They Look Great, But Do Stock Images Help You Stand Out From The Crowd?

Sometimes a stock image will hit the perfect tone for your business – and, unfortunately, someone else’s as well. I’ve seen examples of the exact same image used as the centerpiece for the homepages of two competing businesses in the same market. A few years back there was a news story reporting that opposite sides of the same hot political issue featuring the same stock image of a gal in their promotional pieces. That got so heated and polarized the model herself had to make a public statement separating her from the contentious issue. These may be rare instances but the point is, as long as you are using widely available images you run the risk losing your unique point of view.

There’s a lot to love about stock photography. It plays a vital role in marketing and advertising. It’s easily attainable, very good, and can be cheap or even free. (Don’t get me started about how the stock industry is exploiting photographers.) On the other hand most of it is sterile, generic, and obviously from an agency library. It has to be that way to appeal to a broad range of users.

But what if you want to stand out from your competition? What if you want to show what makes your business offerings more personal and customized for the clients you want to attract?    

Consider having a personalized library of images created by a professional photographer. It may be a bigger investment upfront but can pay large dividends in both long-term cost avoidance and increased traffic to your website or storefront. Why would you do this? Well, despite how technical and direct we’ve become in business, people and other businesses still want to connect. They want to feel you are speaking specifically to them and that they won’t be treated like just another customer being pushed through a revolving door. The imagery you use plays a huge factor in what determines

The differences between a stock image and an image created specifically for you can be subtle or painfully obvious. Take a look at this image.

How many times have you seen an image almost exactly like this used to represent collaboration or success? Does this represent your business as unique? Does it make you feel like you’ll receive personalized service? Is there anything caring about it? It’s one of the most over used, cliché images ever created. Yet you see almost identical images on tens of thousands of website.

Now take a look at this one used for the same purpose.

This image also shows collaboration but in a much more personal and inviting context. When they see this image most potential clients will automatically assume you offer personalized solutions, have a positive attitude, and will take great care of them. It projects the passion you have for solving your client’s issues. It projects success. It may all be subliminal, but it’s still makes that impression. Even better, it’s not a stock image. Imagine images like this throughout your entire marketing efforts with your ownstaff! Given the exact same context and verbiage, which image would draw your interest more than the other?

Yes, a personalized stock library will cost you more upfront. But there are long term savings. You’ve got marketing images specific to your products and a level of personalized services you can use for at least several years. You’re minimizing the amount of images you need created each year for your annual report and marketing materials. In some cases you can avoid recurring licensing fees or even negotiate lower ones with the photographer. And you’ll certainly stand out from all your competitors who are probably using virtually the same, overused, sterile stock images.

Contact me to learn how a customized stock library can work.

Enjoy your weekend!
Charles Cotugno Photography/Stories of Autism


Charlie Cotugno is the owner of Charles Cotugno Photography in Woodinville, WA specializing in fine art portraits for families, high school seniors, and special needs clients. In addition he provides commercial photography services to businesses of all sizes. He is also the founder and board president of the non-profit organization Stories of Autism, a network of over 150 photographers from around the U.S. whose mission is to increase awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorders. For more information about Charlie and Stories of Autism please visit

By |2016-11-06T20:07:05-07:00August 26th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments