websites and promotional materials come together to help each other get the shots they require and to share the combined total of their effort.

But the concept hasn’t been as easy to sell as its creator thought it would be. Charlotte Mannion, founder of Mistock, says that at first small businesses think there must be a snag as traditionally photographers have charged businesses an enormous amount of money or have taken the shots for free with the client buying shots at quite high rates.

‘Having lots of different shots to draw on at a low cost is just a new idea,’ she says.

I went along to a recent Mistock photo session to see how it works. Participants arrive with a wish list of shots they require and various changes of clothes.

The professional photographer, Matt Miller, worked through the list of images, showing the images he takes as he goes. This approach goes down really well with participants. They discuss shots and make alterations so they get a good sense of what they will get from the day.

Rachel Demlar runs a coaching business and is about to relaunch her website.  ‘Stock shots don’t really do it,’ she says. ‘I am my own brand so need ways to model on my website what I do and show people who I am in those situations – that’s what I was looking for today.’

‘Today has been brilliant and exceeded my expectations, it has been so relaxed and some of the shots I have already seen have been just perfect – they absolutely showcase what I do.’

An unexpected benefit of the day is the chance to network with peers and also to help each other out.

Andy Roberts, who runs masterfaciltator.com, said: ‘It has been really easy, with a good set of people and the cameraman has been easy to work with. It has been fun and also good to share experiences with people who do similar things to  me.’

John Bowen, who runs business consultancy Gulfhaven Ltd, liked the collaborative approach. ‘I wanted to come today to get some good images for my website and for promotional material and to help out others by doing the same for them. It has been good fun, I’ve met some interesting people and got some fantastic photos.’

Charlotte says photographs are a good way for small businesses to show their clients who they are, what they can do and to help build trust in them.

Judging by the feedback, the concept is working and after only its second event has one happy repeat customer.

Andy Entwhistle, who runs Salient Sales and Training, was so happy with his first set of images he had come back for more. ‘I was so delighted with my first set of images that I am back for a second lot.’