The Case Against Stock Photography

by Kristian Segelken, Social Media Manager

We are all familiar with stock photography. It’s everywhere. It seems nearly every brochure, advertisement, or packaged product contains an eerily perfect photo of a smiling family or field of flowers. We know these images are fake but we continue to let them slide. As the Atlantic’s Megan Garber stated, “To see a stock image is to know you’re seeing a stock image.” These images are available through several sites, they’re inexpensive, inoffensive, and they’re easy to work with. So why should you make the switch to shooting your own photos? The answer is simple: engagement.

Your social media pages are the face of your brand and you want to make a first impression that is relatable. As compelling as it may be to use the perfect photo, perfect is not relatable and your followers will pick up on that almost immediately. In fact, Gen Z is quicker than any generation before them at differentiating between the content they feel is authentic, and what they can ignore. This kind of split-second decision is not something to take lightly as it can result in new followers and new customers or it can result in nothing at all. The image is important because it draws people in and stops them from scrolling for just one second. You can put a lot of thought into writing the perfect copy but nobody will read it if you don’t catch their eye first.

We are constantly pushing ourselves to shoot more product photography in-house, like the photo shown here. In addition to our collection of professional lighting and camera equipment, we have made a small investment in a few photo backgrounds. Influencers have been utilizing tools like these for years and they result in excellent images when photographed correctly. Not only does it yield significantly better engagement on social media, it’s also easier and quicker than using stock photography.

It also helps to get creative and use the resources around you. Take this back-to-school photo as an example. Using bright colored construction paper, office supplies, and a few alphabet blocks, we were able to create a personalized setting that highlights theproduct without screaming, “photoshop!” What’s even better is that the setup and shooting process was quicker (and more fun) than searching for the right stock photo and adding the product in with a photo-editing software.


Now let’s say you feel absolutely compelled to use a stock photo in your next project. Maybe you don’t have access to a professional camera or you just can’t create the right setting for your product. Sites like Unsplash and Pexels allow ordinary photographers to upload their images and make them available for free to anyone in need of high-quality photos.

The next time you’re considering adding your branding over a stock image and hitting, “post” consider what kind of content you would like to see in your own feed. Your brand is better than stock photography. Your brand is real, relatable and authentic.

Share the Post:

Related Posts