The Epic Guide to Lousy Stock Images

Spot the lousy stock image

…and who knows why some images are chosen…

…and who knows why some images are chosen…’s not hard to do...

Something about the fakeness of it all seems to leap out of the screen at you.

Actually, ‘leap out’ is the wrong phrase as standard stock images never leap out of screens - they don’t get attention and definitely wet your appetite for reading any further.

In a wonderful world full of exhilarating images and eye-grabbing graphics, standard stock images remain beige and vanilla

Spot the difference

Even business-type images can be jazzed up a little…

Even business-type images can be jazzed up a little…

...between an images that’s worth a second glance and something that’s worth less than a goldfish attention span moment in time to look over.

You can see the difference instantly.

In a split second you know whether an image is insipid or intriguing, lame or likeable, or bland or brilliant.

And you’re not the only one who knows this. Everyone knows this instinctively - you don’t have to analyse it even for a moment.


...or lack of that’s gone into selecting that particular image.

You can tell yourself when looking at an article whether someone has put the time, effort, and energy into something truly worth reading.

And if you know, your audience knows.

That includes spotting the obviously bog-standard stock images chosen without much thought and slapped on top of your writing to put off anyone from wanting to read on.

If the image smacks of unoriginality, then is the viewer really going to spend the extra time going to the trouble of reading any further?


Spot the frog


As this fine froggy fellow demonstrates, a striking image grabs the attention, is interesting to look at, and stands apart from standard stock images.

Don’t poison your hard-scribbled writing with a lame pic.

Get something that really hops off the screen and makes your audience spot the difference between your content and everyone elses’.

Stock Images, Stressed Workers, and Sea Monsters


In the wonderful and weird world of business stock images, one of the popular genres is stressed workers.

Maybe it’s the fact that in so many images they have to adopt perma-grins, stare intently into the prosperous business future, and be so annoyingly over-enthusiastic that has led them to being stressed out in other pictures.

Let’s take the example of Jason, who is surrounded by 101 co-workers, (well four actually, but you get the idea....) all pressing him him with things to do by yesterday.

There’s calls to answer, reports to go over, and perhaps even someone’ cat to feed. I am not sure what the cat is doing in the office, but that’s for another day....

Jason’s friend, BIll, tries to help out by offering a stress-reducing donut.....

The doughnut on top of three cans of Red Bull probably wasn’t going to help much…

The doughnut on top of three cans of Red Bull probably wasn’t going to help much…

How he is managing to stay up on the ceiling like that is anyone’s guess...

Instituting ‘bring your pet to work day’ on Fridays was turning out to be a mistake.

Instituting ‘bring your pet to work day’ on Fridays was turning out to be a mistake.

Now he’s stressed due to the fact that he’s about to become a giants squids lunch.

In a recent survey, six out of ten office workers said that being eaten by a giant sea monster would be a stressful event. The other four said that it would come as welcome relief.

In the same building as Jason’s office, is the office of John. Here he is looking stressed and flanked by two towering piles of paperwork.

He was beginning to regret blowing his last bonus on his mohican.

He was beginning to regret blowing his last bonus on his mohican.

Not only are there piles of work to do building up, but also his desk has been infested by weasels.


He always hated it when this happened.

He always hated it when this happened.

Of course, some folks would say that they have the odd rodent or two in their own office, but that they’re usually of the shirt and tie wearing variety.

Let’s move down the corridor and look in at Sheila.

The paperless office wasn’t really coming along.

The paperless office wasn’t really coming along.

 Sheila is stressed due to her messy desk.


That reminded her that she really must get around to apologising too her neighbours for what happened to their pug.

That reminded her that she really must get around to apologising too her neighbours for what happened to their pug.

Fortunately for her, her pet anaconda, Bob, has volunteered to eat the files. She is considering asking him to consume her boss as well, but is concerned that it might effect her bonus.

Finding the right stock image can be a bit of a stressful experience. Especially when you have to wade the cheesy swamp that is sometimes business stock images.

There are so many images to plough through, some of them might be actually quite good - but it might take you an age to find them.

Even if you do find a suitable image, it might be already in use on a bunch of others sites. The most commonly seen images are the ones that pop up in the first few search results. So you’re going to have to put in a bit more work if you want yourself to stand out.

One easy way of standing out is simply to have your images drawn for you.

Unique images that are tailoring specifically to suit you and your message.

You can even have pictures featuring weasels, giant squid and other such strange critters if you so desire....even such pics might not be as strange of some of the business images you can already see!

Thumbs down to crap stock images


This is Bill. He’s a character in the strange world of business stock images. A land where everyone is happy in meetings, gaze forwards to the future, or use their laptops in strange locations.

Bill is giving the thumbs up. We don’t know why he’s doing so, but he’s doing it with great enthusiasm regardless.

