It’s true that Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world. Hence why it’s often used online and in the representation of good user experience.
On the odd occasion I have clients who want to use Stock photography (those found on iStock, Shutterstock, etc.) or even worse they want to ‘get some photos off Google’, which I’ll also add is illegal. Stock photographs are perfectly fine for use in newsletters or within blog posts for example where there is still an element of your brand around and as a filler for where you don’t have custom images that represent what you’re trying to convey.
I always encourage clients to take their own or get professional photographs taken. This is purely because as users we are conditioned to seeing the same old cheesy stock photographs. In user testing the same disgust comes up when seeing dreaded cliched stock photographs. It’s unfortunately very common across the web because it’s available everywhere and is relatively cheap. Users hate them because they can’t associate with the people they contain or the situations they recreate.
So when we see something so unique, so authentic, it catches our eye and we feel more a kin to the brand we’re looking at.
Let’s take an example: You run a property management company where your team looks after a number of client properties and you have a website where you talk about the type of investment your making with them. You would typically get something like this: