Why do stock photos look fake?

Stock imagery is meant to be a baseline, simple, literal interpretation of something you search for. It’s meant to be as broad and general as possible, which oftentimes makes it look fake or staged — and that’s usually because it is. Stock photos can serve a purpose as filler images, but you’ll likely have to pinpoint your search specifically to find the image you need. However, it may still feel a little broad because stock is meant to feel that way.

Ideally, you want all the photos on your website to be original, but sometimes that’s not attainable. The more specific you can get with your search, the better. For example: if you’re looking for a photo for your contact section, try searching “person holding pen” rather than “person in office.” You can also look up local photographers and see if they have local stock photos available — those may be more specific to your industry or location.

About Carrie

Carrie Rollwagen is host of the Localist podcast and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Vice President of Strategic Planning at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find the Localist at @thinklocalist on Instagram and follow Carrie at @crollwagen.

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