Stock Photography Must Die #INDIETECH



If you want me to care, stop using stock photography.

I admit it. I’m 100% guilty. Like the vast majority of entrepreneurs I’ve used stock photography for years because it’s quick, easy and cheap. I’ve spent hours pouring over Pexels and Veer/iStock for the right photo – rock cairns for balance, people in ties for serious business, coffee stained napkins for brainstorming, handshakes for trust, smiling faces for good customer service, mountains for adventure – only to see it being used all over the Internet. In the grand scheme of things, it would be easy to say that there are more important things to worry about than original versus stock photography. Although, lately, I’ve come to believe that this is one of the most important things a business should consider because we are all craving authenticity.

It’s easy to assume that we can’t feel the difference between Photo A and Photo B.

An “important” business meeting

An actual meeting at Wisetail HQ

But, I think we can. I believe that people are smart and increasingly we can feel when something is fake (Photo A) even if we can’t specifically point to what causes the feeling. The subtle feeling of being lied to is a turn off whether you’re selling me shoes, an idea or enterprise software. Conversely, I believe we can see and truly appreciate rare cases of authenticity (Photo B).

Last month, we began a war on stock photography at Wisetail. Going forward, every photo will be original and will showcase our culture, our people or our community. Now, photos go through a simple test before usage: can we caption this photo with the name of the person, where they are and who took the photo? If we can’t then we don’t use it. We’ve already seen results in the form of positive feedback from clients, engagement on our social posts and excitement internally from our team.

This idea is not a new idea. It’s new to us and it might be novel in our industry but companies like Patagonia have built their entire consumer brands on the idea of “reality branding” starting decades ago by replacing professional models with real Patagonia customers in their early catalogs. Meanwhile, the analytical, ROI-obsessed B2B software marketing departments have been slow to catch on to the power of authenticity.

I don’t know about you, but I get more stoke (and desire to buy a jacket) from this:

Patagonia in the field product shot

Than this:

Staged product shot

Here’s to being proudly independent and believing in the power of original photography.

Wisetail LMS CEO Justin Bigart at Wisetail headquarters.

Founder of Wisetail • Vision Quester  Reluctant Business Person