When Is It Wrong to Use Stock Photos?

We all use stock photos. We do. You do.

  • It’s fast
  • It’s easy
  • And you can find great ones for cheap or even free

Then why is it wrong to use stock photography?

  • It’s fast
  • It’s easy
  • And everyone can find great ones for cheap or even free

…and that’s what’s wrong; the best stock photos are also the most frequently used.

This means the ‘perfect’ stock photo on the banner of your web page is the same photo that your competition is using.

We recently solved this problem for a client, who hired us to capture still images of his colleagues collaborating in the office.

He had run into issues using stock photos in his last campaign and he didn’t want to have the same issues with the new one.

  • Retain the rights (don’t have to worry about seeing these photos in a competitors campaign!).

and that would:

  • Accurately reflect his company’s culture.

The fact is, stock photos of people wearing pressed, grey suits with perfectly coiffed hair may not be true to your brand’s personality.

Yes, paying a professional will cost more than downloading free stock photography from the Internet. However:

  • You’ll get more photos than any free bundle, in which case it becomes less expensive.
  • They’ll reflect your imaging and color palette
  • They’ll be original to your brand and use case.
  • You’ll can retain all the rights to them*.
  • You’ll have a say in how the images are captured.
  • You can use them however, and wherever you’d like.

Are we suggesting you should forgo the use of stock photography all together?
No, there are plenty of great use cases (holiday cards), and even we use stock photography!

However, we never use stock photos to represent our equipment, staff or company activities, especially for social media.

When you are in a pinch and need an image for your next blog or social media post, then stock photos can be a great way to go.

In the meantime, start planning to capture a corporate activity that might be an ideal opportunity to gather images and hire a pro to get you the material you need.

  • Set aside one day once a quarter or twice a year and schedule a photo shoot.
  • Ask your colleagues if they’d mind participating and get a signed photo release.
  • Create a ‘shot sheet’ with your visual needs.
  • Review some portfolios and then hire a professional photographer.

If you need help you can always find us here. Good luck and happy snapping!

Erin Hayes

Erin's a producer, writer and content lover. She's worked with MediaBoss since 2008. In 2010, she quit her marketing and freelance writing jobs and came on to lead MediaBoss full-time.


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