Why to Not Use Stock Photography. And When You Should Consider Using It.

March 23, 2017 4:38 pm

(Above: These are real flowers from our yard.)


When you hear the word “stock” what do you think? Being from this area, I think of lumber, soup and a pile of things that are not unique. The main problems we’ve encountered with stock photos:

  • The photos have some of the things you want. The images are so close to conveying the emotion, experience or idea that you want, but not quite. And chopping off the person or thing at the edge or in the middle isn’t always possible without throwing the balance off of the photo.
  • Stock photography looks weird. Hold on. I know you can point me to a bunch of really breathtaking photos. What isn’t always the case, is that the photo will fit into your application. You need a square and it’s a really wide rectangle. You need the photo to be colored/processed differently so it fits with the rest of your content. Sometimes the mountain photo you’re using looks like a mountain photo you just saw yesterday on your competitions site. Awkward.
  • That’s not You! If you can find your doppelgänger in look, feel, aura and idea, expressed exactly right in a stock photo, GREAT! You went through all the effort to find it and somehow you were somewhere else. What’s more likely is that you see it’s not you, it’s not your idea, it wasn’t up to your standards.


  • Kicking and screaming, we’ll relent. If you do need a mountain shot, and the only thing that will do is a specific one halfway across the globe, this probably makes most sense.
  • Creativity means adding on to what is already there. We’ve used a stock photo to add a logo in mockups of marketing materials, for instance how it would look on a shirt or mug. This still requires design and personalization.

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