Why you should NOT use stock photos for your web site

While stock photos are a great resource for blog posts illustrations and marketing materials, it may be not the best fit for your website landing or about page.

Customers do not like stock photos

To use or not to use stock photos.

That is the question that most small business owners and developers have when choosing website photos for a business web site.

And honestly, it’s a whole lot easier and cheaper to use a stock photo than to hire a professional photographer. With a stock photo site, all you have to is to register, choose a picture and then pay for it.

If you want your own photos, you need to find a photographer, conceptualize, find a model, and then spend hours on a photo shoot.  It takes a lot of time, money and energy and frankly, who has time to do all that when you’re running a business, right?

But should resist the temptation to use stock photo? Here’s why:

Users hate stock photos.

Hate might be too strong a word, but you get my point. In a post by Corey Eridon in Hubspot, he included generic stock photos as one of the 15 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website.  When people see a stock photo (like the one above), they know immediately that it’s a stock photo and it does not encourage them to trust you or your company.  “If you can’t afford to put your face on your business web site, why should I work with you?”

Consequently, web sites with stock photos do not convert as well as web sites with images of real people.  A study by Marketing Experiments revealed that photos of real people generated 35% more conversions than generic stock photos. Having photos of you and your staff on your web site breeds familiarity, trust, and like. These ultimately lead to conversions.

Where to get website photos

Assuming you’re heeding our advice not to use generic stock photos for your web site, then you would want to know where you can get photos.  Here are some places you might want to look:

  1. Your computer.  Many people I know store thousands of photos in their computers or external hard drives. Give yours run through and see whether there is something you can use. It can be a solo picture of you which you can use in your “about me” or “bio” page.
  2. Facebook photos. People share anything on Facebook. In one instance, a client’s employee shared photos of their office party and uploaded it on Facebook The client ended up using that in their “Meet the team” page and it was a great picture that showed happy employees.
  3. Portfolio sites of Photographers. Many photographers now sell their photos through their own web sites.  Look for photographers in your area and if you see something you like, get in touch with the photographer.
  4. Fiverr.  This is a crowdsourcing site where people advertise what they can do or what they would like to have for $5.  There are plenty of amateur photographers who would sell their photos there or offer to take photos for $5.  Now, that’s really cheap and it could even be cheaper than buying stock photos.

Final tip

Ask around. You might have a friend or an employee who’s into photography who would be willing to take photos for a meal or a coffee at Starbucks.