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Avoid These 5 Stock Photo Traps

Posted on 8.16.2017
From infographics and posts to videos and whitepapers, most content marketing types are complemented by images. When the wrong photos are chosen, however, a campaign can fall flat as a reader's attention is not immediate captured and kept and the wrong message can be delivered before words are even read.

Since they are often affordable and accessible, many marketers turn to stock photos to support their campaigns. The stock photography experts at Dreamstime have provided a list of things to avoid when choosing stock photos for marketing purposes. 

1. Static, posed images

You know the look – statue-like people, frozen in forced handshakes, fake conversations, acting out an activity without much enthusiasm. This will never be convincing. Find photos where models seem to be moving and speaking naturally. Images of real-life moments help to draw your customers in and give them something they feel they can relate to. You don’t want photos of mimes on your company’s channels, you want real people (with movement) like in the example below from Kamil Macniak (Dreamstime).

Good example:
movement

2. Fake smiles and forced expressions 

Chances are, your customers find fake, forced smiles just as irritating as bad poses. Would you buy something from anyone who has a cheesy smile glued to their face? Probably not. No matter how “cheery” the model in the photo looks, this type of photo fails to engage the audience in an authentic manner and doesn't invite people to trust the brand. Search for photos where models smile naturally and don’t make you want to roll your eyes at first glance.  

3. Reinforced stereotypes

It may feel tempting to assume that an image of a manager, doctor or CEO must be someone of a certain age, but that could scare off your millennial customers. This same concept applies to gender, race, religion and more. Reinforcing cliché stereotypes through the depiction of models in your photos is the last thing you want, and your customers will make that known if you fall into this trap. Make people of all ages, races and genders feel well-represented with a diverse selection of models in your images. Your diverse customer-base will appreciate it. 

4. Shying away from popularity

It’s common to overlook popular stock photos because of fears they are overused by other brands. But, these images are often popular for valid reasons, like technical prowess, strong emotional weight, or simply because the image speaks to viewers. There is probably a good reason that certain photos aren’t selling; think of it as expert advice from fellow marketers to see what photos are popular and which ones just don’t click. Whatever you choose, stick with in-focus shots that are clean and crisp, featuring bright colors that will stand out on all your channels like this great example from Rawpixelimages (Dreamstime). 

Good example:
dreamstime-color

5. Fearing creativity

Stock images are ‘basic’ by definition - they aren’t personalized to your campaign or brand. That doesn’t mean you can’t make the image your own with some Photoshop magic. Don’t be afraid to place your logo in an interesting spot within the image, or test out a new background that better fits your campaign. Taking every image and using it as-is can be a missed opportunity; personalization and customization give you a chance to take great work and make it even more fitting for your brand. 

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