They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in today’s visual-heavy online world, images are more important than ever. That said, a picture isn’t worth a thousand words if you use tacky stock photos to try and get your message across.
You know the ones I’m talking about; they are either bland photos of mildly content people doing boring things, or extremely excited people with stupid massive smiles and day-glo white teeth.
Lets run through a list of the worst offenders.
Bad surreal stock photos
Stupidly surreal stock photos are the ones that don’t make any sense and try to be either arty or (unsuccessfully) funny. A businessman standing in a field holding balloons should probably be fired for being totally useless at his job. A busy person with post-it notes stuck all over their face should be sent to a mental facility. A person with six arms is a fucking freak irrespective of how happy they look about life.
Then there are those surreal ones where somebody is forming a heart with their hands whilst the sun shines through them which can be found in use on the website of practically every single natural therapy business in existence. Its been done to death, find something new, or at least find a new shape, I heard circles are cool.
You know when you eat a salad and it’s literally the funniest thing that you’ve ever done? Nope, me neither.
Bad group stock photos
Group shots are always so overly diverse that it only serves to draw your attention to how ethnically, gender and age diverse the photo is. They always feature a man, a woman, a young person, an old person, a black person, a white person and an Asian person.
The groups used in stock photos are always way too happy, especially tradespeople. A smiling tradesperson giving a thumbs up signifies that they will do a brilliant job and are completely trustworthy. Nothing signifies trust more than a tradie giving a thumbs up.
Don’t get me started on construction workers laughing over site plans, I don’t know about you, but I find building plans pretty hilarious too, what with all the lines and numbers and stuff.
Then there are the group shots of people with their arms outstretched who are jumping into the air for some unknown reason. Not once in my life have I put on a suit before leaping into the air with an idiotic grin on my face.
Bad business stock photos
Business stock photography is the worst of the worst. Its totally and utterly stupid. It always features generic business people who are ready to do business things and win at businessing business.
Also, any business using these photos should have their HR department investigated because they only seem to hire ridiculously good looking models who’ve spent far too much money on teeth whitening products.
Photos of business people shaking hands are probably the most over-used stock photos on the internet because that’s what business people do, they shake hands. In fact, I’ve had entire days where I’ve done nothing other than shake peoples hands and smile.
Then there are the happy business people in a meeting who look like somebody just cracked the funniest knock-knock joke ever. It’s physically impossible for people to be having that much fun in a meeting because meetings aren’t fun, meetings are boring and a total waste of time.
Don’t forget about the successful business people crowded around a computer screen pumping their fists in the air like their football team just scored the winning goal in the final seconds of the game. Stop fucking around and get back to work.
Finally, if your business offers customer support, it’s vital to show an overly attractive and friendly customer support person wearing a phone headset.
Stop using shit stock photography
The reason many websites and publications use cliche stock photography is because their business doesn’t have strong imagery associated with it. Instead of getting creative, they take the literal interpretation of what they do. Thats why so many corporate business must use dull stock photos of people wearing suits shaking hands.
Instead of resorting to shitty stock images, get out there and take your own photos. A decent photo is an opportunity for you to showcase the character of your organisation and the people who work there. You may not be as pretty but you’re definitely less plastic.
Powerful and interesting imagery is worth more than just a thousand words… It will add value to your business and more importantly, it will stop you from looking tacky and stupid.