Stock Images Everyone Should Steer Clear of

Visual material, as you’ve probably learned, increases interaction (read traffic and conversion). Visual content, photographs and videos, caused a 65 percent spike in interaction a month’s time after the launch of Facebook timeline for brands. Keeping all that in view, how certain are you that the imagery on your website will attract visitors?

The expectations on what’s nice and what’s not have drastically changed since the 1990s, so it’s past time to reconsider image use on most websites (the time when stock image sites started to gain their popularity). Photos for the sake of images are no longer a good idea.

Businesses, artists, and individuals commonly use stock photography. However, there is an army of poor stock images on the internet for every decent one. 

Why should we be concerned about the usage of stock images?

  • To begin with, image SEO and optimization is an effective way to increase the amount of traffic to your website. You will greatly increase the flow of traffic by getting your share from the Image search by using unique related images that are smartly optimized.
  • For social media promotion, images are important. Bright and fascinating images entice us to click on the links and read the posts that our friends and colleagues have shared. If photos were unimportant, Twitter would not include them in the feed.
  • If you publish original images under the Creative Commons license regularly, you can earn valuable backlinks from websites and blogs that want to use your work and include an attribution connection.
  • Images are critical for eCommerce sites that need to show off their merchandise. The higher the conversion rates, the better the pictures.
  • Finally, photographs aid in the creation of a company’s identity. Only high-quality, relevant images will improve the website’s online appearance. According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 46.1 percent of people believe that a website’s architecture is the most important factor in determining a company’s reputation.

Stock Images That May Harm Your Business

1. Abstract Images

Stock photography isn’t the only form of imagery available. Illustrators and 3D animators also have their work certified. The use of abstract or very general 3-dimensional renderings, on the other hand, is a little out of date. Anyone else getting a 90s nostalgia feels from this?

These kinds of photographs are usually ineffective and unappealing to look at. As the internet has grown in popularity, users have become accustomed to receiving high-quality content. These photos are space hogs and should be relegated to the past.

2. Overly Happy Office Employees

Everyone knows what the real dynamic in a typical office workplace is, no matter how many happy office setting images you use. You’re not fooling anybody, believe me. These photos are sadly old and the punchline to a lot of jokes. I recommend staying away from the stereotypical cheerful corporate office workers unless you find yourself trying to be witty or sarcastic.

Customers want to see real workers and their work environments, not stock photos of them. If you don’t use photographs of your actual employees and instead use actors, your company can develop a sense of mistrust. You want to be true to yourself. Furthermore, in the current labor market, startups are a viable option.

3. Exaggerated Emotions

This goes hand in hand with avoiding photos like “I’m so excited to be in this office.” Exaggerated feelings are ineffective for the same purpose that cheesy infomercials are ineffective. They’re thought to be a parody by most. This is because, unless you’re an actor or an animated person, the normal spectrum of human emotions is a little more subtle. However, this is not common in many cases.

Why do you think people would be moved by something so out of the ordinary and amusing? We want our viewers to be able to relate to and empathize with the people in the images. Try using more organic imagery to tell the story instead of being too literal about emotion or shoving an idea down someone’s throat.

4. Unnatural Activities

Photographs of people doing things in places they wouldn’t normally do them are bizarre.

On the edge of a huge cliff, holding a business meeting on your laptop? There’s no way.

These pictures were once used as sales gimmicks for “How-To” books and other items. They tried to persuade you that if you followed their protocol, you would be able to operate remotely from anywhere on the planet. However, these pictures are unrealistic and unsettling (and at times, terribly Photoshopped). They should be avoided.

5. Outdated References

Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual, technology, pop culture, and news evolve. You don’t want the company to fall behind. Using out-of-date references would only serve to undermine the argument. Try to use and photograph timeless images that will not become obsolete as the world changes. This is particularly true when it comes to photos of technology and gadgets.

For example, someone who uses imagery or memes of presidents or other officials will become unfashionable as soon as the officials shift.

6. Low Quality or Low-Resolution Images

You’d think this would be obvious, but you’d be shocked! Often download the highest resolution or quality available while using stock images. Paying for something too small to be useful is a waste of money. This can happen as a result of technical limitations. Older stock photos were taken with cameras that didn’t have the same resolution as of today’s cameras. Stock photos from newer camera models are usually preferable.

7. Bad Photoshop / Editing

Avoid taking, using, or, dare I say, wasting money on a badly edited stock picture. Images with heavily edited eyes or skin smoothing akin to a cheap phone app that blurs the face are a big no. A business venture can be made or broken by the material and imagery you use. Value attracts audience members and potential customers. Spending more money on a better picture is preferable to settling for a mediocre one.

This is also valid if you buy a stock photo and then edit it. Outsource your editing to a specialist if you need anything unique edited but your skillset isn’t up to the task. Please don’t use Photoshop to transform your product into a stock image! Oh, no!

8. Busy images

After you finalize the photo concept you want to present, get picky with your stock image selection and aim for something simple. Feel free to combine visuals, photos, and colors for your marketing, so that the final item can be enticing and multilayered. Again, it’s best to start with a simple image of the emotion or concept you’re looking to express. Meanwhile, avoid images that have too much going on in them.

9. Cliché visuals

Cliché stock images are another type to avoid. The issue with these images is that they do nothing to help build a unique brand image. In a time where countless competitors are promoting their own distinct brands, it is a bad decision to use a boring, unattractive photo when better options exist. Don’t fall for the fad, and don’t use photography that has already been used several times. The key to beating your competitors is to opt for something fresh and original (original in the sense that it aligns with the aura of your brand). 

Stock Images Must Haves

  • Colors the pop and minimalist compositions. Bright colors are currently in vogue, particularly when combined with simple and elegant compositions.
  • Robotics and cutting-edge technology are two words that come to mind when thinking about robotics. Every part of our lives has been infiltrated by technology. Photographing modified robots interacting with humans in a friendly manner is becoming increasingly common.
  • Images of travel and nature. Beautiful scenery and thrilling travel photos are making a big splash in the stock world thanks to the increase in popularity of Instagram travel bloggers.
  • Cute animals doing cute stuff. Dogs, cats, and other pets will still be in demand as stock photos and on the internet!
  • Causes that benefit society. Our society has evolved into one that is more caring, sensitive, and open to social causes.
  • Variety is a good thing. Along with social causes, the positive representation of a diverse range of races and cultures from around the world is important. This results in a wonderfully inclusive world.
  • Portraits that are more candid, organic, and natural. The days of painfully styled and Photoshopped portraits are long gone. More organic, empathetic, and candid portraits are becoming common among businesses.


These are some of the stock images to avoid no matter what. Besides the above tips, make sure to avoid images that feature identifiable intellectual property like logos and brand names on t-shirts or other elements. For other images, make sure to confirm that it is available under Creative Commons license to avoid a potential infringement.