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The 15 Worst Marketing Stock Photos of 2012

Truly Terrible Imagery

worst stock photos2012 has been a good year for technology, health, and the economy. We were blessed with the best of the best in the iPhone 5, the healthcare industry took a major leap forward with their advancements in robotic surgery, and the U.S. economy took a small but positive turn in the right direction.

For stock photos, however, 2012 has been a year full of setbacks. Please consider this your fair warning: using these stock photos on your website will hurt, not help, your business. In fact, cut out stock photos all together. Actual photos of your employees are 95% more effective at converting prospects into leads than stock photography, and there’s no excuse not to break out the old digital camera and snap a few quick photos.

Just for a few giggles, take a look at our list of the 15 worst stock photos of 2012. Laugh with us, won’t you?

#15 - Clock on Computer?

worst stock photos

Photo Credit: 123rft.com

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Apple Releases New Computer, Forgets to Include Digital Clock on Screen, Rectifies By Giving Everyone Wall Clock to Keep With Computer

  • Like Ticks On A Wall Clock, These Are The Days of Our Job

Advice: Don’t use random objects for your photography. Especially two items that don’t belong in a photo together.

#14 - Don’t Cry, Young’un!!

worst stock photo

Photo Credit: vi.sualize.us

Possible Relevant Article Titles: 

  • Social Security Will Run Out By 2035, Children Forced Into Workplace

  • Average Age of C-Level Executives Continues to Decrease

Advice: Leave these photos for grandma’s holiday card. They don’t belong on your promotional materials or your website.

#13 - Massive Headache or Massive Problems?

worst stock photo








Photo Credit: kildare.ie

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Office Runs Out of Tylenol, Business Professionals Forced to Suffer

  • Bad Haircut Results In Constant Need To Cover Sideburns

Advice: How often do people actually look like this at work? And why is the international symbol for frustration touching your head or face in some way?

#12 - Negative Graph

worst stock photo

Photo Credit: investmenteurope.net

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Stairs Plummet From Sky, Crash Into Earth, Giants To Blame

  • Sales Down, Graph Breaks Bottom Line, Employees Clean Out Desks

Advice: Trying to create panic in your employees or clients? Show them this doom’s day graph.

#11 - Sign of the End?

worst stock image

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Office Sells Furniture, Employees Distraught

  • Sitting On Floor Reduces Happiness, Builds Tension

Advice: See the graph on the screen? Now repeat advice in #11.

#10 - Which Way Do I Go?

bad stock image

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Road To Wrong  Actually Same Road To Right; Moral Ambiguity Ahead

  • Red Assigned As Color For Bad, Green For Good; Elmo Punished, Oscar Rewarded

Advice: Don’t be vague. Say what you mean.

#9 - Quiet Down, Y’all.

horrible stock photo

Photo Credit: isbdc.org

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Study Shows Using Pointer Finger More Successful At Quieting Than Middle Finger; Road Ragers Adjust

  • Finger Too Big For Nostril, Inner Nose Itch Persists

Advice: Cropping isn’t always creative.

#8 - Sterile Environment or Best Conference Room Ever? 

terrible stock photo

Photo Credit: footage.shutterstock.com

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Conference Table Too White, Causes Temporary Blindness

  • Studies Show Closing Eyes Is More Intimidating, Also Good For Sleeping

Advice: Your staff meetings don’t really look like this. Take a picture of your next conference and compare.

#7 - Nice Haircut

strange stock photo














Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Clark Kent Becomes 4th Charlie’s Angel

  • Man Buys New Tie; Thanks higher power.

Advice: Use a real employee. In an office. With color on the walls. Or actual walls.

#6 - Loud Conversation?

awful stock photos










Photo Credit: afestein.net

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Man Enjoys Living In Past, Never Buys Cell Phone

  • Research Suggests Stock Photo Models Resembling Patrick Bateman Do Not Inspire Trust In Customers

Advice: If you’re going to use stock photos, at least keep them in this century.

#5 - Great Use of Your Tablet.

awful stock image














Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Man’s Tablet Screen Turns White; Like Mayans, Believes End Of World Is Near

  • New NothingApp Does Nothing, Shows Nothing, Is Nothing; Rated #1 on iTunes for 7 Months

Advice: Your photos should reflect reality. If your tablet only shows a white screen, get a new one and retake the picture.

#4 - How Am I Doing?
worst stock photos 

Photo Credit: businessmanagementdaily.com

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Product So Horrible It Was Marked Poor Twice

  • Government Rates Its Ability To Judge What Citizens Need

Advice: This doesn’t really show anything about your company and it certainly doesn’t show anything about your product, so why use it? 

#3 - Riot!

worst stock photos








Photo Credit: socialistworker.org

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Bieber Fever Spreads to Wall Street

  • Man On Phone Attacked By Angry People With iPads; Investigation Pending

Advice: Crowds aren’t always best for photos. There’s too much going on.

#2 - A Million Little Pieces

strange stock photos








Photo Credit: gawker.com

Possible Relevant Article Topics:

  • Customer Thinks Shattered Screen Is 3D Effect, Cuts Hand

  • iPhone Recall Issued Due to Exploding Screens

Advice: Just Don’t.

#1 - Yum!

worst stock photo ever










Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.com

Possible Relevant Article Titles:

  • Doctors Mix Woman’s DNA With Rabbit, Result Is Disturbing

  • Eating Lettuce Aids In Digestion; Eating Lettuce With Hands Aids In Death By Germs

Advice: Does it even need any advice? Surely you get it by now...

header image credit: Simon Dowden/freedigitalphotos.net

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 14 Posted 3 years ago Kenna Stubbs

    If you look at the study, it only examines one picture which seems overly generic. I would blame poor selection, composition, and usage instead of discarding stock photography completely.

    When used correctly, stock photography can actually be very effective.

  • Kent Ong's picture
    Jan 2 Posted 3 years ago Kent Ong

    I agree with you Jasmine, most people use stock photo it doesn't look professional. But for the photos above, not all photos are bad, it depends on what the articles about.

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