5 Reasons to Re-Think that Stock Photo

As a Marketing Manager, I’ve spent hours perusing iStock.com, Dreamstime.com and all of the other stock photo libraries online for photos that capture just the right “image” for my clients. Sometimes stock photos are the perfect answer, however, many times they aren’t – especially when they feature people.

I will just come right out and say it – I hate stock photos.

Here’s why:

  • They’re impersonal. If you’re a small to mid-sized business with a relatively small staff, there is absolutely no reason that your website or marketing materials should have stock photo staff members. Come on! You can spot a stock photo a mile away, we know this isn’t your break room!


  • They’re fake. If you want to portray the type of company that brainstorms through doodles made with dry erase markers on the windows… then be that company! Don’t try and be the picture of something that doesn’t really capture the way your business runs. In fact, Dave, our Business Development Manager, does this all the time. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a half decent photo with some character that actually tells you about the personality of a business over a stale stock photo you can find in one Google Image search for “marketing.”


  • They aren’t relatable. People like to see people, and even more so we like to see people we recognize. If you’re going to portray a happy customer – why don’t you portray an actual happy customer?! I can bet that many of your customers would be happy to be the face of your next print campaign (if they are truly happy with your product or service), and people will respond much more positively if they recognize the person in your ad. Not only is it a conversation starter, “Hey, I saw you in that XYZ ad!” but it’s relatable to your audience.

happy customer

  • They can be a tad-bit corny. Need I say more? (This photo is titled “Happy Business People Having Fun” by the way).


  • They lack credibility. If your product is a teeth whitener and you pull a stock photo off the internet of a person with really white teeth – where is the credibility in that? Whatever it is that you as a business sell as a product or service is what is marketable – invest your money in a photographer and show your potential customers what YOU really produced.


And just for fun, here are some really, really ridiculous stock photos.

stock-photo-1560844-hippie-with-beerbelly stock-photo-11354678-girl-eating-spaghetti-with-hands stock-photo-15717230-lunatic stock-photo-18747661-man-startled-awake-by-intruder

What do you think about stock photos? Yay or nay?