Stock photography is almost as old as the web and has developed enormously in the last few years. Even creative tools we use now include options to search for and purchase stock photography directly in the apps. But the recipe for the success of stock photography is its very downfall.
- Stock photography isn't unique. For stock photography to be profitable, it needs to be as generic as possible. It exists for an incredibly wide audience and it's purposefully simplistic. If it feels like you've seen it before, you probably have. The result is that any service or product it represents can quickly be commoditized in the mind of the viewer.
- Stock photography isn't personal. It has no connection whatsoever to a real business's people, culture or environment. If anything it's just a caricature of whatever it represents. Because images can be a powerful way to tell real stories about a brand, that opportunity is missed with stock photography.
- Stock photography isn't authentic. Stock photography and illustrations can be useful in representing concepts that can't practically be represented any other way. But when it comes to images of an environment, service or product, anything other than real images can feel contrived and sometimes even strange.
Final thought: Check out a hilarious and fitting parody about stock photography based a recent Vince Vaughn movie promotion!