A distinction is often made in research literature between “societal” images (non-documentary, illustrative stock images) and “documentary” images (Photographs that were documented for the purpose of telling the story and/or representing an actual event as it happened)“. Norton (2012, p.17) states that “Although illustrative or stock imagery is often used in publications for aesthetic reasons, as a story telling element, it lacks the credibility that the documentary image holds because it has been staged or manipulated, and therefore does not provide an accurate representation of an event that happened”. Norton goes on to say:
To further clarify, societal images are set up, contrived, illustrative, or directed situations that hold no credible merit due to their very nature. Another way to describe a societal image would be a photograph that was “made” rather than “taken.” In ethical journalism practice, the disclosure of such imagery is required so that the viewer is aware the situation was contrived and not found.