5 Stock Photo Pitfalls Marketers Should Avoid

Have you ever visited a website that looked like it could have literally been created by a robot, void of human warmth and character? These types of websites are usually boring and dry because they overuse common copy, pictures, and template web designs. While stock photography can be convenient and highly effective in certain situations, here are some pitfalls to avoid:

1. The Handshake

This painfully overused stock photo has been posted throughout the Internet on low quality and spammy websites. While many legitimate businesses use cliché stock photography, the fact is that visitors to your website are going to associate familiar pictures with laziness or a poor product. The picture might show a deal being made, but you might shake a lot less hands if you use this stock photo on your site.


2. The Meaningless Graph

Everyone knows that up and to the right is the best direction there is in business. Built-over-night marketing and advertising companies love to show stock photo graphs and charts that have absolutely no real meaning since they do not represent anything from the business posting them. If you want to gain client trust and prove to them that you can move that line northeast, then take screenshots of your own graphs and lay off the stock photography.


3. Phone Operator

The most ironic part about the overly happy and enthusiastic operator is not that no call center employee would ever be smiling like that on the job, but that most people dread calling support numbers. The last thing you want to see when you are explaining your so-simple-a-fifth-grader-could-understand-it problem is a smiling face acting like everything is OK. After all, whoever sat still for that picture didn’t just wait on hold for 15 minutes to have the connection lost.

call center gal

4. Diverse Group Photo

Nothing screams “we probably aren’t that diverse” than an unrealistically diverse photograph. If your company is really diverse, then you will have no problem displaying that to potential employees and the media with actual photographs of your diverse team. Not to mention anyone can tell that these pictures do not display the actual members of the team.

diverse team

5. Business People Doing Sports

Did anyone ever even stop to ask why the women are running a race on a track in high heels? The truth is, stock photos of business people doing sports will handicap you against the competition just like running a race with high heels.

business race

Not only do cliché stock photos act as a test for your gag reflex, they also will increase your bounce rate and decrease your conversion rate on your website. Pictures like the hand shake originally were used to build trust and to instill a sense of agreement and negotiation. With the mass production of stock photography and the availability of photos on the internet, pictures like the handshake lost their touch over time. Go with something real and unique to your business instead. Take actual photography or create unique graphics that represent the content on your website.

James Daugherty is a Seattle transplant who enjoys marketing and is a caffeine enthusiast. All images from this article are provided by Shutterstock and Bigstock.