16 Reasons Why Traditional Stock Photo Websites Suck

As social networking grows, so too does the consensus that we don’t care about idealistic scenarios from the sexist ads from the 50s.

It’s real, and it happens; it was only a matter of time. The largest stock photography sites and stock photographers seem to have their heads in the sand these days. After all, who hasn’t seen one of their cookie-cutter images portraying unrealistic scenarios? Are we supposed to relate to these? As social networking grows, so too does the consensus that we don’t give a shit about idealistic scenarios – those were part of the sexist ads from the 50s. You’ve all seen or heard of Mad Men, right? Advertising is a bit different than appealing to gender roles these days. Conformity isn’t cool – rebellion is all the rage (and really, isn’t that the basis behind the entire hipster phase?)

So, we as a society are all about the individual. Social media like Facebook is all about me, and you know what? It’s fantastic! We’re celebrating ourselves as an individual. We promote ourselves as individuals. Can I personally relate to half of the ads I see in print? No, I am so hyper-aware of what they are trying to do and trying to sell that I, personally, critique them most of the time. Oh, look at her; I know she looks pretty, but I know precisely how much Photoshop went into that because of a funny thing such as Google and trending articles. Traditional stock photography is very much the same. Their content is based on outdated advertising ideas while simultaneously forgetting the individual and that most everything is online. Magazines are replaced with personal blogs, Tumblr, Twitter, websites, YouTube – absolutely everything on the Internet completely negates the point of print and the stereotypical photographs used in its advertising. Why? Why not? You can have a thousand different images, videos, and embedded audio on a web page.

WordPress alone has had over 100 million installs. Websites have cropped up all over for the sole purpose of entertaining us. The funniest thing about those websites? Their word count is usually less than five hundred, and it is mainly taken up with images and videos. Need an example? Distractify and Buzzfeed are some examples, but there are thousands out there, and they have a massive amount of traffic every day. So with this in mind, traditional themes for stock photography seem silly! Here are 16 instances of how dated and tired-looking images target old-school ad agencies and marketing departments more than the new world of bloggers and publishers.

  1. Photos of men wearing expensive suits and ties

    Let’s get real here; even high-end law firms are heading the casual dress route.

    Photos of men wearing expensive suits and ties
    Photos of men wearing expensive suits and ties
  2. Every worker is smiling and happy

    Sure, everyone has seen the stereotypical smiling attractive office workers – ON TV – but does this represent reality? Do we need to live in an idealistic world? Everyone can be a journalist these days, and everyone wants to expose some truth. So let’s have some fun like our sticky note businessman.

    Every worker is smiling and happy
    Every worker is smiling and happy.
  3. Lack of home offices

    Yep, every home office worker dresses up in a suit and has a tidy office – NOT! I am writing this article in my home office with three monitors, computers on the floor, books and papers everywhere, wearing yesterday’s t-shirt and track pants. Total mess and casual. When was the last time I wore a suit? The better question is, would it even fit!

    Lack of home offices
    Lack of home offices – just too many sterile corporate office images
  4. Lack of stay-at-home caregivers images

    Increasingly older people are living longer and living in their homes.  What is needed is more images of caregivers both to children and the elderly in realistic scenes in home scenarios.

    Lack of stay at home caregivers
    Lack of stay at home caregivers
  5. The elderly are all healthy and happy.

    Yes, typical ad agencies want to ‘sell’ or ‘project’ that every elderly person is happy and in good hands and good health – that is what they study in marketing 101, but that is not the reality that millions of bloggers want to depict.

    Elderly that are all healthy and happy
    Elderly that are all healthy and happy
  6. Overkill on people shaking hands

    Although they can be helpful, large stock agencies have overkill on people shaking hands and giving out business cards – I know people still give out business cards and shake hands, but enough already – we have millions of these images – people don’t even give out cards anymore. Who wants to manually type the info into their computers – old school, right? We’re the now generation, not the then generation.

    Overkill on people shaking hands
    Overkill on people shaking hands
  7. Businesswomen in low cut dresses and high heels

    Are free love and 1970’s TV shows making a comeback?  The stereotype is that successful people are all pretty and sexy, and using them in your marketing campaign can be effective if used carefully. Still, in most cases, the overuse of sex is ineffective.

