You can’t be too careful with stock photos.

One wonders how much time the Birmingham City Council – of England – has spent actually out and about in their own city, after the council authorized and issued a brochure bearing a picture of Birmingham – Alabama.
The British city fathers tried the old “we were just looking for something generic” excuse, but that sounded pretty lame, given they were praising their citizens for recycling efforts. Surely they had a nice shot of their town someplace?
It’s a cautionary tale for those of us who use stock photos. Consumer Reports readers often point out instances where the same stock image has been used for similar, or even competing, products and services. I know I have seen the woman in the center probably 10 times over the past few years, advertising jewelry, cosmetics and face lifts.
Some years ago, at another company, we were asked to do a story on a client’s newest acquisition – a mortgage processing firm. The acquisition’s corporate brochure had a cover photo of those lovely Victorian homes in San Francisco known as “the Painted Ladies.” Upon close examination, it was clear there was a guy in his Fruit-of-the-Looms standing in a window. We never told the client, since the brochure was dumped right after the acquisition.