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5 Deadly Mistakes of Using Stock Photography

When someone says “stock photography,” it can send shivers down spines of creatives in the advertising field. In 2016, 7.6% of marketers said stock photos had the most impact despite being the most frequent visual. Meanwhile, 41.5% of marketers said that original graphics performed best. Stock photos are commonly used for smaller agencies and businesses because it can be a quick, simple solution to finding high-quality photos in little to no time.

While we ultimately recommend that using original, high-quality, custom photos is the way to go, we understand that your small business may not have the time or money to get that creative aspect taken care of. So if your only option is to go the stock photography route, we want to you be successful. Read on to learn 5 deadly mistakes you should avoid when using stock photos.

Mistake #1: Using stock photos that don’t represent your content very well

Adding visual elements to your content creates a more appealing draw for your audience. However, a huge mistake we’ve seen is people adding stock photos that don’t represent their content. If the photo you use is only slightly related to your content, it will mislead your audience into thinking they’re learning about something else.

Take a look at these articles. The one on the top is from the actual website. As you can see, they’ve used stock photos that do a good job of representing what the content is about. In the second image, we replaced the photos with stock photos we found online. Notice how even though they’re nice images that have to do with the industry, they lose the context of what the article is actually about.

Mistake #2: Using fake looking stock photos

While you may not have the time or resources to get custom photos taken, using fake looking stock photos is a huge no. Not only will your audience be able to tell it’s fake – but it’ll make your business look like you have poor creative judgment – or that you’re just too lazy to find a high-quality image.

Mistake #3: Using the same stock photos everyone else is using

When creating a strong online presence, it’s important to have original, unique content that represents your business. If you’re choosing a stock photo, you risk using the same one as other businesses in the same field. How does this affect your reputation? It reflects poorly on your business because it creates skepticism in your audience that your business isn’t that original. Here are photos from three different websites that used the same stock photo on their first page.

Her Campus Website
Freedom of The Press Foundation

Mistake #4: Using old or poorly designed stock photos

We’ve had it with bad or poorly designed stock photos. They’re unappealing and make your business look dated, and like you don’t have good taste. Remember that your online reputation is a 24/7 representation of your business. Invest in good stock photography or custom photos – don’t slack on this!

Mistake #5: Using copyrighted stock photos without permission

Using copyrighted photos without permission is probably the worst idea. Not only is it a bad idea, it’s illegal. People will recognize that you don’t own the photo you’re using and could potentially take legal action. Doing this also makes it look like you’re willing to cut corners when it comes to your online content.

Like we said – we recommend getting custom photos taken for your business. However, if you can’t make it happen, don’t scare off your potential customers with the five mistakes listed above.

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