Why Bad Stock Photography Happens to Good People

Why Bad Stock Photography Happens to Good People

Stock Photo Image Example

We’ve all been there looking for that ideal stock photo or illustration that will perfectly convey the story we are trying to tell, and bring a drab presentation or website to life.

iStock Image

Image Credit: iStock

We search high and low across the plethora of stock photography services, only to be confronted with that overly perky customer service agent with the throwback headset on, or the prototypical up and to the right arrow chart.

A frustrated gasp for air and the Clash tune “Should I Stay or Should I Go” in your head, you ponder is it worth continuing on your photo journey, or should you decide to hang with the “also ran” stock photo kids.

It’s moments like these that will make creatives and marketers alike want to cry, as Adweek so keenly points out.

So how do you get past becoming one of the bad girls of stock photography choices?  We think it’s largely in how you approach the challenge.

Adweek suggests it’s about getting real (emotionally authentic photos, in real places with people who have real expressions).  We completely agree with that, but feel the biggest challenge is how to find those photos.

Here’s how we approach our photo searches:

Image Credit: iStockDon’t be too literal. It’s easy to fall into the trap of literal translation of a message you are trying to convey. How many times have you seen handshake images used to represent partnership, sales etc.? When we were working on our new website it would have been easy for us to only use images with two identical elements to represent “Double.” Instead we looked deeper into our message, which was about “double strength creativity” and found provocative images that were playful and creative in their own right, and subtly conveyed the “double, stronger, and fresher” concepts.

Beware of over used metaphors. Metaphors are a great way of telling your story without being too literal but be careful not to fall into the been there done that metaphor trap. Every company wants to be a hero for their customers but corporate dudes with superman shirts underneath are over played.

speechwritingBe provocative. For a financial executive presentation we were working on, we took the iconic brass bull of wall street and contrasted that with a colorful yarn bull. It underscored her message of driving a 200-year old financial institution to embrace innovation and change.

Play to your audience. Make sure you are keeping your audience’s interests, age and persona in mind when selecting photos.  If you are recruiting or marketing to millennials do your really want to pick that sterile conference room photo of senior partners in suits?

Consider composition.  Boats Docked at Mountain LakeLook for interesting photo composition.  How elements are placed, people are sitting, viewpoint (i.e. aerial, from behind etc.), and style (silhouette, blur, outdoors etc.) can all add to the impact of the photo you are selecting.  Some stock services like Corbis and Getty Images allow you to include these elements in your search parameters.

How do you approach your stock photo searches?  Please share in the comments section.

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