5 Reasons To Ditch Stock Images

With everyone focused on differentiating themselves from their competitors, I’m surprised at the number of small businesses still using stock photography on their websites and in their marketing materials. Stock photos are often licensed for specific uses – although let’s be honest, they’re often used without permission. Using stock imagery (whether purchased or not) is an inexpensive, easy choice, but here are 5 reasons you should think twice before you download:

They don’t showcase you or your business. There are many reasons why you would want your own face on your website, especially if your clients pay to work with you specifically. The same logic applies to wanting to showcase your space, if that is a major selling point for your clients.

Stock images look like stock images. There’s often a staged or cheesy look and feel to stock images that makes them easy for visitors to identify (even if they don’t consciously realize it). Using personal photography feels warm and honest.

They are less sincere. We know your intent isn’t to mislead anyone with your stock photos, but they just aren’t an authentic representation of you. We love to see businesses being real and transparent (with pride!).

Other people will use them too. When you purchase the rights to use a beautiful photograph for your website, there is nothing stopping your competition from using the same photo (or even another business in a totally different industry). Even if it’s just a coincidence, the imagery on your website serves you better when it is a direct reflection of what is uniquely you.

They cost money. If you’re going to spend money on a photo, it may as well be a reflection of you! Spring for a photographer or treat a friend with a good camera to a nice meal (or drink). Of course, if your hands are tied and you have no choice but to use a stock photo or two, do pay for the photo. It is important to support the photographers who share their art with the world, and operate with integrity too.

The difference that true-to-you photos will make to your website and social media channels will be felt by those who visit. It’s worth the investment. You may end up spending a bit more, but these photos will serve your business well, and make you feel happy and proud every time you look at them.



This post is a resource from The Borden Workbook, our comprehensive guide to help entrepreneurs organize and grow their small businesses. The Borden Workbook is used in conjunction with consultation with Borden Communications, or as an organized guide you can used on your own to launch, develop, and nurture your small business (starting now!). We take pride in creating a clear and humble approach to good business tactics that everyone can understand and execute.