To use stock or not?

by Adrian Toon, director of a2n

Stock photography is very easy to obtain today from the internet, and is often used in both literature and websites for illustration.
Remember the old adage, “one picture worth ten thousand words” (Fred R. Barnard, 1927)?. Well stock photography can help, but when it chosen poorly, such as an example of an American-looking receptionist on a UK company’s website, it does look a bit desperate, and the ‘words’ are not all positive for the reader.
For PR use, it is certainly not acceptable to use stock images as the editor will often realise the style of image being used does not fit with the copy or the company. Remember this is the editor we are talking about – he or she does know a great deal about the industry and can spot stock a mile off.
Far better to have real picture taken about the news item or product if you want your copy to be used.
We all have smartphones these days and, for medium sized images for use in the press, their output can be quite acceptable as we have discussed in this column before.
Just remember the basics to get an acceptable image taken at your premises by your own personnel and with your own personnel. So, get them snapping and select the best picture of a large bunch taken. There is nothing wrong with getting a photographer to take professional images either – the better quality of the image, the more likely the editor will use it in a larger size on the page.
Use stock photography very, very carefully. Your own staff may not look like super models in images, and I include myself in that statement, but we are all front-facing the customer and the readers of the important trade magazines, so let’s communicate and use those ‘ten thousand’ words as well as we can.