Let's stop using bad stock photos

I really don’t like stock photography. It looks bland, it looks unprofessional, and above all else it’s cheesy. If anybody ever created a global set of rules to govern the internet, it would be to vote a ban on stock imagery. Designers, let’s all get together and stop using bad stock photos.

Bad stock photos

There is a saying that goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, and in today’s very visual-heavy, online world, images are more important than they have ever been before. But, a picture isn’t worth a thousand words if you use tacky stock photography to try and get your visual message across.

You know the ones I’m referring too; they are either bland photos of mildly content people doing boring things, or extremely excited people with stupid massive smiles. My favourite are the business images, good looking people all dressed in their suits smiling around a computer.

Below is a list of the worst offenders.

1. Surreal stock photos

Surreal stock photos are the ones that don’t make any sense, they try to be arty or funny. For example it could be a businessman standing in a field holding balloons, or perhaps a busy person with post-it notes stuck all over their face. A person with six arms is a freak, irrespective of how happy they look.

bad-stock-photos- (2)Then there are those surreal ones where somebody is forming a heart with their hands whilst the sun shines through them which can be found in use on the website of practically every single natural therapy business in existence. It has been done to death, let’s find something new. How is a business ever going to stand apart if they use all the same photos.

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Or what about when when you see a beautiful woman eat a salad, and it’s literally the funniest thing she has ever done?


2. Group stock photos

Group shots are always so diverse, that they only act to draw your attention to how gender. ethnically and age diverse the photo is. They feature a man, a woman, a young person, an old person, a black person, a white person and an Asian person. These are all over the internet, you can tell a mile away they are stock photos.

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The groups used in stock photos are always way happy. What about a smiling tradesperson giving the thumbs up, this tells you that they will do a brilliant job, and are completely trustworthy. Nothing signifies trust more than a tradesperson giving a thumbs up.

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Then there’s construction workers laughing over their site plans, I find building plans pretty hilarious also.


Then theres the group shots of people jumping in the air with their arms outstretched for some unknown reason. I have never put on a suit before and lept into the air with an idiotic grin on my face. Have you?

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3. Business stock photos

Business stock photography is the worst of the worst. It always features generic business people who are ready to do business things.

Any business using these photos should have their HR department investigated because they only seem to hire ridiculously good looking models who’ve spent far too much money whitening their teeth.

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I love the photos of business people shaking hands, these are probably the most over used stock photos on the internet because that’s what business people do, they shake hands. I spend my entire day where I do nothing other than shake peoples hands.


Then there’s the happy business people in a meeting who look like somebody just said the funniest joke. It’s physically impossible for people to be having that much fun in a meeting because meetings are not fun. I know the meetings I have attended are not as fun as the one in this picture.

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What about the pump fist! Don’t forget about the business people crowded around a computer screen all pumping their fists in the air like they just don’t care.


And finally, my favourite! customer support. The gorgeous secretary staring at us, it’s critical to show an attractive and friendly customer support woman wearing a phone headset.

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Stop using stock photography

The reason why a lot of websites use typical cliche stock photography is because their business doesn’t have strong imagery associated with it. Instead of investing their money into the image of their business, they take the interpretation of what they do. Thats why so many corporate businesses must use dull and cliche stock photos of people wearing suits shaking hands.

Instead of resorting to stock images, hire a professional photographer. A great photo is an opportunity for you to showcase the character of your business. You may not be as pretty, but you’re real.

Interesting images are worth more than just a thousand words… It adds value to your business and more importantly, it will stop you from looking tacky and unprofessional.