Why Authentic Photos are Superior to Stock Photos (Video)

We’ve all seen them before. The cheesy, staged photographs with paid actors faking their over-the-top enthusiasm for a product or service.

These are called “stock photos”. They’re everywhere and they’re usually pretty easy to identify. You don’t need a trained eye and top-notch detective skills to come to the conclusion that they are not very “authentic”. And what is it that any business wants to be perceived as? We would put our money on “authentic”. That said, while stock photos serve a purpose, they are not really the best option in terms of good representation of a brand. If that’s the case, why do so many people resort to paying high prices for stock photography? Well, there are a couple of reasons:

1. Stock photos are fast and convenient

This can’t be denied. There’s not much work involved in selecting from pre-made photos on a website rather than hiring an expensive photographer or trusting an employee to produce quality images. That brings us to the next reason…

2. They’re just not good at taking pictures

That’s not meant to be an insult! Simply put, not everyone is good at taking pictures. If your business is a pizza place, your employees probably make a great pizza. That’s their job! Who could blame them for being lousy photographers? Would you let a hair stylist fly your plane? Maybe that’s an odd comparison, but you get the idea.

…Now the Benefits of Authentic Photos

While all of this sounds like a sales pitch for stock photos, it is important to keep in mind that convenience and lack of ability or funds should not be factors when representing your brand. The advantages of using real and authentic images cannot be understated. For starters…

1. They actually look like pictures of real people

Yes, that is pretty blunt, but it’s the truth. That is not to say that actors are not real people (they’re wonderful), but they’re not fooling anyone. We know they’re not really office workers that are just tremendously excited to get that report to Diane. With photos of actual employees and clients comes a sense of authenticity that can greatly benefit a business looking to give off positive vibes.

2. There are studies that show real photos are more effective

Studies by MarketingExperiments and Jakob Nielson confirm that stock photos look fake and lower trust with potential clients. Authentic looking photos of actual employees also make it more likely that viewers on a webpage ask for consulting. The MarketingExperiments study showed a 35% increase in subscriptions for consultation on a website when an authentic photo of the founder was used, compared with a generic image of a smiling woman. The Jakob Nielson study demonstrated that real images are less likely to be ignored in comparison with stock images. This is also very important with products, not just people. If you’re offering a product or service, upload realistic photos or videos of your product and/or service in action.

stock photo comparrison

3. Your real photos are unique

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but many people fail to realize that they’re not the only ones who had the bright idea of using a stock image. If someone goes to your website, sees an image, and says “Hm, I feel like I’ve seen this before…”, it’s probably because they have. Maybe they saw it on a competitor’s site, which can be particularly embarrassing.


These two businesses used the same stock image. Awkward!

That stock image may have saved you time and money in the short run, but in the long run, potential clients are turned off by the display of laziness and stinginess. On top of that, your brand is seen as unoriginal and lacking in the creativity department. While the reasons in favor of real photos are compelling, there is one downside. Taking pictures in-house can be time-consuming and requires a certain level of skill and patience. It is an investment of time and resources, and this may not be a possibility for many businesses. That’s why we offer this kind of service, as well as various others, at a great price. Not only do we take professional pictures and videos personalized just for your business, we can also create graphics and curate your social media accounts to increase your online presence and gain followers. Don’t let your business’ website and social media profiles be held back by lackluster content. Give us a shout and we’d be happy to help.