Where Has Your Royalty-Free Stock Photography Been?

by Kerry Martin

It’s a tough time to be a stock photography model.

First came news about how the woman depicted on the Healthcare.gov website was getting cyber-bullied.

Now making headlines is the controversy over three highly used stock photography models that were shown on a campaign poster for the new constitution of Egypt.  Unveiled today, the poster depicts five people, three of whom appear to be Westerners.  Overlooking the fact that this poster also included a misspelling of the word “Egyptians” in Arabic, the biggest irony is showing three people on a poster who clearly aren’t “all Egyptian.”

Egypt's constituent assembly Chairman Amr Moussa attends during a news conference in Cairo
Credit:  Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

What this demonstrates for communications professionals is a need for caution when using royalty-free photography.  Even though it’s a great way to visually represent your message, using stock images risks having your message discounted because it doesn’t come off as genuine.  (Read: if anyone can do a simple Google image search of “business woman” that turns up the stock image, you probably shouldn’t use her photo on your “Contact Us” page.)

Tip for the day:  before selecting a stock photo for your design project, see where it’s been first.

google image search

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