Not Always Worth 1,000

Posted January 7, 2015, under Inspired Ideas

We all know that “a picture is worth a thousand words” — the right image will communicate far better than any “wall of text.” But it’s not always feasible (or fiscally responsible) to hire a photographer and models for a custom photo shoot; so designers look to image libraries, which license use of professional work, at a fraction of the cost.

It’s an amazing tool, with some spectacular photographic art available — but like anything, there are cons to go with the pros.

Overexposure

The best and biggest stock photo libraries are known to designers the world over. With everyone drinking from the same well, some overlap is bound to occur. And human nature being what it is, when those photos are of an unreasonably attractive person in a wide variety of poses and settings — well, that person is suddenly going to be everywhere.

We guarantee you’ve seen this girl before. She must have guys asking her where they know her from ALL THE TIME.

The result is that someone can be world famous without anyone even knowing their name. (Hers is Ariane, for the record. She has a Facebook fan page and at least one Tumblr devoted to posting ads with her in it.)

Cliches

Like any art form, stock photography has developed a sort of shorthand — scenes, situations, and such that people immediately recognize. That super-utility means such images become cliches of the medium.

To be honest, we’re not even sure why “babies in pots” is such a popular stock photo subject.

Corporate America wants everyone to know it values diversity, teamwork, and… jump-cheers? The Wave? Scaring off predators?

Other popular business concepts include dealmaking, world domination.

What is it with women being stoked about their apples. Is this… is this some sort of Biblical reference?

Others are just kind of weird.

If the world of stock photography is to be believed, women of all walks of life find salad hilarious.

Inevitably, overexposure and cliches will merge into a kind of Kafka-esque Stock Photo Convergence. E.g.: Here is Ariane, who apparently enjoys private time with salad as much as any other woman.

These were all on the first page of the Google image search for “women laughing alone with salad.”

There’s probably a bunch of photos of her with apples, too.


Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.