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Creating Media's Top 5 Sins of Stock Photography
Author: Victoria Jones

Ah stock photography. Some people see it as a useful tool, others as a necessary evil, and still others as something to avoid altogether. Here at Creating Media, we do prefer to use clients own photography where possible (or even take photos for our clients ourselves!) but sometimes a bit of stock photography is actually better to use – but use with caution!

There are some amazing examples out there, but for every great stock image you can guarantee a dozen horrible clichés… these are some of our top stock photography no-nos!

  1. Keyboards
    You have an abstract concept that you just don’t know how to express? Odds are, there is a stock photo somewhere with the word as a random key. It doesn’t make sense, and it generally doesn’t actually mean anything. Stop using it. The same goes for letter blocks and calculators. Just stop.
  2. People in suits and hardhats and paper

    The furrowed brow, the pointing finger. The inexplicably clean and well-turned-out builders. The entire situation is completely unbelievable, right down to the bad acting.
  3. TERRIFYINGLY white teeth

    When did you ever see a family with such white teeth? All smiling and laughing simultaneously? Probably giving each other piggybacks or lolling around in a featureless white room? I mean, even the dog has white teeth in that one example!
  4. Happy couples that are way too happy

    I’m not saying that couples can’t be happy. Romance certainly isn’t dead. But I have never been so overcome with love and joy that I have found myself unable to remove my hands from the sky. And if stock photography sites are to be believed, women with boyfriends never walk anywhere – they just get piggybacks.
  5. 3D man

    Ah, 3D man. My personal bugbear. He has had so many adventures – architect by day, postman by slightly later that day, accountant by afternoon, propping up various oversized symbols by night. How does he find time to do it all? He even manages to commit some of other stock photography sins in some sort of bizarre super-cliché. Please, just don’t ever use him. In anything. Ever.


So there are our top 5 ‘don’ts’. It may make it sound like we don’t actually like stock photography, but it can actually be brilliant if used carefully! Just hink about why you need the picture, what you want it to say. Chances are, you want it to represent your business. So use something that could believeably be taken at your business – no dodgy 3D renders or families that are so fake it hurts. Ask yourself ‘could this picture actually be of my business?’ if the answer is no, keep looking. There are thousands of stock photos on line, chances are you’ll find one that fits!

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