Stop Failing at Photo Selection- Healthcare Marketing

Stop Failing at Photo Selection

Did you notice the woman in the photo above? Probably not. Take another look. It’s very unlikely you’ve met her. But she looks familiar, right?

If you’ve ever seen a senior-targeted ad for a hospital, health plan, drug or gym – and we all have – you’ve seen her. She’s a busy lady … through the magic of stock photography.


Here she is being a healthy senior in New Jersey.



Here she is meditating in San Francisco.












And here she is walking in Virginia.












The cover of this magazine shows her staying “warm,” which seems like an odd thing to worry about in Las Vegas.

She also appears on the website of every major health insurance company as well as hundreds of hospitals and doctor offices, the AARP and much more. The woman is always happy, healthy and active – and often in the company of various handsome men.

Do you think they ever get jealous of each other?

I don’t want to ruin her stock photo model career; it seems to be going very well. But come on: How is using a picture of her going to help your next campaign stand out?

I know you don’t always have the budget for a custom photo shoot. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to improve the results you get from stock photography.


These tips can also help you avoid images that may have been used by your competition or that may be associated with activities that are misaligned with your brand. Do you really want the same model as the casino, strip club or shady lawyer down the road?

Try these ideas the next time you need images:

  1. Always look for the newest images available. All of the stock photo websites have a “New” button that will sort images for you. Use it.
  1. Do a reverse lookup using Google image search ( This tool will help you see who else has used the image you’re considering. Dragging and dropping the magazine cover shown above results in 103 matches. That exact image has been used online to promote dentistry, financial services, ED, data analytics, insurance, reverse mortgages, online dating and a lot more. And that’s just online use. Imagine how many times it’s been used in print, outdoor and TV advertising.
  1. Consider unconventional sources for photos. Many major universities and historical societies maintain massive image archives – many of which are in the public domain or available for purchase. The University of Louisville in my hometown has approximately 2 million such images in its collection ( Maybe someone in your town or your client’s town does, too.
  1. Look at government organizations. Millions of images are available from such sources. For example, The National Park Service has beautiful nature photos – both vintage and modern – at The National Archives is another amazing resource (

Let’s be honest: This takes a lot more effort than just typing two adjectives and a noun into the search engine of your favorite stock photo site and picking the first thing you see. But this extra effort is worth it. You’ll end up with distinctive, compelling campaigns instead of ho-hum predictable ones. And isn’t that always the goal?

For help making your next healthcare marketing campaign less “ho-hum” and more “holy smokes!,” call Wax Communications at (305) 350-5700 or visit