The Life, Death and Resurrection of Stock Images

by Krishna Rammohan


Pictures, videos, gifs, and all things visual have recently been huge. Social platforms like Instagram, Imgur, and Snapchat are loaded with databases full of pictures created by people all over the globe. I can safely say that our generations are in love with visuals and design. It’s insane how just a couple years ago the general crowd had absolutely no idea about design and would throw images like these (shown below) absolutely everywhere on the internet:

Extremely complicated diagrams that try to show a very simple idea
ah, the fake smiles from paid actors & actresses
and finally, the handshakes…

The purpose of stock images is to convey a point but in turn they give websites/presentations/marketing a lack of originality and quality. Stock Images for a long time were complicated, ugly and a waste of money. Today if I were to see an example of any of these ugly stock photos, I would burst out laughing. (Same thing goes to when I see someone use comic sans/papyrus in the wrong context but that's a different story.)

New Stock Images

Fairly recently, great beautiful stock images have been used by many. Unlike the past Stock Images, they hold true character and its hard to tell, even to designers, that it was, in fact, a stock image. Many of them seem like they could have been taken by anybody. This doesn’t mean it looks bad, it means quite the opposite. Many newer stock images have a sense of reality and a personal touch that make them human compared to the stock images used in 2005. Here is a handful of countless great examples:

The term Stock Image still sounds gross and geeky to me because of the uglier visuals created in the past however I see great use cases in the newer style of Stock Images. They will catch on with the newer crowd and people will love it. Images should go farther than a message, they should create a personal connection with the viewer that makes them engaged. If you're going to use an image to prove a point, why should it be ugly?

Btw, here’s a great site I always use for Stock Images ;) http://allthefreestock.com/

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