Stock photography is something you just know when you see it.

A businessman haughtily laughing alongside other businessmen around a conference table. A woman who seems a bit too smug about her grocery shopping. These stock photography images stick out like a cheesy sore thumb, and can discredit an otherwise pro advertisement, as well as your business.

Booking a shoot with a professional photographer to satisfy your imagery needs may seem over-the-top or too pricey, but it is actually a very reasonable solution for attaining marketing photos. Here are some of the major reasons why you should opt for the personal touch with your advertising images, and avoid going generic with stock photography.

Anyone can use the same photo

All is fair in love and stock photography. If you pay up, you have the right to use the image. Meaning, if other companies or your competitors pay, they also have the right to the same image. Imagine flipping through a magazine and seeing the same image of a smirking grandpa used on your billboard being used for another business’s print ad. How embarrassing.

Cost of image sourcing and manipulation

When it comes down to it, stock photos often end up costing you the same amount (or more) than a photo shoot would have. Yes, there are photos that you can source for free, or cost as little as $15 (or $1500 if you’re feeling lavish). However, when you add in the time spent searching for an image that will make sense with your ad or blog post, and then any further editing that may be necessary, you could have invested in a photo shoot tailored specifically to your particular marketing message. There’s also the option and ease of shooting your own photos, as some authors do. For example, if you’re generating daily content, a photo shoot may not be realistic.

Generic disconnect

Most of the time, stock photography is pretty generic. If it’s not common, it’s usually too bizarre to use. You know the ones — a woman dressed as George Washington peeling potatoes kind of thing. With generic comes an impersonal disconnect, not the kind of engagement you want from your audience.

Creative vision suffers

There you are, with a golden concept for an ad. This is going to be the one that really complements your brand and connects with your customers. But, oh no! You can’t find imagery that perfectly aligns with your vision. You end up unpacking the punch of your message by veiling it with an unfitting, generic photo. Think, what if Nike tried to use stock imagery? It’d probably be a lot less inspiring.

There will always be instances where it doesn’t make sense to hire a professional photographer for a project, and where stock photography does serve a purpose. But, if you aren’t in a time crunch and have the time to schedule a shoot, go that extra mile and give your brand the boost it deserves with custom photography.