Why I Don’t Use Stock Photos

I’ve said before that I’m not a blogger. I even like to call myself an anti-blogger. You won’t see me to doing certain things that most bloggers do. I won’t use pop-up ads. The only ads you might see on my website would be for products or companies that I truly believe in.

Also, I won’t create shoddy automated courses. And I don’t use stock photos.

I learned the basics of blogging years ago. I know what gains attention and what draws traffic. They say posts without photos are boring and get lower Google rankings. Still, I’d rather have no photos than stock photos.

  1. Stock photos are overused: I’ve seen the same stock photos on about a dozen different websites and all over social media again and again.
  2.  Stock photos lack originality: There are some great photos available for free on the Internet. But many of them just seem kind of fake. There’s something missing.
  3. Stock photos are lazy: If I can do something myself, why wouldn’t I? I’ve always found it a little insincere to claim you create original content and then slap a random photo that someone else took at the top.

One time I emailed Michael Hyatt about photos.

In my early days of running a website, I had no clue what to do. I started following people like Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, and Chris Brogan. This was before they were too big to talk to. I exchanged some emails with Michael about blogpost titles and photos and other ways to gain traffic.

When I mentioned that I’d like to use my own photos, he said,

taking your own photos is too time consuming.

So, I learned to use other people’s photos and was happy doing that for a few years. But it never really jibed with me.

Early on, I also loved Leo Babauta’s work. If you’ve ever read Zen Habits, you know that Leo doesn’t use photos at all. And it’s beautiful. There’s something about simple and spacious typography on a plain-white page that gets me.

I tried to swear off stock photos a few times, but it wasn’t until I started this website in 2021 that I successfully gave them up. Some of the older photos for my Anderhill album covers are still stock, but that’s only because they were already created and I didn’t want to change them out on BandCamp.

Using your own photography is challenging.

Michael Hyatt does make a good point. Using your own photography is time consuming. It can also be problematic to take photos that directly relate to your every-posts’ topic. So what do you do?

There’s a simple solution. Not every post needs a photo.

I could add a photo to this post. But that’s not the point of the essay. I’m discussing why I choose not to use photos.

Someday, I’d love to be able to have an original photo or two that relates to each essay that I write. That’s hard to do. I already push the limits. I know that some of the photos I’ve used haven’t always directly related to the content of the post. I’m working on that.

I’m an anti-blogger. This site is my creative space. Why would I use random people’s work here? There are some instances where I would make exceptions to my rules.

  1. If the post is about photography and the photos being used are critical examples.
  2. If the photos are promotional images taken for me by someone else. Chris Otten has done some work for me.
  3. Or, if the photo is a specific example of something that I can’t photograph myself, such as a rare piece of art or an unusual place.
  4. Finally, if it’s a collaborative post or project.

People might think that writers who don’t use a photo on every post are lazy. It’s actually the other way around.

People who use stock photos are lazy. It would take me less than a minute to find a stock photo and add it to this article. On the other hand, it might take me hours of field photography to get the best photo for this article.

Some articles don’t need photos. If you don’t believe me, just pick up a newspaper or a magazine. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.