Stock Photo Cliches – Are stock photos destroying the net?

Stock photos are a great resource for web designers, they save us time and money while also providing photographers and and models with much needed work. They are a practical and cheap answer to the question every web designer asks themselves; “Where do I get images from?” Even though stock images are a much needed resource for designers, it seems as though they have had a negative impact on the internet in the form of Stock Photo Cliches.

What do I mean by Stock Photo Cliches? Well, there are a relatively small bunch of very popular stock photos that have been used on numerous websites all over the internet. It seems like nearly every corporate business firm has the same bunch of glossy, airbrushed, young models on their websites. The same stock photos have been used on so many websites that they have become a cliche. Some of these stock photo models could be considered internet celebrities they have been downloaded so many times.

Here are just a few examples of stock photo cliches. Do these faces look familiar?




Well, I must admit that I too have used some of these cliched images simply because it was what the client requested and it was easy. So how do we as Web Designers reverse this trend that is slowly flooding the internet? We have a few options; We can take our own photos, hire a reasonably priced photographer, or simply take care when selecting stock images to make sure we don’t use images that have already been downloaded thousands of times before.

Hopefully with a bit of effort from all of us, the images on websites across the net will become more unique and have more credibility. At least your own portfolio of websites will look different to the rest.

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Adham Dannaway

Web Designer and Front End Developer with a passion for web design, coding, blogging, WordPress and chewing gum. Check out my web design portfolio and follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

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  1. nut on August 19, 2009

    it will be cool if a designer can take his own photos and maybe photoshop them…then use them only on his website….

    maybe we should start learning some photography

  2. Richard - Accessibleweb on August 19, 2009

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say that the good thing about a cliched stock photo is that we are so attuned to it that it doesn’t detract from the important content of functions of a web page.

  3. Will on August 20, 2009

    @nut: excellent idea, I’m waiting to see Ham in his website 🙂

    God all those memory is back, building up the banners by using those faces…-_-b

  4. zokz on January 14, 2010

    im am so sick of seeing the call centre chick in every pic on and on brochures argh.. give me some damn variety already haha

  5. Joseph McCullough on February 4, 2010

    Ugh, I absolutely HATE the suit in the field, more than I hate the word “Solutions” (And I really hate that word). It’s just, ugh, sickeningly overdone, and it means absolutely nothing. To me, it signifies that the designer is taking themselves too seriously, and is only going to attract clients that take themselves too seriously also. Excuse me, I need to go rinse the horrid taste out of my mouth. Excellent post.

  6. Briongloid on March 26, 2010

    I can take call centre chic to a point, because as other commentators said, it’s a pretty standard shot and you will, at least once in your career, be asked for it.

    If you go on shutterstock or dreamstime or wherever there are actually thousands of different ones out there, some better than others, but at least you’ll be able to see how many were downloaded. If one has thousands of downloads maybe it’s best you avoid it.

    Anyways, here’s my personal hated stock cliché that I’ve been asked to use many, many times: Green grass/golden sand and blue sky in the background and random white idiots in the foreground leaping into the air for no discernible reason.

    10 extra BS points if you get an entire family of gormless idiots to do it and another 50 if you can get them all to do it above a emerald green grassline with a tacky, unconvincing Photoshop water reflection effect running underneath.

    “Come on now Junior, I want you to jump higher this time. Who knows, perhaps when you become a teenager this photo might feature on some embarrassing advertising material scarring you for life whilst earning this frustrated photographer enough to buy some baked beans. Okay, are you ready, one, two three…
    …GOOOOO FAMILY!!!!!”

    Meanwhile ten guys in suits line up to get their field shots done just behind the woman on a remote hill pretending she can read her laptop screen in the midday sun.

    …Stock photo clichés, you gotta love ’em!

  7. Cre8ive Commando on March 29, 2010

    Thanks for the comments guys 🙂

    @Briongloid – I like your “BS points” grading system. LOL



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