Are stock photos helping or hindering your business?

Stock photos: do you use them?

Images help bring your words to life. They convey a message and a tone quicker than text does. They can sometimes hit you right in the feels.

But sometimes, using the wrong images can hinder rather than help your business.

There is an art to using stock photos because, quite frankly, most are EXTREMELY obvious that they are stock photos and using stock images can have some unintended consequences.

Using stock images can have some unintended consequences

Here’s why:

1) They can make your business look generic 🤖

Stock photos can be reproduced millions of times, so it is likely that the photo you have chosen (especially if it is off one of the big stock sites) has been used by another business, your competitor, or your clients. As soon as someone recognises your photo as a stock image, you lose credibility and your ‘edge’, instead looking like another generic business.

A quick google search of 'Family blowing bubbles in field' found all of these examples of different brands using the same picture.

Now, to clarify no shade is being thrown on these brands – this image is beautiful, the lighting is lovely and it is a nice warm photo (but, if you know anyone working with them let them know I’d LOVE to help them with their marketing 😉).

On to my next point…

2) They send a specific message to your clients 🚧

Research into stock photography shows that when people see stock photos on a website, brochure, advert or anywhere else on company branding, they get the impression that the business is new, not fully established or doesn’t have a clear vision.

Stock photos are also extremely “white-washed” and do not display much diversity. Stock photos are often used to show who your clients are or what your workplace looks like, so if you are using stock photos regularly, the likelihood is that you are unconsciously excluding certain demographics by only portraying anglo-esque models.

3) They don't help you put your best foot forward 👠

Stock photos often look very unnatural and contrived. By using them not only are you risking blending into the crowd (as per Point 1 above) but you are missing an opportunity to show off what makes your business special or different.

Generic stock photos often will not be able to portray you business’s vision, values, ethos or culture.

If you are offering a bespoke, customised or tailored service or product, using a generic photo says the complete opposite.

Going back to my bubble/field example, how did that make you feel to see all those brands using the same image? Keep that feeling in mind when selecting your images. First impressions count, big time!


Now, don’t start purging your websites and shredding your current marketing, because all is not lost. Tackle it bit by bit and try to swap out your stock photos as you move forward.

Here are 3 tips on how to do that:

1) Take your own photos 📸 (Effort = 5, Reward = 5)

The most ideal way to fix your photo nightmares is to create your own photos; have a photographer, or a team member, take some new candid shots of your team and your customers for use in your marketing. It doesn’t have to be expensive and if done well they can be used over and over again. This is a lovely authentic approach that helps your clients better relate to you and your team.

However, if you cannot commit to that right now, there are other alternatives.

2) Work with what you've got 🛠️ (Effort = 3, Reward = 2)

Yes, I have just been broadcasting that stock photos can hinder your business. BUT, imagine this: what if your stock photos looked less “stocky”. Consider altering the image to change the look and feel.

Now, I know you can’t make it look like a whole new photo, but with some cropping, flipping, recolouring, etc, you can make it look just different enough that it won’t immediately appear in my 10 second Google search…

However, if you cannot commit to that right now, there are other alternatives.

3) Source more natural stock photos 🌱 (Effort = 1, Reward = 3 or 4)

If you have resigned to using stock photos rather than having new photos taken, that’s OK because there are some great places to find stock photos that aren’t ‘stocky’.

Look for photo stockists that use photos submitted by real people, these often contain photos of regular looking people in real situations. These are often more rough (ie. not as slick) but they look real and show a great amount of diversity.

AND, it is way less likely that you will select the same photo as your major competitor. Plus, a lot of these sites pay the photographer fairly for their photos. It’s a Win Win Win!

While it is not as good as having your own, authentic photos, with the right selection the result can be quite good.

Photo finish

Image: (with watermark… I just couldn’t bring myself to buy this stock image #StockImageFail!)


An alternative name for the above photo is “It’s now up to you”. And that’s right – it’s now up to you to decide what is the best fit for your business.

But, if that scares you a little, then feel free to pop me a message and we can help you with your decision and image revamp.

Whatever option you choose for your business, we can assist: editing current photos, having REAL photos taken of you or your team, or finding a great, real photo stockists.

I hope that you enjoyed it. If you have any questions – please get in touch!

Stay Crispy, xo Abi

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