Marek Uliasz / Alamy Stock Photo

Debunking the myths of stock photography – the image buyer edition

Stock photography sometimes seems to be a dirty word in the creative world but I’m not sure why. Everyone uses it, everyone knows everyone uses it, but no one is willing to admit to using it! As a stock photography advocate and someone who is exposed to its incredible diversity everyday it can sometimes be hard to understand the negativity.

We need to face up to the idea that stock photography doesn’t have the best reputation.

So, as an Alamy employee, a photography graduate and a consumer of all things marketing I’m here to debunk the myths and explain why stocks reputation isn’t very fair…

Myth 1: No one uses stock photography anymore
When I tell people what I do for work they will often say to me “I didn’t realise people still use stock photography” or “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stock photo” but neither are true.

The stock photo industry is worth billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of images are sold every day and a huge variety of businesses and individuals around the world are using stock images.

So this one is a complete myth and people very much still use stock photography and the chances of you having never seen a stock photo is very small.

Myth 2: Stock photography isn’t creative and it won’t work for my creative projects
Now this one is more subjective, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is still completely untrue.
Some of the best photographers in the world sell their photography on stock photo sites. For a lot of photographers, it is just part of the package of being a photographer. This means stock images are often taken by experts with years of experience under their belt, shots are art directed, lit and edited by the same group of people you would pay for a commissioned shoot (and you wouldn’t dream of calling them not creative!)

There is also the fact that a lot of major advertising and design agencies use stock photography for their projects. From worldwide bank advertisements, to smaller more niche creative design projects. Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, stock photography is as much a resource for creative agencies as it is for corporate businesses and publishing houses.

Myth 3: The images aren’t authentic, they’re too staged
The great thing about stock is you can find anything you need. Sometimes you will need a staged photo on a white background, perfectly lit and well edited and sometimes you will need an authentic image that is more representative of real life.

With the growing trend for “real” advertising, user generated content for marketing campaigns and mobile photography it is not a surprise that the demand for authentic imagery has increased, but this also means we are getting more and more authentic imagery submitted from photographers. Just take a look at our mobile collection Stockimo to see a small example of how stock images are not always what you’re expecting.

Myth 4: Stock photography only represents clichés that aren’t relevant to everyday life
Now I can’t sit here and say that there aren’t clichéd stock images, some of which border on ridiculous (look at this article from Mashable if you aren’t sure what we are talking about), but there is another side to stock photography.

The other side has a focus on the art of photography and its power within a variety of contexts, form illustrating a newspaper article with a live new shot to enhancing your social media ad with a well composed business image or creating a powerful advertising campaign with an authentic lifestyle shot.

Myth 5: It’s not unique to my project, I don’t want to use the same images as my competitors
There are two parts to this myth that need debunking.

Firstly, there’s a lot of unique content on stock photo sites. To take Alamy as an example we have over 100,000 photographers selling their images with us. Each of these photographers will have their own unique style and will be shooting a huge variety of content. In fact, we’re well known for having a photo of everything, because we don’t edit our collection based on the content of the image (search for something obscure and you’ll see what I mean!)

If you’re working on a huge marketing or advertising campaign and you really can’t afford for anyone to be using the same image as you, you can pay for exclusivity which means you buy the rights to solely use that image so no one else can.

So, there it is, the biggest stock photography myths have been debunked and now you know that stock is a great option for whatever project you’re working on.

Start your image search now over on our homepage, or check out our latest imagery pages for inspiration.