Stock photos aren’t always the right choice

If you need photos for your website, stock photos can be a great option. There are thousands to choose from, they are relatively cheap, and they brighten up your site. Everyone loves pictures. But sometimes, choosing stock photos is a bad idea.

For example, we redid a site for an oral surgeon a couple of years ago. The existing site was filled, FILLED, with stock photos. Photos of people brushing their teeth, photos of people sitting in dental chairs, a photo of a woman wrapped in a towel holding an apple? No really, that was on there. I don’t know why. One of the first things I did was go through and remove nearly every stock photo from this site. It wasn’t that the photos were bad, but they weren’t relevant. I can see how one might think putting a photo of a person in a dental chair smiling would be a good idea. But think of this – is this a photo of your office? Is it obvious it’s not your office? Is the dentist leaning over the person in the chair you? If not, then why is this photo on the website? It’s going to be a distraction.

Scary Dentist

Is this the image you want to represent your dentist office? Generic photos of your waiting room or office would be a better option.

Obviously, this isn’t the right image you would want to represent you. Just because it’s a photo of a dentist doing dentistry doesn’t mean it’s the right photo for a dental website.

We have been working with Crystal Clear Pools now for over five years on both their website and print materials, and I frequently find myself looking for appropriate photos to use on print ads and flyers. If you go to any stock photo place and type in “kids swimming underwater” you’ll find a ton of photos. You know what’s odd to me, though? Nearly all those kids are swimming underwater with no goggles, their eyes wide open looking at the camera, and big, open-mouthed smiles.

Family smiling underwater

How’s that water taste?

I have kids and I have a pool and let me tell you, this is not what they look like when they swim underwater. It’s obviously a fake photo, and yet, I see this on the cover of pool catalogs ALL THE TIME.

Use good judgment when choosing stock photos, because the wrong photo can detract from your website rather than enhance.

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Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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