Stock Photos Don’t Have To Suck
Ian Lurie Apr 30 2008
Stock photos don’t kill campaigns. Campaigns using stock photos kill campaigns.
I just found a very smart (and funny) article about stock photos on Information Rain. Chris’s point: Most stock photography is just awful.
But fear not! You can use stock photos without looking ridiculous. Here are a few tips:
Choose Photos With a Purpose
Don’t pick a stock photo because you need to fill some space. Select a stock photo because it serves a purpose.
It should communicate your message.
…But I’m not sure what else it could say.
And this image seems to say “I’ll like you if you buy from us”:
Uh-huh. I’m sure she’s an employee.
I found these images on sites selling copier parts and supplies, by the way. I’m feeling generous, so I will not provide links.
Both sites would be better served to have no photo at all, or (gasp) a photo of real employees.
You can, with a little thought, choose stock photos that creatively reinforce your message.
Think about it. Your product reduces distance and brings teams together. Find an image that evokes that feeling. I took a minute to move the continents closer together on this map. Add a caption like “Make the World Smaller With Our New Conferencing System” and you’re all set:
OK, this map isn’t the greatest. I did this in about 60 seconds. Deal with it.
When I use most stock shots, I’ll add something. My favorite addition is a thought or speech bubble (as you’ve probably noticed):
I have zero Photoshop ability, so I used a program called Comic Life to comic-ify this image.
You can also put an image someplace out-of-context:
Beware of Other Uses
Most stock photos permit multiple, simultaneous uses. Do you want the happy house in your real estate ad to show up in a radon gas warning packet? Probably not.
Remember The Message!
Above all, look at every image you use and ask, “Does this help me accomplish the goals of my campaign?”.
If it doesn’t, leave the space empty. Or (heaven forbid) put useful information there.
Stock photography doesn’t have to suck.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More