It seems to me too much emphasis is being placed on looking pretty without actually offering an easy way to navigate to important pages or relevant content. Although a site doesn't want to look too dated can we go back to providing stuff people are looking for rather than huge, pretty graphics please?
There are certainly times when it's appropriate to do full studio photo shoots, but they can be costly. Frequently there are really good resources that people have already created and made available either for sale or by using Creative Commons licensing, as you can observe on Flickr or other places. The private sector has embraced this.
So when should you and when shouldn't you?