Stock Photos in Legal Parameters and Why They Should Be Avoided


Images on your law firm’s website are often the first thing many potential clients see. Whether they realize it or not, they will draw many conclusions about your practice, skills, personality, and professionalism from these images. If you’re relying on free legal stock photos to make your first impression, you’re missing out on a powerful marketing opportunity. This is true even if you have a great headshot and only use stock photos as filler on the rest of your website. Here’s why stock photos are never a good substitute for custom photographs of your business.

They are generic by design

Stock photographers must cater to a large and diverse demographic to sell their photos. So their work is generic by design. It is relevant for everyone, and therefore for no one. The generic nature of stock photography means it’s never the best option for presenting your business in a specific or flattering light.

Some of your competitors may even use the same images. When this happens, it’s easy for one law firm to blend in with another, leaving clients wondering what the difference, if any, is between the two options. Do you really want your customers to associate you with bland, uninteresting images? Stock photography doesn’t offer much improvement over no photos at all.

They create false expectations

What makes your business unique? Is it female-run, very diverse, made up exclusively of Ivy League graduates, or something else? What makes your business special will be lost in stock photos, which feature generic people and no clear message about your values ​​or style of practice.

They can even create false expectations. For example, a young law firm may have an open floor plan, an aggressive litigation style, but a relaxed approach to professional dress.
Buttoned images that show lawyers in a huge conference room too little to convey this new approach.

Even when customers know the images are generic, they still have some level of expectation to get what they see. Thus, the use of archival photographs prepares clients for dashed hopes even before they sign the mandate contract. This is not a good marketing strategy.

Stock photos are easy to recognize

Stock photos are easily recognized by anyone who has ever created a website, used photos online, or worked with a photographer. Many potential customers will instantly recognize that your photos are generic. This tells them a few things, none of which are good:

  • You are trying to save money.
  • You don’t want to invest in quality photos.
  • You post images on your website that do not accurately represent your business.

These messages can directly undermine messages about success, commitment, hard work and professionalism. Potential customers watch what you do, not just what you say. If you slap a few images on a lackluster website and hope for the best, they might assume you’re taking a similar approach when writing briefs, preparing pleadings, or negotiating a settlement.

Custom forensic photography is an investment in your brand

Legal photos are an investment that pays significant interest. Your business will be more attractive to potential customers and may even begin to land deals with higher caliber customers. You’ll have ready-to-use images for press releases and news stories, and portrait requests will no longer cause a panicked search through company archives. Invest in professional legal photography. It’s more affordable than you think. And you can’t afford not to have them.

© Copyright 2022 Gittings PhotographyNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 130


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