    Businesswomen in low cut dresses and high heels
    Businesswomen in low cut dresses and high heels
  8. Models looking straight at the camera

    Hollywood doesn’t even do it, so why do stock photographers?  Although there are instances where the model looks into the camera, effective lifestyle marketing contains realistic scenarios.

    Models looking straight at the camera
    Models looking straight at the camera
  9. Shooting models from above

    Ten or twenty years ago shooting models from above might have been considered creative.  But to me, it makes them seem lower in stature – because we all want to be tiny, squished people.

    Shooting models from above
    Shooting models from above
  10. Business documents all contain graphs, charts, or financial data

    When color printers came onto the market twenty years ago, it was cool to print silly graphs and include them in business presentations.  But fast forward to an online world, what company pays for pretty charts and graphs on paper.  Who still prints out presentations?  Therefore, depicting printed charts and financial documents in your marketing efforts is not realistic, and not advised.

    Business documents all contain graphs
    Business documents all include graphs, charts, or financial data
  11. Crowds of people looking at a computer monitor

    For one, I am not even sure what situation in a workplace would have people gather around another employee’s desk. Second, social media has replaced any sharing of information in this manner.  Images like the one where a bunch of businesspeople in suits googling a computer monitor look comical and silly.

    Crowds of people looking at a computer monitor
    Crowds of people looking at a computer monitor
  12. People holding large blank white cards

    Yes since the inventions of computer programs like Photoshop can cleaning add text and graphics to a blank sign, and it might even look appropriate.  But it looks cheap in my opinion.

    People holding large blank white cards
    People holding large blank white cards
  13. Every doctor and nurse has stethoscopes.

    Is this realistic? Or, let me reiterate, how many times do the doctors in film and television are stethoscopes?

    Every doctor and nurse has stethoscopes
    Every doctor and nurse have stethoscopes
  14. Lack of people of mixed ethnicity

    If you were an alien and viewed the world through samples of stock images, you would think 95% of humans were Caucasian. Well, we all know that is far from the truth, so why are there so few stock images that portray this?  From London to New York to Toronto and onward, the largest cities worldwide are primarily populated by mixed ethnicities.

    Lack of people of mixed ethnicity
    Lack of people of mixed ethnicity
  15. People of mixed Religion

    Despite movements to reduce the prominence of religion in media, it’s still a significant aspect to a large portion of the world’s population. Depicting society void of any cultural or religious diversity is not realistic.

    Lack of people of mixed ethnicity 1
    Lack of people of mixed ethnicity
  16. Gay lifestyle

    The trend in Hollywood is to portray the gay lifestyle as mainstream – marketing and stock imagery need to follow this trend.

    Gay lifestyle
    Gay lifestyle

Can a blogger afford that?

Has anyone seen the Debenhams Department store marketing? If not, here is the link.

That’s what stock photography needs to aim for. (And guess what? That article was trending too) Although the comments are aimed at both stock agencies and photographers, these stock photography sites seem to dictate what can and cannot be accepted into their websites. Many of the largest stock photography sites are arrogant enough to think they know what images you should take. If a photographer submits images that do not fit into the fold of what they believe is good stock photography, they reject it. Talk about good old peer pressure, no? This is all old-school thinking; stock agencies suffer from outdated images and costly pricing.

Kozzi is one of the largest private collections of images in the world!

God no. And yet, you have to have the license to use images. Those websites I was talking about before? Buzzfeed and the like? Underneath each image, you will see which website they retrieved the image from, and most of the time, yes, it is from a stock photography website. The problem? Just think of how much traffic a website like Buzzfeed gets every day. They can afford to use expensive subscriptions. Can everyone? No.

We at Kozzi try to buck the trend. First, on the price front, Kozzi high-resolution images cost only $5.00, including vector EPS clipart files.

Feel confident that all the images on Kozzi are legal. Each image on Kozzi is produced internally. The last thing you want these days is to be tangled up in any legal infraction involving copyright infringement. However, especially as your webpage or blog gets more traffic and more people start to notice (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of you who haven’t broken through the mold yet), it’s vital to have the license to the images you use. So unless you have the recourses and time to produce the photos yourself, it’s pretty standard to go to a stock photography site.


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