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The Pitfalls of Stock Photography

As an agency, we often use stock photography. Not every client has the budget, time, or desire to have professional photos done of their business, products, services, and employees.

That said, if it is possible to have real photos done of the business, you should. Real photos can create a very genuine and authentic connection with your audience, whether it’s on your website, email marketing, or printed materials. The more honest-to-goodness experience we can create for our audience, the more effective the results. I recently came across an example of how stock photography can cause a business to look generic.

There is a great-looking new restaurant coming to Raleigh. As a lover of food, I went to their website to check them out. Their website looks good and their food looks fantastic. Here is the home page of their website.


The main image of the website is a large, decent-enough looking photo of really good-looking people having a good time. Again, it does not look bad, but when looking at the website I didn’t see anything special or unique about it.

Several days later, I drove past a large construction site for a new residential building literally half a mile from this new restaurant. While at a stoplight, I turned to my left and saw this large-format advertisement for the new properties.


Look familiar? Maybe I am the only person who notices these things, but when it comes to your marketing materials, it’s best to have your agency take photos or hire a photographer whenever possible to create an authentic, yet professional, look for your business.

Don’t have the budget? Two tips:

  • Take the photographs yourself. Any quality agency can manipulate the photos to look much better.
  • Or, if you use stock photographs, your marketing agency can alter those to separate them from the crowd.

Either way, you’re going to end up with something personalized — and it won’t cause someone like me to do a double-take.