The Tale of Bad Stock Photos and How to Avoid Them

A quality photo is just as important (if not more) as a quick and witty headline in today’s media. The more engaging your image is, the more click-throughs, likes, loves and wows (*eye roll* thanks a lot Facebook… all we wanted was a “dislike” button) your post will receive. I mean, that’s the end game right? More viewership and loyalty. So, picking the right image is paramount.

As a designer, I’ve become very familiar with the phrase: A picture is worth a 1,000 words. And that might very well be true, but when your options are limited for a project and you have to resort to stock images to fill the gap – well sometimes those 1,000 words can turn to mockery. If you’ve scanned through any stock image gallery lately you know exactly what I mean, but allow me to show you a few gems just for fun.

 

Young cheerful sporty attractive woman doing fitness training, exercises for hips and buttocks with office chair, full length isolated studio image on white background

Search term: “Exercise”

I don’t know about you, but I love to get up every morning, walk into my big white room and stretch using a folding chair. Yes.

 

stock2_519503846_ef893bd63dd02

Search term: “Collaboration”

The woman in the black is all like: “Kathy, I’m sick of looking at your cat photos. This isn’t even your cat.”

 

Businesswoman with the phone in the office

Search term: “Productivity”

Let me just be productive by avoiding this meeting to be on my phone inside this all glass room.

 

Communication concept

Search term: “Communication”

Let’s pretend for a minute that this illustration isn’t the definition of Clipart and just look at the concept: someone is thinking about communicating about communication? This is like… communication INCEPTION! My brain hurts – what year is it?!

stock6_519653774_de268a907721e

Search term: “Teamwork”

This might say teamwork to some, but to me it says, “HR situation in the making.”

Now I’m not trying to bag on Thinkstock – they’re just trying to provide people like me with images that at least “sort of” work for your needs. Just remember sometimes you have to dig a little to find the actual gems in the ocean of free images. Here’s a few attributions I look for when choosing stock photography.

  • Vibrant colors
  • Clear subject
  • Image appears to have depth

Staying on-trend is always important as well. Here are a few trends to keep in mind for 2016:

  • Images covered in a gradient. Images with washed-out exposure (Ex. Newspaper-y tone).
  • Top down shots (Ex. Looking down at a desk where everything is nicely laid out – people with OCD LOVE these photos.).
  • Big, open shots with a small subject. These are meant to make you feel serene. Super close-up images (Ex. Someone’s eyes and the bridge of their nose.).
  • You can’t always find these things in a photo, but use your best judgment and take into consideration the work the photo will be representing.