Cliches in Stock Photography

As explored in previous posts, I spend a fair amount of time looking up interesting and unique stock photos to help start up businesses represent their brand. However, in my research I have also noticed that there are some very odd repeat occurrences in some of the images that I find – patterns of images that I can’t my head around why they are a) so popular or b) in what scenario they would be used. Let’s explore some of these now – some which I am sure you are already aware of, and some perhaps that might be news to you.

(for example I am sure you have seen this girl around. Her name is Rebecca Adrian Givens and she is the most used stock photo woman – she is EVERYWHERE. I will be using some of her photos to illustrate these points. For more info on her – visit

Happy Women With Salads
Women in general have a lot of pressure on them to look slim, and these images are enforcing this ridiculous idea that by only eating a salad that you can also look like these stock photo models. This image is overused and generally symbolises the notion that all women need to do is to eat salads forever to look like Kate Moss. Perhaps that even smiling at the salad will help us forget that we are hungry. I guess that most of these images are promoting health or dieting, but I see this image so much that it is beginning to give me a headache and has all but lost it’s meaning. There are other ways to represent this that are far more original, such as baskets of veggies or having a meal out with a balanced dish and a salad. At least this hasnt been shot on a white background, with a woman smiling demented at a bowl of greens as if her life depended on it, and it shows some kind of humanity and enjoyment.

This is a better alternative – look how natural this is…

Hands Reaching Out From Computers
Many of these models look horrified that hands are menacingly reaching out from their comfy home or work computer – and to be fair I would also be terrified. I can’t understand why this half man half machine imagery has become so popular with businesses but I think it looks quite dated as well as no longer making much sense. It presents as someone who wanted to have a play around with Photoshop and discovered the Lasso tool. I think most of these images are mostly used to represent the concept of buying online, or to show you that people can steal from you via ID Fraud. If this is the case, I think there are much better ways to do this – for example using illustrations coming out of the computer which would look a lot more refined and more up to date. I think there was a time in the early 2000’s when images like this were all the rage… but come on guys, there are better ways to show this now.

This is a better alternative – icons or images are more classy

Too Many Buzzwords for Websites
I also happen to think that this looks very circa 1999 – no matter how well designed they are. Buzzwords – who reads all of them? Even when you cram them together in various ways with a typographical genius I still think barely anyone will read them. The only use I can see for buzzwords is to have a few large words which are part of the brand being printed and showcased on an  office wall, either as inspiration to help you think of new ideas to to remind everyone of the company’s core values. However, I see this being used in websites far too much, and if I had seen this I would instantly go find another site that doesn’t try to bombard me with meaningless office talk in order to get my attention. Copy in a website should be able to do this. However if you simply MUST have buzzwords or a list it is more up to date to represent this with icons, and adds colour and character to your website.

This is a better alternative –
represent buzzwords with icons