3 Reasons Stock Photos Suck

By by Kyle Fox

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Having designed marketing pieces for corporate clients for several years now, I’ve developed a serious, burning hatred for bad stock photography. I’m going to tell you why I hate them, and you should too.

1. Stock Blindness

Canada goose Bad stock photos suck because people don’t even see them. Stock Blindness is the learned behavior of the audience to completely gloss over pictures of:

  • Smiling co-workers
  • Doctors with florescent teeth in white jackets and blue hues
  • Diverse children holding hands
  • Laughing White families
  • Etc.

Arguably, marketing is all about brand retention. When someone’s sink is leaking, the goal is for them to be able to recall the plumber who had the most catchy jingle or the business card shaped like a wrench. It’s about leaving an impression. Your stock photos of a leaky sink aren’t going to leave an impression, chances are no one will even notice.

People skip over crappy photography as much as they skip over the Flash ads that you pay a fortune to produce (hint: stop with the Flash ads already). It’s visual waffling—it’s there because someone thinks something is missing on the page; which leads us to the next reason stock photos suck.

2. It Doesn’t Do Anything (But Damage)

Celine handbags Here in the office at Alopex Interaction Design, there’s a simple rule we use for deciding if a specific element deserves to be in a layout: Does it communicate something? If the answer is no, then it’s gotta go. Design is the science of how to effectively communicate a message and there are correct ways of doing it. Bad stock photos don’t communicate anything except your bad taste.

Oftentimes when planning a page, we encourage clients to think about space as real estate. It’s all valuable and you are printing or publishing it with the hope that the way you present it is enough to entice people to read more about you or remember you. Here’s the thing, a customer knows that you specifically chose the banal photo that’s your Facebook cover photo. They know that you decided to use a generic photo of a smiling doctor instead of having nice photos taken of your staff which you are meant to be “proud of.”

View image | gettyimages.com

You are telling your customers that you are boring.

3. There’s No Excuse

It’s a shame too, especially here in Alaska, we have so many opportunities to use custom, beautiful photography that would make a huge impact on potential customers or patrons. Here’s an example:

A realtor in the Mat-Su Valley is working on a brochure to be left at coffee shops and slid into newspapers. Do you think that the people of Palmer, Alaska are more likely to read about her and her business if:

  1. The cover is an immaculately manicured hand shaking a rugged farm-worn hand. Or,
  2. On the cover is our realtor having just hiked the Butte. She’s standing, arms crossed, looking at the camera and in the background, we see Pioneer Peak with a pristine log cabin overlaying the sky in the background.

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Good photography doesn’t even have to cost anything either. With the resolutions today on your iPhone, art directors can work with just about any amateur photo and make it look good. Take the extra effort and make something that says something about your business.