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3 Cringeworthy Stock Photography Traps to Avoid

As marketers, we've been there - you're on deadline and need to find a photo to lead your blog post or online news article.

You're running out of time and there's no option for "real" photography of your team or the subject of your piece. We all know the value of photos with online content, particularly webpages and news articles, so anything is better than nothing. Right?


The rules are often more relaxed when it comes to blog posts, but if you're looking to use stock photos to represent your company across your website or News section of your website, you should be careful to follow the recommendations below.  

There are a number of reasons why it's much more effective to either amend your deadline or forego the added photo altogether...

1. Posed, static images


We've all seen those dreaded images of shiny-looking models in brand-less, glass offices, shaking hands over the table.

Nobody's office looks like that - your customers know your offices don't look like that and they know those people aren't in your team. Those visitors who aren't yet customers can see from your Instagram account and About webpage that these photos are fake - or, let's be honest, they can make a good guess.

2. Fake expressions


Photos of handshakes and smiley people hard at work can often place mistrust in your brand unless it's a real photo of your real team (of which there are good examples).

Choose stock photos that are more natural in their setup if you can't get photos of your own team - go for ones that preferably don't show much of their face and is more about relaxed body language or a relaxed setting (handshakes tend not to be in this category). 

A photograph of a hand holding a pen at a desk is often much more believable than one of a person holding a pen to their face with an expression of deep thought. 

3. Location, location, location


There are some website owners that choose to use photographs of other offices and locations. Indeed, we have used photographs of other offices and locations, because they are generic enough we can argue it suits the subject matter.

However, be incredibly wary of using any stock photography that clearly presents a location that's totally false to your own. It might be the dream to have an NYC office, but if your company is based in Consett, showcase your real office in Consett (or choose close-ups of your products/services/desk/branded materials).

Most people can spot when your website imagery doesn't add up with the real deal about your office because a vast amount of stock photography is American and it's clear to see, either because of the yellow taxis, cars on the wrong side of the road, California beach attire, US spellings in photos or the Chicago needle is in the background.


It's absolutely vital that you don't do online searches and use Image Search results to save any ol' image from the internet. Do your research and choose wisely. Only every use royalty-free stock photography from websites that clearly state the license of the photo you're using and always give credit wherever necessary. 

Use our blog post which outlines a wide range of safe-to-use stock photography sites and double-check before use.

Of course, you can pay for stock photography from the likes of Shutterstock but these images must be paid for with the appropriate license selected. 

Both paid and free stock photography must be judged to ensure that the photo you're selecting really adds to, rather than detracts from, your article. Step back and make a non-biased decision, if you're struggling, ask for a second opinion. 

Ask yourself the question, "Would you really believe that photo is your business or is it actually relevant to your piece?"

NB: Stock photography examples are sourced from Pixabay.

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