Why You Shouldn’t Use Stock Photos

Ok, ok I know sometimes you don’t have a choice. Your budget is tight and it was already a stretch to get your website redesign approved (even though your current website design uses Flash, is impossible to update yourself, and has flying toasters in the background). But here’s the deal, genuine photos of your actual clients, products, and/or location can make or break that new website design you’re so excited about.


We recently redesigned Touchstone Mental Health’s website. From day one they knew they wanted to work with a professional photographer to capture images of their clients, staff, neighborhood and beautiful facility. Because, as their Executive Director stated, “You can always tell when it’s a stock photo.” It’s that simple. You can always tell. We connected Touchstone’s team with one of our partner photographers Tim and Madie Photography. The results speak for themselves. Here are some of our favorite shots.





If those don’t say it then maybe this will:

  • Original photos are much more likely to connect emotionally with your audience. This connection makes visitors more likely to complete a call to action like donating or signing up for your e-news.
  • Affordable stock photos often feel staged, fake, and cheesy. Ever notice that the offices in those “office desk worker” shots have a nice blue/white color scheme and lighting that looks completely fake. You website user notices that too.
  • Short term vs. long term costs. Stock photos will save you money for the initial year or two but depending on how busy much traffic your website receives you may need to purchase an extended license.
  • Consider it an investment. Photos of your real clients, staff, facility, etc can be used across multiple marketing platforms. Think brochures, banners, leave behinds, social media. Instead of your marketing team spending hours looking through so-so stock photos they will have an entire library of images ready to use resulting in a more efficient workflow (aka money saved).
  • One size does not fit all. Stock photos are taken with the intention to be used across different markets and are not tailored to your brand identity or the nonprofit sector at all.

There are countless other reasons to stay away from stock photography. Hiring a photographer may seem like an unnecessary expense but making a real connection with your donors, volunteers, and clients is priceless. We’d be happy to share more of our insights and give you recommendations for fantastic photography partners. Contact us today to schedule a time to chat!