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Stock Photographs – Criminal?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Hands up! Who conducts, or teaches close protection (or investigations / surveillance) and uses one, or more, or similar to these images?


Why are there so many ‘professionals’ out there using the same old ‘stock’ images on their websites and marketing material? If you are such a professional in a niche sector, why not be seen to be professional and use your own unique images that make you stand out from the crowd?


You might as well all be from the same company or even use the same web designer, a viewer is only going to think that you are one of the same or you have ripped it off from each other.


Seven Reasons why not to use Stock Images on your website.


1. Your site looks like everyone else’s and does not make you unique to the viewer.


When many Close Protection Officers, Investigators (or associated companies) use these ‘stock’ images on their websites, the viewer flicking between the sites, more or less sees the same company over and over again. There is no difference made between you and the next guy, possibly even your competitor.


You need to be unique & distinguishable and give the impression you are better than they are, not the same.

Right Click on Me and Download

Try this. Right click on the image above and save it. Then do a reverse image search in Google with it. Now you’ll see what I mean… everyone's using it.


2. It gives the impression you are lazy.


Because you have gone the easiest and less hassle route of building a website, it gives the impression that you are taking shortcuts and not really bothered about the image you wish to portray. Does this reflect on how you conduct your business and your professionalism?


Stock images of board meetings and buildings I get, and I can understand wanting easy images to temporarily get your site up and running, but your website is your shop window. You want people to come in and browse rather than have them walk past and go to the next site… where they see the same image – again!


3. Have you actually paid for the stock images via a website such as ‘ShutterStock’ or ‘Alamy’ or have you just found them by Googling ‘bodyguard’ or ‘private investigator’?


If you have paid for it, fair doo’s but it is still a stock image that a lot of other people are also using.


Search engines are exactly that; they search the Internet for the images you have searched for and index them. This does not mean that you have the right to use them on your site, you would not walk into a public library and walk out with a book under your shirt… which leads onto our next point.


4. You are probably infringing someone’s copyright if you have just copied them from a search engine or someone else’s website.


If you have found an image, say on Google, when it is clicked, it takes you to the page that hosts it. The page that hosts it, has probably paid for the image or has taken the image themselves. The page is more than likely to have a ‘copyright notice’ in the small print at the bottom of the page (also see note below).


The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 protects the originator, you should not use images that you do not have permission to do so.


In addition, when an image has been copied and used multiple times, it loses quality and the image on your site becomes poor quality and looks unprofessional.

This image of ours has been ripped off many times by so called professionals purporting it to be theirs.
... and this is another one...

5. You have a copyright notice on your website, stating that you are the ©copyright owner.


You have used (I wont say 'nicked') someone else’s images, displayed them on your website and then have the gall to put a copyright notice on your site stating that you are the copyright owner. LOL! More neck than a Kayan tribes giraffe mascot.


6. You state on your website that you operate ‘ethically and lawfully’ and with the Associations Code of Practice.


Well, all that ethical nonsense goes out of the window the second you infringed copyright by using someones work without their permission.


7. It just looks so corny.


Come on folks, be original, it’s not difficult. You may think there is only so much you can do to portray a bodyguard… some guy in a suit touching his curly-wurly earpiece, or a PI holding a camera whilst overtly leaning out of a car window doesn't really cut it.


Your images need to be unique, distinctive, professional looking and have a bit of artistic flair.


After Note:


I'm not saying that you have to hire Rankin or a super expensive photographer… far from it. Nor do you need hundreds or thousands of pounds worth of kit.


Most of you are carrying around at least a £1000 camera in your back pocket already, its called a phone.


The latest phones have fantastic cameras which are well suited for the Internet. All you need is a bit of imagination, a little knowledge on composition techniques and able to tweak the images and you’re away.


If you are not confident, speak to us, this is the type of thing we enjoy doing. If you want to have a crack at it yourself, why not enrol on a short photography course.


If you wish to have unique professional images for your marketing material, please get in touch. It’s not as expensive as you think, and the images will be YOURS.


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