I'm a huge fan of not using stock photography. For so many reasons. The first is that one way to set your brand apart from your competitors is by not using the same images. Sounds simple. But with so many stock agencies out there, as well as people not in design or marketing who are pulling images that they have not licensed off the web, it's become a free for all. Not to mention companies selling logos for $5 (which really isn't an issue for my clients, but it degrades the entire design industry), I'm a huge advocate of working with a professional photographer and creating original work. Of course, anyone with an iphone also thinks they can shoot, but again, that's for another discussion.
This time, let's look at stock photography. Images that you can purchase without restrictions. It's an opportunity for stock agencies to make a lot of money. No restrictions on how an image is used and where it shows up. So let's say you want to do an ad campaign in print. You need a photo of a specific person. A specific gender. Age. Ethnicity. Maybe she needs to be dressed a certain way. She needs to look approachable. Smart. Well, maybe you found her. The problem is, so did 10 other businesses. I suppose it's a lesson in buyer beware. Because you can't be unique if everyone looks the same.