People can quickly tell when something is fake. Why would you risk tainting your brand with labels such as cheap or generic by adding stock photography to your visual content?

It’s not about whether or not your brand has a pretty picture, though that is important. Building a brand means creating a strong surrounding of your brand image and the message you wish you convey.


When you need product images, customer action shots, unique designs and more for your branding, it is vital that you avoid using awful stock photos. You’re trying to build a customer’s trust in you and obvious stock photography is a huge turn-off. The key to landing sales is authenticity with your branding!

Reason #1 The perfect pictures versus “it works”

Taking the time to create an image that communicates what your business does is more efficient than a stock photo as you need to give your customers a taste of the real people they’ll work with. That smiling woman with the headset does your business no favors.

reason # 1

Reason #2 You don’t look emotionally real

A generic image of smiling people staring blindly into the distance will not bridge the connection between your brand and your customers. The photos need to look real to be believable to your customers.

reason #2

Research shows that regular photos receive a 2.35% click-through-rate while Instagram-style photos received CTRs as high as 8%. Sales mirror that effect with a conversion rate increase of 25% because of the unique content.

That says a lot about unique visuals, doesn’t it?

Read: How to Promote Local Business with Instagram

Reason #3 You’re not adding value to your website

Why would you risk distancing your small business from your customers by not showing them a detailed glimpse into your brand and products?



The main advantage of utilizing stock imagery is the time that it will save you. It’s far easier to skim your favorite photo site and pick out a relevant image, than it is to set up your own professional photo shoot, hire models, adjust the lighting, shop the photos, and so on and so forth.”
-Zack Rutherford, Freelance Copywriter LinkedIn | Twitter

Stock imagery will never be able to fully represent you, your services and products the way you want to. What’s worse, you’re losing a potential 10% of your audience if you’re distracting them with an image in the wrong place!

Reason #4 Stock photography can be bought by anyone

Your website is the ideal place to present and promote your services and yourself by using your own pictures. It works much better than the stock picture one.

reason #4

“If I need to use stock photography, I search to try to find the right one – great photograph, right style, right mode (landscape or portrait), and right mood.” – Kristen Schell, Web & Graphic Designer at Drive-In Autosound

With imagery that perfectly communicates what you are trying to say, your website’s branding will look unique with photography no one else has.

Reason #5 You’re showing that you like to cut corners

Picking a generic image could happen, but avoiding terrible cropping is a must if you want to connect with customers! An awful crop job will cheapen your brand and customers will click away from your website to find a competitor who looks more trustworthy. Unnatural cropping to fit website dimensions or on advertising is not only shameful, it’s lazy.

Reason #6 Using pictures that don’t relate to your content

There will come a time that the stock sites won’t provide the right image that you need to fit your brand. The image barely fits your business concept and brings no meaning to the content on your site. You’ll need to take a new photo to truly fit what you are trying to say.

“…if I let my clients choose, they’d pick images of businessmen shaking hands attractive women answering calls with a headset on, and a multicultural group smiling and laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing. ;-)” – Brian Dobler, Graphic Designer, Owner of The Printed Fish

Reason #7 Outdated or non-professional imagery is obvious

Not every stock photo is by a professional photographer and bad lighting or over-exposed shots are going to bring down the value of your brand. If the person in the imagery doesn’t look like they belong in this era, don’t choose that photo. Your brand will look out of touch with reality!

Businessman in wheat field with briefcase and balloons

Your visuals on your website and advertising are your brand identity; they play an essential role in turning potential customers into sales. If you’re unable to hire a professional photographer full-time, consider hiring a photography student or find a graphic designer to illustrate what you need instead.

When small business owners can’t afford to hire a photographer or a designer for their everyday marketing needs, they turn to stock photography.

Stock photography is accessible to everyone and has an image for every need available at your fingertips for a minimal fee. If business owners absolutely NEED to use stock photos, then choose from established providers such as Thinkstock, iStock, and others like them. These sites have thousands of quality images available so the chances of your photo are used by another website are less likely.

If you use stock photography, what website do you use?