Stock Images - What are they?

Technically, Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses. Stock photos are a tool used by businesses to visually communicate their message without having to organise their own photoshoot. Whilst the idea of a large image library that you can 'click and collect' online is appealing, the generic nature and lack of brand connection created from generic stock images means you’re more likely to look like your competition and lose your audiences attention.

The three big issues with Stock Images are:

1.Generic images don’t convey brand values

Stock photos are designed to be multifaceted and be adaptable to most common brand needs. Whilst this generates more usability for their product, it means you, as the brand are left with broad and somewhat meaningless images. In a case study conducted by they found a 35% increase in customer engagement and sales when using an image of an employee over a stock image.

This results in a lack of brand identity. Generic images may fill the blank space in your website, but rarely do they communicate anything of actual substance to your audience.

2. No restricted copyright - your chosen images will be used anywhere and everywhere

Stock photography is like clothing you buy off the rack at a popular department store. No matter how beautiful it looks, you won't be the only person wearing that design. (the balance

Stock images are accessible to anyone with the money to pay for them, meaning that whilst the image may be well-suited to your individual brand, it could then appear on another companies site.

The first search result for “freedom” on Shutterstock is this “Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature.” When you plug the same image into TinEye (an application designed to search the web for, reoccurring images) it comes up more than 20,000 times on other websites. (

3. Your consumer knows when its fake

Due to the saturated market of internet content, stock images are more common and easier to spot than ever. So much so, they have become a hot topic within meme culture –

“The widespread appreciation of these images is based entirely in irony, especially among millennials. So, if you’re trying to establish an online brand with a refined, elegant aesthetic, goofy stock photos aren’t going to get you there. (


Stock images struggle to represent brand values and due to their generic and unlicensed use, they are never individually yours.

We always recommend investing in your own image library, which saves time, energy and money in the long term.