By Kristy Schirmer

I have been involved in numerous health promotion projects where we were developing a new brochure, poster and website attached to a new project or service of some kind.  Instead of getting new photos and images for our project, we had to save money (of course) and use stock images.


The problem with this is that you can end up with multiple programs using the same images, which could present issues with brand/program recognition.  Imagine if a member of the community sees the same ‘mother and child’ image on a walk to school poster and a domestic violence service. It’s just confusing.

When it comes to health promotion images, best practice is to never use stock images and invest in professional photography to represent your program or project.

By using your own photography for your project you can be sure of the following:

  1. No one else will ever use that image again, only your organisation or program.
  2. You can keep using those images over and over for a multitude of uses.  This makes consistency, branding and recognition by your community so much better.
  3. Some images just look really ‘American’, usually because they are.  You probably don’t want to portray your program as that perfect “all American” look, and are often very posed.  Real people don’t look like this, so you don’t want your clients/community to be turned off your program because they don’t identify with the pics you’ve chosen.
  4. You will have a better chance at relating to your community if you choose backgrounds and settings from the area your project is based in.  Including images of local places like buildings, parks, and streetscapes as backgrounds for your images can go a long way to fostering relatedness and ownership.
  5. You will never risk getting in strife over using images that aren’t royalty or license free.

Avoid cliched images

Our golden rule:  When you use photos to help people identify with your program or service, you may be excluding more people than you are including.

If you do need to use stock images to quickly put together for a poster or social media post, you can now search Google for royalty free images, just by going to Google Images, selecting ‘Search tools’, then filter by usage rights.

You can now search Google Images by license if you need to take images from the Internet.

You can now search Google Images by license if you need to take images from the Internet.

PS. For additional inspiration, we loved this recent article about portrayals of women in stock images:


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