Bad Stock Photos Are Hurting Our Eyes and Possibly Your Business

With the recent article over at AdWeek, we thought this would be a great time to talk about bad stock images. We kind of, sort of, hate them. Just like with bad jokes, there’s a time and place and there are some that are better than others.

Here’s an example. The photos below are both stock photos. Let’s pretend you see both of these photos appear in your news feed on social media. Both of these photos are the header photo on blog posts about landing contracts with clients. Which blog post would you click on based on these two photos, and which guy would you trust the most?

blog-art_trust (1)

The imagery that represents your company affects page hits, social media shares, retention, and more. If it’s cheesy or impersonal, that all reflects poorly on your business.

Check out AdWeek’s advice if you are using stock photos for your company:

1. Is it emotionally authentic? Is that excitement about job searching convincing?

2. Is it happening in a real place? Like an office. How many stock photos have we seen of nurses hanging out, arms crossed in white space. Where are they? Not in real life.

3. Do these people look convincing? Or do they just look like stock photo models?

Now that AdWeek has given us some pointers for identifying bad stock photos, where do we find them?

Here at Staffing Robot, we use a couple of sites where images are free and eye-catching in a positive way.

Death To The Stock Photo

Freelance photographers send subscribers a folder of 10-12 downloadable free images. I save a folder of these and check back whenever I need a new photo. One batch recently was even office-themed. For $10 per month, you can access the complete photo archive.


Creative Commons images available from Ryan McGuire of Bells Design for free and completely free of copyright restrictions. New photos added weekly.


Huge database of photos available to be used for creative projects or for sharing.


A lot of flickr users have chosen to make their work available under a Creative Commons license, and a lot of the photos are truly stunning.

IM Free

IM Free via IM Creator offers a curated collection of free photos from photographers which have been approved for commercial use.

Still having trouble finding photos? Get Creative.

Sometimes you’ll write about something like Twitter and then you can’t find a Creative Commons image you want to use. If you’re writing about how not to blow it on Twitter, maybe instead of searching for Twitter photos, search for a photo of someone blowing it. Think of a headline you might use when sharing it on social media or a funny reference, and you’ll open up possibilities for more impressive imagery.


In general, we only use photos from websites where the photographer is giving away photos or we use Creative Commons photos.

Basically, Creative Commons photos are free to use online as long as you give the photographer credit and link to their profile. Head over to Creative Commons Search and check out what flickr, Google or a handful of other sources have to offer for your business.

A bad joke is a bad joke. Save us all from bad stock photos.

Shoutout to Campaign Monitor for opening our eyes to Death To Stop.
Left photo: Tumbring Right photo: ImCreater via flickr user ter-burg

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