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I've been toying with the idea of using stock photos on my website but it always bothered me that their smiles looked plastic. Its fake to use models to represent your company when they don't actually work for you.

This webpage hilariously (and often rudely) mocks the use of stock photography on corporate websites:

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This is why you should always use lemurs on your corporate site. Lemurs never flash fake smiles and are always sincere (in their quest for tasty nuts and grubs.)
I wouldn't worry. Do you think that people in advertisements for Walmart or "what-ever-store-on-the-face-of-this-planet" are working from them? Well except for the purpose of the advertisement?

If so that would mean that Kelloggs employ 5 years olds in the midwest, and it would make Jack in the box hire people with insanely big heads made out of plastic. But hey I am am all for equal opportunity employers...

The point is that if you take their picture and make it seem like they work for portrait or some random person, then call her Jenny, 35, PhD in Astrophysics, does our CSS etc, then it is disingenuous...otherwise your worst problem would be:

1. Potential clients recognize the pic from a lot of websites,
2. Having a pics of person / people is often sign of a small company that tries hard to make an impression of being bigger than they are
3. The model, Jenny, 35 used in the stock photo goes on a killing rampage and has her picture spread all over and your clients sees her, and recognizes her from your site...

Otherwise no problem. Few people are willing to pay out for custom pics and models professionally done.
I think that your post has altered the way that I view these stock photos permanently. For instance, when I see this ad, I can't help but imagine that the guy was so stoned that he forgot to brush his hair.

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