Ah, the stock image. Beloved and despised in equal measure, you can’t get away from them. Some have become memes – like 2018’s popular ‘distracted boyfriend’ – and others have become so ubiquitous you’ll spot them on practically every website and social media feed in their niche.

Stock images have their place – we use them ourselves when we don’t have the right image to hand, or the time to go out and take the shot we need. We do try to use original imagery where possible, but sometimes a quick trawl through a stock image site is more efficient.

Free stock images are a good choice for businesses without much cash to spend, although again, we should stress how important it is to try and get original imagery wherever possible. Of course, the best thing about searching free stock images is how incomprehensible some of the pictures are. So here’s a roundup of some of the funniest we’ve found. Not the ones that are trying to be funny though, that would be too easy…

 

Image search: Business

Ok, so the idea is that you put your own messaging on the board. But we can’t help but laugh at the image of this person walking into a meeting with a board over their face. Just us?

 

Image search: Woman

 

High fashion pose (ish), post-apocalyptic/futuristic background, odd composition… When would you use this? Ideas welcome…

 

Image search: Business

There’s something very ‘early days of the internet’ about this one – but we love how pleased she is with whatever you overlay onto that badly blocked out screen.

 

Image search: Man

Ah yes, the very essence of man there. Free stock image sites are full of weirdly layered and compiled shots like this.

Image search: Internet

What happened to this poor woman? All the pictures in the background seem pretty positive – money, families, lightbulbs… Why is she so distraught?

Image search: Laugh

Why yes, I was looking for a hero image for this post. And I was half tempted to use this wonderful picture of ‘laughing’ rabbits. Except, they look a whole lot more like they’re screaming. But hey, if you ever need a couple of screaming rabbits, they’re available.

Image search: Success

Honestly, I don’t know what to say about this one.

Image search: Accomplishment

Ah, the super-cheesy stock image of complete strangers cheering. The models are trying their best (I assume) but their eyes give it away.

Image search: Stress

I’m so stressed I almost broke my pencil nib (but not quite – so only a bit stressed, then). I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the standard ‘person with their head in their hands’ pictures you usually get for stress.

Image search: Animals

After a page or so of majestic elephants, photogenic cats, predatory wolves and dramatic tigers, you get this rather adorable pug-in-a-rug.

Image search: Attention

I love the ‘abstract concepts’ image searches. How do you sum up the concept of attention in a photograph? Apparently, like this. If only someone had photoshopped a speech bubble into that nice empty space…

Image search: Idea

Another abstract concept, another strange image found among the expected lightbulb pictures. The longer you look at this one, the more bizarre it is. Where precisely is he planning to put that plug? Actually, why is he holding a plug if the bulb is already lit? Why is he topless? Why am I trying to make sense of this?

Image search: Shopping

Forget Amazon Prime, who wouldn’t want a disembodied hand using their computer as a portal to the infinite warehouse of possibilities represented by online shopping? Free shipping, obviously.

Image search: Busy

 

Let’s leave aside the fact that this man doesn’t look busy in any way. Instead we’ll focus on the fact that it’s not quite a silhouette, but it’s still too dark to be anything else. And if you’re going to have a dramatic ‘silhouette against a window’ shot, wouldn’t you choose one with a view that’s a little more interesting than another office block? Not even a funky one, just a big box. I can almost see the guy’s shoulders move in a big sigh.

Image search: Fitness

Of course you get a lot of yoga poses and weight lifting in this category. But you also get this rather charming little frog that, we think, justifies a small chuckle.

Image search: SEO

So, as SEO is one of the main things we do, I had to check in and see what came up for this search. Mostly 90s Word Art type images, with gradients and glowing letters and all sorts of craziness. But also this. He is clearly not having a good day. Possibly because he’s trying to do SEO on a computer that’s older than he is. Poor guy.

Image search: Advertising

As ‘PPC’ didn’t return any results, I had to try ‘advertising’ instead. What this has to do with advertising, I don’t know. Frankly, I’m not quite sure what it’s trying to tell me at all. But the longer I look into that eye, the more sure I am that it is trying to tell me something.

Image search: Colleagues

Someone spent time making this. Then they thought someone else someday might want to use it. So they uploaded it to a stock image site.

Just for a laugh, I did a reverse image search on google, so I could tell you that no one had ever used it. I found 10 pages of results. This image is out there and in use. And don’t assume they’re all blog posts like this one. One was a marketing company, another an analytics provider, even a university is on this bandwagon.

Image search: Marketing

Yep. Because when I tell people I work in marketing, that’s exactly what I want them to think. Hey boss, when do I get my bionic eye?

Image search: Bristol

Well, if I’ve looked for SEO, PPC and Marketing, I pretty much had to search Bristol, too. Unsurprisingly, balloons and bridges are the majority of the results, so that’s a relief. But what better way to showcase our vibrant, exciting, and interesting city than with some footprints in mud? Pretty sure that’s actually a little further down the coast, too.

For these fabulous images, we used Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash. And please don’t let this post put you off – all three sites offer some fantastic photography. Spend some time looking through, skip over the images you’ve seen before, and pick out some that work for you.

Do a quick reverse image search (right click on an image and select ‘search google for this image’) and you’ll be able to see where else it’s being used – which helps if you want to avoid making your hero image the same as a competitor’s ‘about us’ page!

 

 

Natalie
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