Business photography plays an indisputable role in improving brand exposure and engagement. Indeed, a picture speaks a thousand words. Because of the high demand for photography in business, stock photography was invented. This is the selling /licensing of images by photography agencies for brands to use in their communications and marketing activities. Not all pictures might speak a thousand favorable words for your business. The use of stock photography is just not a wise idea for your brand. Let’s find out how this is so.

1. Your customers are not stupid; they can tell fake emotions

Take the case when you want to showcase how your customers interact with your products. Stock agencies might not have the right pictures that you can use in product review and testimonials. Usually, in stock photo collections, you will come across images of people with unnatural facial reactions. Extreme happiness or extreme sadness.

That is not real, and the people you are trying to market to will see that. You will lose your credibility in the market. It gets even worse when you use royalty free images that have already been used before in the public domain.

2. Fictitious office buildings and staff; but what happens when customers visit your business physically?

The images look nice. Many stock photos show good-looking office workers in suits in a skyscraper office. A long time ago that might have made customers think that your brand is the best deal, but that is no longer the case today. Don’t elevate your business to a level that it might not be there yet.

People want to see the real deal. Don’t be afraid to portray your small office and how your employees rise above every day’s challenges. That way when consumers visit your office or business, they get what they saw on the website- this is how you build credibility and trust.

3. Abstract images will just transform your brand into an abstract concept

Stock photography is full of obscure pictures that could be so utterly useless to your business. Sometimes brands use 3D robotic figures to denote staff or customers, dolls, signs, walls, clouds, animals and everything. These images say nothing about who you are and what you do.

They make your business idea seem farfetched, and customers will merely browse past to your competitor’s website where they will find images that speak to their problems, interests, and desires. The idea of photography in marketing is to tell a story to customers in clarity and conciseness. Abstract photos tell no tales of concern or interest to your customers.

4. They are too generic and irrelevant

Why is that? Stock photos photographers usually produce their images with the idea that many people can use them in their communication and marketing endeavours. Stock photographers want to cast their nets as wide as possible to increase their revenues. Needless to say, if you get caught in that fishnet, your income might take a downturn in no time.

You need images that resonate well with your type of business. You need pictures that pass across a specific message to make your brand stand out in the industry.

5. Stock photography showcases fake products

A marketing campaign should showcase a product’s model number, its features, and specifications. Stock photography agencies might not have the right images about your products. You will end up accepting to use pictures that only show products that resemble yours. All the while you will be keeping your customers in the dark of the uniqueness of what you have in your inventory.

By using stock photos, you will be robbing yourself of the chance to grow your product awareness. If you are not careful, you might end up promoting somebody else’s products on your space.

6. Some stock photos are poor quality

Your brand needs professional photography to grow. Users want bright, sharp and crisp images that show all the details about your business. Sometimes small brands try to save on costs by getting low-resolution stock photos. These look unprofessional, and they will ruin the perception of your brand in the market. Put it this way; right quality images speak of your dedication to excellence and delivering value to customers.

7. Stock photography sends out an inconsistent message

Many stock photos can only be licensed for a one time use. We all know that marketing requires frequent publishing and on many platforms. These include blogs, social media, website and other channels. The one time use licensing would mean that the image you used on your site is not the same one you use on your Facebook account.

Aside from that, when you want to publish a message about your brand, you might not find stock images that relate closely to the ones you previously used. This jumbles up your marketing message and makes it inconsistent. No one will believe you.

family cooking together in a bright modern kitchen

How to avoid ruining your brand image

Walk away from it. Stock photography will ruin your brand, as is clear from the above illustrations. So how do you resist the destructive allure of stock photography? It easy, you just have to keep everything real. Below are things you can do to help your brand grow without having to use stock photos.

Hire a professional photographer

Professional photographers have the right equipment and years of experience in business photography. You don’t have to hire the most expensive photographer. Many skilled photographers charge affordable rates and deliver quality pictures. Just do a bit of research, review their portfolios and you will find the right one.

Partner with a photographer

Short on a budget? Try to partner with a photographer; help them with their brand awareness as they help you with your images. You can do this by sharing their work on your social media and providing positive reviews and testimonials online. You can also pay them in kind with some of your products. Just try and ensure that the value you are giving is the same as what you are getting.


Although I don’t recommend this, it is still an option. DIY business photography requires you to invest in a good camera and learn the ropes of business photography. Seek help. If you have a photographer friend in your circles, they can help you get it right.

family enjoying a movie night


Every business is striving to maximize their brand awareness and to increase website traffic and conversion rates. Sadly many startups have succumbed to the snare that is stock photography. Stock photos are cheesy, irrelevant and unreal. Save your brand, don’t use stock photography.