The Death of Stock Photography in the Modern Age - Social Media Explorer
The Death of Stock Photography in the Modern Age
The Death of Stock Photography in the Modern Age

We all know the drill.

Your Star Trek binge is suddenly interrupted with a smiling Mom, Dad in his smoking jacket and small boy with apple shaped dimples casually spouting the benefits of Clorox™ New Bleach Detergent®™™ over dinner as though it were a daily topic of conversation. This form of advertising is as dead as the marketers that first invented 60 years ago. We now live in a world composed of baby boomers, which have evolved a new sense for detecting bullshit advertising.

We can’t act surprised, advertising has to grow with the world not against it. As the collective citizens of this planet become more educated, marketing will need to take on a more genuine and honest presence. Advertisements can no longer sell, but rather converse with the viewer.

The Death of Stock Photography in the Modern Age

Pausing the daily scroll

Imagine that average guy going through his morning ritual of scrolling absentmindedly on Facebook for several minutes before showering. This is how most of social media is used these days: casually and to fill in those dull moments between day-to-day activities. Social media is filler and the time we spend on it is not as important as marketers would like you to think. People aren’t scrutinizing their newsfeed; they’re scrolling mercilessly only stopping for something that is deemed worthy by the jury in their mind.

Every single thing we put out there as marketers has to pause the twitching finger of the baby boomer sitting on the toilet at work. By default once someone notices they’re seeing an advertisement they’re infinitely more likely to glance over. This is one of the great challenges in modern marketing: not only blending in but standing out in the eyes of the most jaded generation in history.

Visually Speaking

Pausing the jaded scroll requires a new approach to content. Blocks of text won’t cut it here, there needs to be an immediate and noticeable grab for attention. A recent HubSpot article concluded that visuals are processed by the human mind over 60,000 times faster than text. Consequently and predictably this leads to over 94% more views of your post. This is no joke and I was surprised myself to learn that visuals are no longer optional for the success for a campaign.

 You are what you click

Stock photography is dead. It’s been dead since the moment the general populace understood what it was. Each time a consumer clicks on an ad they’re nonverbally saying they approve or connect with said ad on a personal level. I can tell you now there’s not one person on earth that would chose to align their personality with stock photography. The old adage is true: “You are what you click” says it all. Very few would choose a stock photo out of the buffet of content available to them on a given day. Our time is just too valuable and if the image is all we have to go by who’s to say that the content won’t match the lazy aesthetic the ad is portraying.

The right path

It may seem challenging to find an alternative to stock photography but I can tell you now that options are plentiful. Here’s a small list of the ones I’ve been using the past couple years. Bear in mind most of these are free to use.

Startup Stock Photos



Fantasy Crave

Stock Snap

Death to Stock Photos

I stand behind each of these sites as they truly understand the direction visuals are going.They need to tell a story that the majority of millennial’s can stand behind. They must not only stun viewers but also leave them craving to know what they represent. They need to pause the jaded scroll of every teen and twenty something out there that’s been raised on day time television selling them shamwow’s and snuggies. This is no simple task but I’m confident with the right mindset true change is possible.

Composition of the elements

Here’s an example of how we applied these modern stock photos to our own advertising here at SME:

The Death of Stock Photography in the Modern Age

I’ll break down our process for selling our social tracking toolkit as follows:

  1. The image must be spectacular and relevant to the content at hand.
  2. Use as little text over image as possible. Think of this as something you’d be proud to put on your own personal Instagram.
  3. The text of the ad needs to be minimal and to the point. Keeping the ad text in the same theme as the image is a huge plus. We attempted this step by saying ‘Lost at sea with your marketing?” helping us stay on theme with the ocean visuals.

Keeping with this format can help keep your ads as user friendly and appealing as possible. This has to be an ad that your users would be proud to share with their friends. Something that would force your little sister would stop and smile. Something the general populous would approve of in their most sacred of newsfeeds. This is the mindset we must take on. We have to begin to see this landscape for what it truly is to it’s core.

About the Author

Annika Bansal
Annika is a Senior Editor at Social Media Explorer. She travels full time and has lived on the road working remotely for over two years. You can check out her Instagram to follow her on the road.

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