Are these the cheesiest stock images ever?

Stock photographs are a valuable tool for a web designer. They can help to fill in those gaps where clients are lacking their own authentic photographs. They can also illustrate a tricky concept without you needing to spend hours creating something bespoke.

But amidst the wheat there is definitely a lot of chaff with some contributors to stock picture libraries really going overboard on the cringe factor.

Here are eight images we've selected to illustrate just how bad stock images can be. Could these even be the cheesiest stock images on the internet?

1. Work is just so fulfilling


Who would have thought that working in a call centre could be so rewarding? This employee is the picture of health with glowing skin, glittering eyes and a radiant smile.

2. Walk in fields of gold


Nothing says 'happy' quite like sunflowers so where better to stage a romantic stroll than through a field of them. Add a bit of haze effect for that perfect – if completely cheesy – summer love vibe.

3. The perfect family


Gorgeous mum, handsome dad, healthy, happy kids (one boy, one girl) – yes, it's the perfect family stock shot. If you want your customers to believe you and your brand you have to give them images with which they can connect. Few families will relate to this idyllic image.

4. Lookin' mean bro innit!


This trio may have the baggy trousers, tattoos, beanie hats and a deadpan expression but we don't get the feeling they will be hanging around that subway at night.

5. Told you we were happy!


Where do we start with cheesy business photographs? Whether they're standing in dynamic formation, gathered productively around a whiteboard, high-fiving each other or simply looking happy and focused, stock businesspeople are the masters of cheese.

We've chosen this one because of the effort gone into collecting so much cheese together in one place.

6. Don't you just love Fridays?


We're not totally clear whether the intention was to introduce the concept of freedom, lightness and joy – or to create the world's most bizarre scarecrow. Either way, the end result was pure stock photo cheese.

7. The computer hacker


This is either a hacker stealing information from your business or someone suffering from severe short-sightedness. We're surprised they left out the obligatory Matrix-esque ones and zeros though.

8. Attack of the emoticons


Somebody once had a great idea. Use emojis as masks to symbolise what you're feeling inside. Unfortunately, the idea has been copied so much that it comes across as cheesy and uninspired. Real people with real emotions will always win the day when it comes to human connection.

There is a better way: Four steps for working with stock images

How can you make use of photographs without falling into the cheese trap?

Here are four top tips for getting the most out of your next trip to the stock library:

1. Choose consistent images

Rather than try and force different styles of image together, it is worth spending some time selecting images that are similar to one another. If you're lucky you may come across a particular photographer who uses a consistent approach to their image composition.

2. Choose authentic over attractive

We have been conditioned to think that sex sells and that only the most gorgeous girls and guys can sell our products. However, the truth is that customers tend to value natural images over blatantly artificial ones. Next time you need an office image, consider snapping your actual team (if you give them a few days' warning, you might be surprised at how well some of them scrub up!)

3. Make use of colour search tools

Most search engines and stock libraries will have a colour search function. This tool is ideal for picking images that align with your brand colours and/or with each other.

4. Treat your images before publication

It is amazing how easily you can adjust images, using Photoshop filters and other tools, to make them look unique to your brand. By applying consistent treatments, your stock images can blend in with the rest of the visuals on your site for a seamless final product.

Used well, stock photographs can help to strengthen your brand rather than damage it so it is worth putting maximum time and effort into the selection process.

Topic: Graphic design

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