Stock photography, yes or no?

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 3 minute read

What is stock photography?

Stock photography is a large resource of ready to use images which can be purchased and downloaded online then used in work.

Photographers take shots then submit them to stock companies to be licensed. They can then be purchased for a specific price based on usage or for a flat fee.

In essence stock photography is like buying clothing from a supermarket. It’s cheaper, average quality and very convenient if you’re already shopping, but it definitely isn’t one of a kind!

Believe it or not, stock photography started in the 1920s for magazines and newspapers!

What do you think of stock photography?

Most of the time stock photos are just awkwardly posed models trying to look natural in a business environment. Nevertheless, for companies, they are a valuable resource despite the countless misconceptions about stock photography, mainly that it shouldn’t be used because of it being a poor substitute and might reflect badly on a brand. Stock photography and now videos have come a long way in the last few years and whether or not you should use it all depends on the context. In a perfect world, everyone would use their own unique photography, but in reality, clients don’t have the budgets or the time for this. It is recommended though, let’s face it humans are visual creatures. We like pictures, so good quality photos matter. A website is the first insight into your company. You want it to be good right? I’m not saying that stock photos won’t make it great, it will just give it that extra touch using your own.

Where can you get it?

You can subscribe to a number of large stock imagery websites and get so many images a month, which might be better than buying one or two which might cost more anyway. There are actually ones that you don’t have to pay anything for too. Some things in life are free!

Free Stock image sites:

Paid stock image site


+ Low price. It will probably be a lot cheaper than a custom photo shoot.
+ Loads of choice, with new photos every day.
+ It’s super convenient – it saves A LOT of time. Just think I could probably find an image of a women jumping within the next three minutes. Whereas if I had to take my own professional photo I’d need a camera, a photo studio, a model and time.
+ Images can often be downloaded in multiple formats.


+ It’s definitely not original. So if your trying to stand out and be unique, stock photos might not be the way forward.
+ There’s a lot of questionable images out there. Normally very staged and can cheapen a brand. Look through any stock site and you’ll be sure to see the people pointing at something in the distance with a cheesy grin on their face.
+ License restrictions. Some photos can only be used for editorial purposes and not for advertising.

So, overall is stock photography good or bad?

Honestly, it’s best to use both in harmony with each other and it mainly depends on the budget. A full photo shoot will obviously always be best but If you don’t have the time or budget for a photo shoot then you’ll have to use stock photos. Simple as.

Something to leave you with.

Whilst looking into stock photos for this blog I came across this amazing twitter account, which shows some of the strangest, and shockingly actual real stock photos that can be found.

Stay clear of these! 

A good example is this one…









Drunk driver on the road or ‘hold my beer while I do a 360 turn?’