Top 5 Most Useless Stock Images

Stock images are funny old things. They make it possible for people to use high quality images for little or no cost, and when they’re used properly they can add real value to a piece of writing or marketing collateral. Some images, like the one we’ve used for today’s cover photo, can even bring beauty to people’s lives. But stock images do have their drawbacks. Some images are so useful that they appear everywhere, which can be very embarrassing for a company – the marketing equivalent of turning up to a party in the same outfit as somebody else. And while the image itself can become too recognisable, so too can a model that appears in too many successful campaigns, which is exactly what happened in the interesting case of Rebecca Givens.

Perhaps the biggest problem with using stock images however is that they tend to be very generic, and that is part of the reason we always recommend commissioning photography whenever possible. The other part of the reason is that they make for good owned assets and you have exclusive use of the images. Finding an image that relates closely to what you’re working on isn’t always easy, and so in this week’s Cadence blog we’d like to celebrate some of the images we’ve found that are so specific that they are, in effect, completely useless. Here are five of our favourite stock images that we’ve come across during our journey through the enchanted world of stock imagery over the last few months.

“Kosovo Flag Wooden Sign”

The perfect image for when you’re illustrating a surrealist piece of writing about the railway network of the Western Balkans. Even within the context of stock photography this is a strange one; nowhere in the world do railways use signs featuring the flag rather than the name of the country. Perhaps political considerations have made this bespoke solution more attractive. Either way, this is one stock image you’re unlikely to ever see in the wild.


“Business People With Arms Raised”

There are really only two situations in which it’s appropriate to use this image. The first is if you are writing a piece about ridiculous stock images. The second is if you are publicising a business where this sort of madness actually take place. The people depicted in the image are either being compelled to celebrate or they’re doing it spontaneously. In both cases it makes for a truly unsettling image.


“Man eating corn flakes”

Putting together a piece on cereal addiction? This could be the perfect image, notwithstanding the fact that the addict seems to be in peak physical condition, has a glamorous girlfriend and has a flat that few could even dream of. Even if he’s only at the very beginning of his downward spiral into maize dependency, the image is nevertheless a chilling one. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that, rather than the corn flakes mentioned in the name of the piece, the subject actually appears to be eating an entire bowl of mixed nuts. If you can think of a reasonable use of this image why not tweet it to us?


“Businessman bribing partner”

Bribery is one of humanity’s most pervasive and enduring problems, with little good to be said for it. In light of this fact it’s difficult to see how this image could be of any use to anybody. Too sincere to be intentionally funny, and too ridiculous to be used in a news story, it is potentially the most useless image on this list. And it’s on a black background…


“Stack of Zebra Reaching To Eat Apple”

Answers on a postcard!

We hope you enjoyed reading some of our thoughts on stock images. We regularly blog on subjects ranging from communication to technology to culture, and all kinds of other things in between. Cadence delivers bespoke communication and marketing solutions to some of the biggest names in global business, and offers a range of services that can be tailored to suit any budget. Get in touch on 020 7043 8847 to see what we can do for you. See you next time!

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