The lesson: Bad photos don't work... Generic stock photos don't work... People ignore them.
We are assaulted by bad photos every day... everywhere you look your eyes are pelted with crappy stock photography and low-quality original trash. So guess what happens...? you begin to ignore them... they become part of the muddled cyber landscape of which you pay no attention.
Look at Jacob Nielson's eye-tracking study below. That is a Yale webpage with a terribly generic and rather poor (sorry shooter) image of students and laptops... now look at the blue dots that represent what the viewer payed attention too. See any blue dots on the photo? Nope!
I wish that Jacob had done the same study of the same page but inserted a high-quality, stylized portrait of a real student on the real Yale campus... I'd bet my supper that you'd see blue dots all over it.
Moral of this story? From Jacob Nielson himself, "Invest in good photo shoots: a great photographer can add a fortune to your website's value."
Solution: Hire me!!! I am a professional commercial, editorial, portrait and documentary photographer; I'm based in Asheville, North Carolina, but I've got a truck and I love to travel!