Stock Art for Science? Just Say No

Being in the business of designing websites for healthcare and life science companies, we often run up against the issue of stock photography. With extremely few exceptions, we urge clients to stay away from it. We believe that original, high-quality photography is well worth the investment.

Here’s why: We’re creative people—and so are our clients. But stock art? It’s pretty much the opposite of originality.

Sure, it’s fast and cheap. But it lacks realism and diversity, presenting an image that doesn’t reflect our values as a communications agency or the values of the amazing companies we represent. We’d even go so far as to say that most of the stock art we see today is belittling: scientists breaking OSHA rules, doctors behaving unprofessionally, patients falling into lazy stereotypes.

Not only that, but the few quasi-acceptable stock photos and graphics are predictably overused across the science and healthcare industry. So if you’re going to use stock art, you’ve got to be sure your competitor isn’t using it, too.

To punctuate our point, here’s an inside look at some of the science and healthcare images circulating in the stock art world right now. (Yes, it’s OK to laugh. In fact, it may be inevitable.)

1. Experimenting with color. He may be wearing a lab coat, but where are his safety goggles and gloves? We can only guess his experiment calls for mixing very safe red and blue liquids to see what happens. Our hypothesis: purple.

2. Speaking of OSHA violations… How to pass time while your test tubes of colored water are settling? Why not check Facebook on your hot pink smartphone (which conveniently matches your eye makeup) and sip on some coffee? The former scientists who work at CanaleComm have seen some crazy things in the lab, but nothing quite as crazy as this.


3. We have absolutely nothing against Gen Y. In fact, we love Gen Y and want more of them in healthcare and science. But seriously, when did Justin Bieber become a doctor?

4. Patient-doctor bonding. There’s a lot to be said for the power of eye contact. But we have a hard time envisioning any patient or doctor being able to relate to this awkward arm-in-arm photo.

5. At least she’s wearing goggles and gloves. But the rainbow assortment of liquids and bottles of poorly-labeled chemicals make our scientists cringe. Actually, it makes all of us cringe.

6. Thumbs up for healthcare. But a big thumbs down for this terribly staged happy-patient picture.

7. We have no idea. Absolutely no idea what this is supposed to convey. Just please don’t try this at home.

Hopefully we’ve proved our point. Stay away from stock photography unless you’re trying to be insulting, alienating or funny. And invest in some original imagery that will do justice in depicting the science, innovation and healthcare that your company is known for.

Canale Communications ©2021