Have you seen this woman? Or, the perils of stock photography for small business.

Do you use stock photography? If you are in any way responsible for your companies marketing materials (online or in print) then the answer is probably yes. And why not? There’s nothing wrong with it and using a stock photo can save hours of work and hundreds of dollars.

Using stock photography does have its perils though. Ever used an image that you didn’t pay for? You might be on the receiving end of a very nasty letter from the owner of the photograph especially if they are one of the “big boys” in the business. A $5 unpaid use license can become a $500 legal issue.

There’s also the habit of using generic groups of people to try and convey that your company is diverse or that your client base is young and trendy or whatever. Amongst those that know about these things it actually conveys exactly the opposite view. There was a very funny campaign recently for a not very funny movie where the movies actors were inserted into these generic photos and look perfectly “natural”. Not!

vince vaughn stock photography

And then there’s the issue of multiple people using the same image or the same model. You think you’ve got something unique only to find the same or similar image plastered everywhere.

I first came across this young lady when working on a website 3 or 4 years ago. I don’t know her name – I’ve taken to calling her “My Stock Photo Lady”.

power paging girl

Then I saw her on a billboard in Los Angeles – I know it’s a little grainy but believe me it’s the same person.


And now I feel like the kid in “The Sixth Sense” but instead of seeing dead people I see her everywhere, here

asian stock photo girl &


As you can tell this post is somewhat in jest but the moral of the story is very clear – be very careful when selecting a stock photo, especially if you’re planning on plastering everywhere, you might find your well-intentioned marketing efforts have been sidetracked by an overused image, or in this case model.

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