Why does it make so much sense?
I believe it comes from the material design trend and storytelling. People want to connect with a business on a personal level, see the people behind it and their story, the story of the brand and its product or service. Generic clip-art images not only do nothing to help with this, they are actually harmful. Your website visitors want to feel it is real, so the images, photos, and videos have to be real; there is no way around it.
What is an authentic or genuine image exactly?
Web design is a highly visual discipline, it heavily relies on images. Images help visitors to interact with your website. It is logical to come to a conclusion that all the images should serve the purpose of drawing in a user. An authentic or genuine image, which looks and feels real, is the best way to draw in users.
An authentic image not only looks and feels real, it correlates with your business message.
An authentic image does not necessarily mean a custom one. You can use good stock images just as well. It does not have to be realistic either. A great cartoon, custom created to deliver your specific message, can feel more authentic than a realistic image or photo.
Genuine images are the ones that resonate with your audience. Your website visitors relate to these images, see themselves in them, and feel like they are a part of what you promote, or want to deliver with the images. Authentic images are a part of your story, they convey emotion, and do not look staged.
Where do you get genuine images?
It’s fairly easy to decide you need to have only authentic images on your website, but where do you actually get them? It does not have to be too hard.
The obvious solution is to hire a professional photographer/videographer. Or become one yourself. Once you have such a person on staff, you can employ them to take photos of your team members, work process, offline location of your business, etc. If you don’t think your office is pretty enough you can always find a cool co-working place to take a few pictures.
If you sell something - take pictures of your products. But be creative, don’t take pictures only of the products, show how a person interacts with them, how they should be used, etc.
Another awesome way to get genuine images of your products is by getting them from your customers. Simply ask them to submit their photos; you can integrate an Instagram mosaic for this purpose. This is a fun interaction your customers will surely appreciate.
When you or your professional photographer take these photos, you need to remember they need to fit the goal of your website, correlate with your message, and basically, tell your story.