Child and dog

With the proliferation of social media, audiences are becoming much more attuned to photography used in marketing, product and advertising mediums. Your customers, even if they don’t know what it’s called, are aware of “stock photography” and how contrived it can be. Savvy marketers and designers have begun using images that not only relate better with their customers, but are aspirational in a genuine and creative capacity.

Let’s look at some ways that we can find the most effective photography in your products or service:


The phrase “avoid cliches” at this point, may ironically, be a cliche. But time and time again we still see designers using images that are “too easy.” Challenging yourself to come up with a creative conceptual idea that illustrates an emotion or a concept is much more effective than re-hashing the same “stock” go-to images. Businesses are no longer about handshakes and boardrooms. Very few verticals (with the exception of law and finance) have all their staff in suits and ties any more. In the example of “business” as a concept look inward and find out what’s special about the business and use images that highlight those strengths like craftsmanship, personal attention, values, etc.

Happy cute girl painting in her room


Playing it safe and appealing to the mass market is something that’s tempting but if you take some time to learn your audience, and learn about who the highest converting demographic is, you can probably start pushing the envelope a little bit creatively. If you’re targeting millennials, you have earned some bandwidth to become a little edgier. Take some risks and challenge your audience. Audiences that spend the majority of their time online have done it and seen it all – you can afford to be bold.

On the opposite spectrum, the boomer generation will also want to see photos of real people – but real people like them. They’re aware of classic sales methods and marketing collateral, so show them relatable imagery that speaks to them and doesn’t portray their generation as stock models with white hair and even whiter teeth. Don’t be afraid to be real. It’ll show your brand to be honest and genuine.


One really interesting development in the design world has been the resurgence of film. As photographers, and nostalgic ones at that, we just loved the look and loved how the colors felt. We saw, a few years ago, how software developers were trying to duplicate this aesthetic as it became very popular on social media platforms and advertisers were taking notice. As this interest has begun to evolve we find a lot of photographers experimenting and playing with actual film development and creating intentional errors to further a mood, a moment captured, and even a concept using light, grain and the unique colors only achieved by film. Advertisers can take advantage of this by using the aesthetic to tell a story. Sometimes it’s not just about the content, but how the content was shot that’s more important to the story of a photo.

little car

Another topical example is mobile photography. While mobile photography is quite popular, the initial frenzy has since died down and much more sober and logical approach is taking hold on how people are using mobile photography. It speaks to a mobile generation of people documenting their lives “on the go.” It resonates with a generation who is not afraid to document their lives. There is a unique quality and exception to photography that could only have been shot from a mobile phone that, again, tells a story in itself.


The images you choose should express your message without a lengthy description. Yes, that is a tall order, but if anything it should reinforce the importance of the right image in the right place. Make sure your image supports what you are trying to say, and has the ability to say it for you. You don’t want to miss out on connecting with your audience because what you are actually trying to get at is buried deep within a paragraph of copy.

birthday dog


Your audience will inherently connect, so choose a memorable image. If you strike an emotional chord, your audience will react. Think about how you want your audience to feel. Is it empathy, happiness, anger? If they can connect to your image emotionally, they’ll want to learn more. Let your image be the hook that reels them into your copy.


Don’t be generic, it’s way too obvious. This is where stock photography gets it’s bad rap. All too often, we feel the need to use images to “fill in” white space. Don’t use an image just for the sake of using an image. Make sure it can be put into a specific context that enhances your content.