Why your web photos must feel real

If your web photos look fake, users will stop trusting your brand. Make sure your stock photos feel authentic – especially if you use stock photography.

The worst car I’ve rented 

As the contented owner of an old Subaru, it can be eye-opening to rent a new car. The rental might be great (that new car smell!) — or it might be awful. Probably the worst car I’ve rented was a Pontiac sedan, built just before GM pulled the plug and eliminated the brand.

Maximum revs

Naturally, the car had lots of design issues  –  for example, learning how to lock and unlock all the doors was a mystery I never unraveled. But the experience took a turn for the worse when I started the car. Upon turning the key, the dashboard gauges, such as the speedometer, turned bright orange. Then the gauge needles swung all the way over and pointed to the maximum position on the extreme left of the dial – as if I were wildly revving the engine.

Bad vs. fake

My guess is that Pontiac designers were trying to simulate excitement – the impression this was a high performance car eagerly straining at the leash. Unfortunately, this was not an exciting car. It was an unhandy, lumbering sedan.

So not only did the Pontiac feel bad, but it felt fake as well – and that made the experience a lot worse.

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Suits and computers

"Suit and computer" photo

“Suit and computer” photo

In a similar way, your audience is very alert to inauthentic experiences. On the web, for example, you’ll encounter a whole class of web photos we call “suits and computers”, which show happy executives clustered around a computer screen.

Another type you’ll find are photos we call “the line-up” – smiling employees lined up into the distance.

Example of "line-up" photo

Example of “line-up” photo

Your audience will pick up on the fakeness of these sorts of web photos in seconds. And that undermines their trust in your brand.

How to select web photos

  • Avoid images seen on “template” websites – you can see some examples at godaddy.com
  • Make sure the people in your pictures feel like real folks – not models (unless, of course, you are in the fashion business!)
  • Consider photos that show your audience — rather than your organization
  • Start creating your own original photography archive


It takes 63 feet of wire to make a Slinky.

About us

LevinsonBlock is a Brooklyn-based healthcare marketing agency that specializes in mid-sized organizations. Our clients include healthcare providers such as FQHCs, disease foundations, and healthcare technology firms.
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