A lot of folks in business stock images do things that are quite difficult to explain.

....and that’s why such images can look quite unnatural...

When was the last time you saw someone actually give the thumbs up in an office, whether in real life or on TV?

Let’s look at some other examples of thumb raising folks.



 Neil kept his two thumbs up for way too long, which enabled Doris to take advantage of the situation and get him to help her with her knitting.

Now let’s take a glance at Neil’s colleague, Bob.


Bob was so bored posing for inane stock images that he created his own thumb puppets to amuse himself.

He now has 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube, a book contract, and a TV show deal. He hopes that this result in his manager noticing and offering him a promotion.

 Of course for some, ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ reminds them of scenes from gladiator movies.

Movies always make things look pretty glamorous

It was difficult back in the day...


 Roman Emperor Rigorus Spankikus once had his graphic designer exiled due to a partuculary lame PR campaign that failed to endear the Emperor to his subjects.

But spare a thought for those who can’t give either a thumbs up or down.



 It must be frustrating for weasels...

If they ever want to enter the world of business, not only do they have to develop more intelligence but also evolve opposing thumbs.

 Using run-of-the-mill business stock images might seem to be an easier option, but it might result in your readers giving your content the thumbs down or not even bothering to read it in the first place.

Our attention goes to images, and so if it looks as though not much effort and imagination has gone into selecting visuals, why bother actually reading the rest?

How about yourself?

Are you attracted by such images

What would you think of someone using them on a site or article you’re reading?

Probably not much... it’s worthwhile spending a bit of time to find some interesting images. 

Surfing By the Surf


Another one of those aspirational stock images that look a bit odd is the person using the laptop on the beach.

Here’s a woman perched on a rock working away on her laptop - maybe beavering away setting up a location independent business.

 Isn’t she concerned about getting sand in it?

Or the general rule about not letting computers get too close to water...

 However, this image doesn’t reveal the full story behind the scene…


Only half an hour later her tranquility was interrupted by a group of hungry pelicans hoping to scrounge some fish....or to get her to place an order with Uber eats...

What else might intrude on her tranquil typing?

 Or what might she be missing out on having her eyes clued to the screen while sitting in such a tranquil setting?



Suit you?

Even odder is someone wearing a business suit while working away on the beach.


This chap was either so keen to get down to work that he forgot to roll his trousers up, or so absorbed in his task that he didn’t notice the incoming tide.

Maybe he needs someone or some thing to remind him that it’s not all


 That’s a mere drop on the ocean of odd images, there’s sure to be plenty more come in with the next tide, but not necessarily any that are really relevant to your situation.

So next time you’re selecting an image to use, you might want to pause and think if it’s really suitable or whether it should released and returned to the sea of odd stock images.


 One image that popped up while researching this article was that of a business woman, in full office attire, fishing. It kind of made me curious whether she was fishing for anything in particular or had merely popped out during this lunch break for some relaxation.

Why fake stock images are bad - and what to do about it


We’ve all seen stock images that seem a bit lame, but you may not have appreciated how odd and unnatural sme of them are until you take a closer look.... might be the unnervingly bleached teeth, the business suits that look as though have just come off the rack and then been pressed a dozen times, or the ever-so perfectly organised mess.

Perfect is one word that springs to mind, everything has been so precisely and carefully organised to create a setting and models that look as though the dust never settles on them, no coffee is ever spilt, and none of those cheesy smiles ever slip.

Perhaps there exists somewhere an alternate plane of existence where people actually look like this, but I’m sure that you’ve never seen anyone resembling these characters in everyday life. I mean where are the crumbs from the coffee break cookies, the desks that look like someone has actually done some work at them, and the variety of expressions on folks faces?

It all looks a bit fake, and if it looks fake, then what does this say about the person or company that chose to use such fake-looking images?

It’s not as though there aren’t enough images to choose from.

Let’s look at a couple of examples from a business theme.

We’ll also look at how some of these images can be made more interesting by inserting a goat into the proceedings.

Almost any situation can be made more interesting by inserting a goat into it, however, for this article we’ll limit it to office settings.


 Fake image number #1 - the office team high-fiving each other.


This group of happy meeting attendees are so busy high-fiving each other that they fail to notice Gerald the Goat sneaking in to raid the fruit bowl.

Yay! Go team! They’ve obviously just achieved some important goal such as setting a new record for length of time in having their grins fixed in place.

Err....people just aren’t that happy at meetings....I mean where is the guy who is fighting to stay awake? The woman gazing off into the distance daydreaming about something to take her mind of things? The guy who is just not having a bad day....


 Fake image #2 - business people leaping in the air.


Either individually or as a team, there are lots of folks leaping about. What do the offices below make of al the commotion going on?

