Lines of Sight

The business side of photography

Toronto Photographer: 416-540-5494

Taking stock of your company web site

This guy sure is busy:

He buys his eyeglasses in eastern USA.


He attends a church in western USA.


He donates blood in Canada.


He goes to school in France.


He got a hair transplant in Australia . . .


. . . and another hair transplant in Singapore.


He goes to a dentist in New Jersey, USA.


He buys his herbal supplements in Malaysia.


His good teeth, nice hair, fancy eyeglasses and fine health haven’t gone unnoticed. A news site in India has reported on his good looks.


The guy is also a team player:


He works for a travel agency . . .


. . . and a construction equipment company . . .


. . . and a car buying service . . .


. . . and he sells bamboo products . . .


. . . and he’s an expert with numbers.


And if that isn’t enough:


He also works for a business consulting company . . .


. . . and a credit resolution service. . .


. . . and he’s a psychologist . . .


. . . and he offers business opportunities in Argentina to those who want to be self-employed.

He’s also an actor, a music teacher, a publicist, a journalist, a copy editor, a blogger, a marketing expert, a publicist, a web site designer, a business management consultant and who knows what else.

It’s easy to find and fun to see how a popular stock image gets overused. There must be hundreds of stock photos that seem to appear almost everywhere.

None of this blog post is meant to make fun of any of the above web sites but rather it’s to show what happens when, not if, companies rely on stock pictures. A business fools no one except itself when it uses stock pictures for its marketing or corporate identity.

Cheap stock pictures are, uh, cheap and convenient but some businesses forget that photos can do much more that simply fill a hole on a page. They forget that an authentic picture can enhance the perceived value of their business and build trust with the viewer while a stock picture does the exact opposite.

What does this have to do with your business?

You are never unique if you use stock photos for your business marketing. When you use the same pictures as everyone else then you look the same as everyone else.

How many stock photos are you using on your web site? Are you using stock pictures that show a non-existent customer service department or fake executives meeting around someone else’s desk? Does your About Us page include pretend employees? Do you publish a disclaimer stating that these images are stock pictures for illustration only? Even then, why would any business choose to illustrate rather than actually inform?

Stock pictures might be used to illustrate an idea or concept but they should not be used to portray a fact. Why? Because it might be considered false and misleading by Canada’s Competition Bureau.

Section 52 of the Act is a criminal provision. It prohibits knowingly or recklessly making, or permitting the making of, a representation to the public, in any form whatever, that is false or misleading in a material respect. Under this provision, it is not necessary to demonstrate that any person was deceived or misled; that any member of the public to whom the representation was made was within Canada; or that the representation was made in a place to which the public had access.

Stock images might be used for decorative purposes but except for that, you should use authentic photography to show facts – the true facts – about your company. Ask yourself: Do I have a pretend business that can get away with pretend pictures or am I running a real business that requires authenticity?

The photos on your web site are not for you, they’re for your prospective customers. Are these customers asking for pretend pictures of your company?


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