Stock photos are often better than using “real” photos

Can a stock photo actually be a better fit than “real” photos for your business.  The answer is often yes.  If you business is based on your persona – if you are the next Ben, Jerry, Orville, Oprah or Martha then you probably should go with a real photo of yourself but in most cases you are probably better off using stock images or spending the big bucks for a custom shoot with models.

Why is stock better than “real”?  Let me tell you a story.  I was down in Florida visiting my parents in a large retirement home and got talking to one of the residents who is into photography.  We were talking about testimonials and ads for the place and she told the story of how they bring in a bus load of senior models once a year to shoot images for their brochures and video promotional pieces.

Why don’t  use real residents?  Well, they do sometimes but there several advantages of using a model.  For example:

  • A real person could change their mind and ask them not to use their pictures anymore.
  • A real person could die and then continuing to show the pictures or video might upset their friends.
  • A real person could become disgruntled with the place and move out.

The other problem with using real residents from this particular retirement village is that not many of them actually look like the typical seniors one would image.  For example a  lot of them dyed their hair and look a lot younger than the targeted age range they want to attract in the ads.  Plus real people are not used modeling so they can be more difficult to work with.  A seasoned model can more quickly get into the positions or expressions the photographer wants.

Real Employees or Stock Employees?

Now when it comes to a business one has the same choices.  Do I have a photographer come in and do custom shots of my employees or do I use stock photos?

Using real people has several disadvantages.  Real employees might not want to participate and being a spokesperson for the company falls outside of their job description.  They might want more money and basically it might develop into an adversary relationship.  Also what happens if they quit or are fired?   What if it turns out they are terrible at customer relations and you end up getting rid of them?  Are you going to continue to use their image as the face of your company?

In a face to face business where the customer is going to expect to meet the person in the ad then sure, you need to hire a photographer for custom head shots and update them on a regular basis.  But for telephone based businesses or larger businesses where the customer might be assigned a representative from a large pool of employees, then stock photos can be used.

I recently saw a billboard for an personal injury attorney’s office that featured a famous actor playing the part of the head of the firm.  Now I don’t know how many potential clients expect to meet face to face with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. but the ad probably better portrays the idea of the type of attorney people want on their side.

Copyright – Edward M. Fielding –