Why are these two jumping in the air? Is there any good reason?

Is it normal to be airborne in the office?


Now there’s a good reason to be airborne...

 Fake image #3 - person holding tablet doing work


This one usually comes with a big smile as well, rather than a look puzzlement that often comes when trying to figure out a new app.

By the way, I don’t only draw goats...geese can be equally disruptive...

Maybe these images will serve as a warning or a wake-up call not to use such images yourself.

Nobody likes things that are fake, whether it’s photos, people or goods.

You are not fake. And you certainly don’t want to come across as fake. So why use fake images?

But it’s not just about the fakeness, it’s about the fact that such pics are not much fun at all. I mean it’s hard enough to get someone’s attention in the first place, so the last thing you want to do have boring pics act as a huge damp squib to your writing.

Amusing images that compliment your writing can have a huge impact on your audience in terms of whether your message sticks around or if they share it with friends.

Finding good images though can take so doing, and certainly take a chunk of time - which is why many folks opt for the easier option of using ready to hand stock images. The trouble is, a lot of those images have already been used by others, as well as the before mentioned fakery associated with such images.

So it would be great if you could have an easy-to-hand source of fun and eye-catching images to use.

Cartoons would be a neat alternative - quirky amusing ones, like the pics above. where do such cartoons lurk? 

‘Well, you could try using a cartoonist.


Do You Gaze Past Stock Images?

(Or Using Monsters in Marketing)


 One of the more perplexing and unnatural business stock image genres is that of the person or persons staring off into the future.

Often these folks have semi-mystical look on the face,  no doubt enraptured by future business glories laying ahead. Alternatively, they sport an inane grin, perhaps as as a result of thinking ahead to what they’ll get up to after work.

Such folks can be found either inside the office or outside, sometimes in front of an impressive building or on a street corner.

Don’t they ever get cautioned for loitering?

Let’s look at a couple of examples.


 These pair of business bods were so busy gazing off into the future that they were completely obvious to the present moment and thus failed to notice Vognor the Terrible alighting upon the top of their office building.


This chap paused while crossing a bridge to fixate on some vision of tomorrow, Perhaps the river inspired him to stop and ponder what might lie upstream in life.



Unfortunately for him, one of Vognor’s fellow monsters, Krakus the Lamentable, was very much focused on the present moment and what to have for lunch.


 These three colleagues are peering so far ahead that they need binoculars...which won’t help them much against Gladys the Flatulent(not all monsters have terrible sounding names) who is creeping up behind them..

It’s not a good idea to spend too much time in the future at the expense of the present moment.

Nor is it a good idea to use cheesy stock images that look as though you haven’t put much thought or effort into them. Your readers will likely gaze on past your content if they see too many lame images.

So it pays to spend a bit more time and attention when choosing images, so that your readers will spend a bit more time and attention on your content. 

On brief cases and the battle of Hastings


If Gerald can’t work out the combination lock then he’ll probably just eat his way through the case…

Another delve into the weird and wonderful world of business stock images.

Time to take a look at the business man or woman’s weapon of choice - the briefcase.

‘Man with briefcase/clutching briefcase’ is one of those sub-genres of odd business stock images. Sometimes they’re hanging onto the case for dear life…

Hold on there!


Here’s a man clutching a briefcase. Is he using it to ward off an assailant’s weapon?

Fortunately Harold has remembered to bring along his battle-plan, carried as ever in his trusty briefcase.

Fortunately Harold has remembered to bring along his battle-plan, carried as ever in his trusty briefcase.

Perhaps if King Harold had had a briefcase at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, then he wouldn’t have been struck by an arrow and the Anglo-Saxons might have repelled the Norman Invasion.


It could have turned out very differently for William and Normans…he might have been forced to re-train as a sales rep instead of completing the invasion of Britain.

Are you still clutching onto using dodgy stock images?


For want of a better image your entire article could be rescued.

Not that there:s anything wrong with your article, post, or writing in general - it’s just that people won’t bother reading it if you are using tired old stock images.

Even a business person holding a briefcase can be livened up with that personal touch…

…this may the first time that a Dalmatian has appeared in a business stock image.

…this may the first time that a Dalmatian has appeared in a business stock image.

…this may be the first time that a Dalmatian has appeared in a ‘business stock image’…

Get On The Case

…and use some images that really go with your writing and help to raise your reader’s curiosity about what you have to say.

I’ll keep it brief

I draw lots of cartoons - some silly and others not. I can draw unique images for you too. These pictures can really capture what you have to say, as well as capturing your reader’s attention. It also makes your site or post a lot more fun to look at!

I can liven things up a bit.

Let’s be a bit more creative...

From stodgy to stock to imaginative images - I can do the same for you. Drop me a mail.