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Top 12 Overused Stock Photos [Slide Show]

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Slide 1 of
110729-01. Intro

Top 12 Overused Stock Photos

A staggering amount of horrible stock photography is available online. We've all seen the pics. Heck, most of us have been guilty of using them at one point or another.

For this slide show, the MarketingProfs marketing team had no problem quickly identifying the top offenders in the category of horribly overused corporate stock photos.

Why would we do such a thing? We were pumped about our PRO Take10 video, How to Select Images That Make Your Marketing More Effective

Now check out our slideshow featuring the top 12 cliché stock photos, and be sure to leave a comment about them and the ones we missed!

110729-02. 1. The Multicultural Team of Close Talkers

1. The Multicultural Team of Close Talkers

The Multicultural Team of Close Talkers is the perfect photo to showcase a diverse workforce that likes to work very closely together. Bonus points if more than five people are using one piece of technology.

110729-03. 2. The Headset Hottie

2. The Headset Hottie

Use this photo when you want your call center to seem friendly, customer-service oriented, and surprisingly attractive.

110729-04. 3. The Techno Yogi

3. The Techno Yogi

Is your product or service so incredible that it makes the user experience a Zen state? Well, then, this is the photo for you!

110729-05. 4. The Hurdler

4. The Hurdler

Can you help people overcome their biggest hurdles or obstacles? Why not show them with this stock photo of a businessman jumping over an actual hurdle?

110729-06. 5. The Frustrated-at-Technology Guy

5. The Frustrated-at-Technology Guy

Do you want to remind your customers about the pitfalls of your competitor's products? Do so with an image of a frustrated man, woman, or child (you can take your pick; you have plenty of options in stock-photo land!).

110729-07. 6. The Eureka Moment

6. The Eureka Moment

Use this photo when you want to convey how truly life-changing your product is.

110729-08. 7. The AARP Couple

7. The AARP Couple

Is your target audience over 50? Be sure to feature a couple of silver foxes on your site to make Boomers feel at home there!

110729-09. 8. The Whiteboard Thinker

8. The Whiteboard Thinker

I've never seen someone write on a clear glass whiteboard in real life, but I've seen it hundreds of times on the Internet (including on our own site... no one said we were innocent!). Use this photo whenever you need to showcase strategic thinking!

110729-10. 9. The Token Female

9. The Token Female

Want to flaunt your feminine side while still showing that you can think strategically? Fear not: You can find the exact same stock photo (see The Whiteboard Thinker) featuring a woman!

110729-11. 10. The Handshake

10. The Handshake

Are you reputable? Show it with a handshake! Bonus points if it's multicultural!

110729-12. 11. The Success Jump

11. The Success Jump

Do you jump for joy when you reach a goal? Nah, neither do I. But in stock-photo land, it's the only way to demonstrate success.

110729-13. 12. The Superhero Businessman

12. The Superhero Businessman

Can you help your clients with your superhuman-like skill set? Slap a logo on this stock photo and feature it all over your website. (Another one we are guilty of using!)


Remember, not all stock photography is bad. We use iStockphoto for nearly all of our photography needs. But remember, if you use stock photos... do so selectively and responsibly.

If you need to make better photo choices for your marketing needs, check out How to Select Images That Make Your Marketing More Effective.

Let's all do our part to make the Internet a bit more visually pleasing!

Slide 1 of 13
Corey O'Loughlin is a marketing manager at MarketingProfs. Reach her via Twitter.

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  • by Gordon Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    Corey that is spot on, it shows a total lack opf imagination

  • by Amanda Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    Ha, I've seen #3 so many times, but more often in blonde hair & blue eyes.

  • by CAJ Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    Most definitely the "handshake"!

  • by Keith Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    My favorite version of number 2 has the people seated around the table looking confidently at the camera, as if they're real employees of the company. Of course, everyone knows they're not.

  • by Ronan Lavelle Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    You have to laugh really. Check out the page on your website about creating Marketing plans ( Say no more! :-)

  • by brent Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    number three!!! I have seen her everywhere

  • by brent Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    and the "handshake" I think we are using that on a banner!

  • by Bruce Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    These were all dead on. But my favorite was Ronan Lavelle's comment above. Best laugh of my week!!!

    I guess a little humility is a good thing for all of us :-)

  • by Ann Handley Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    @Ronan: LOL.. nice catch. I could probably find a dozen more like it, on our own site. As Corey pointed out, we aren't immune, either!

  • by Anna Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    Great article. You're just missing a flowery kind of picture for beauty industries. :)

  • by Paula Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    @Ronan : hahaha that's a good one :))))

  • by @Dean4d Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    And Ive seen the flow chart animated:

  • by Megan Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    And for the wine industry, it's this one! I wish I had been the photographer....

  • by Barbara Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    Yes, too funny! And as other commenters have voiced here, any editor that would even think of using these has displayed a total lack of imagination--for sure ;) hah!

  • by Laurie Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    I love the glass whiteboard ... apparently the scribbler is expert at writing charts backwards!

  • by Ethan Beute Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    Congrats to the rights holder of each photo! You know you've made it when you're the foundation for a spoofy piece like this.

  • by Ann Handley Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    @Ethan: LOL.. true.

  • by @Dean4d Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    I have always been tasked to show diversity in marketing. Shot 2 covers almost every demographic/gender. 2or 3 males vs females ratio. Cover each racial social type. If you saw this in Canada, you would also require another visible minority from Asia perhaps. Very unimaginative.

  • by Effective Naturally Fri Jul 29, 2011 via web

    How about a photo that I've seen on 8 different pieces of marketing with the biggest contrast being from a) The outreached hand of a good looking blonde young man in a suit as the 'poster boy' for a cities Service Excellence Awards in Australia, then b) whilst travelling in Prague the same guy is in the same pose but with no shirt on, waxed and buff and is the 'gay poster boy' for Prague on the 'Gay Guide'. Either way he's a good looking fella...but amazing how it removes the credibility when you see the same person 'representing' so many different things.

  • by Sean Sat Jul 30, 2011 via web

    Wait - are you telling me that photo #2 isn't from a real company that has hired equal mixes of culture, race and sex? I'm guessing that one of the participants in the photo is actually in a wheelchair and one must be homosexual, right? And it probably goes without saying that they are all different religions.

  • by Tom Townsend Sun Jul 31, 2011 via web

    You hit the PROVERBIAL Nail on the "Head" with this one for sure!

  • by Mandy Ang Mon Aug 1, 2011 via web

    Opps.. I have the number 3- same lady -differernt angle. I work for a communication firm

  • by Corey O'Loughlin Mon Aug 1, 2011 via web

    Your comments are cracking me up! Thanks for reading everyone!

  • by Roy Young Mon Aug 1, 2011 via web

    Fun, Corey, and very smart thinking. You are right, we marketers must be sensitive to this.

  • by Debra Gaynor Tue Aug 2, 2011 via web

    Hysterical. These pictures look too familiar for comfort. I'm going to be a lot more thoughtful when clipping stock pictures from now on.

  • by Megan Tue Aug 2, 2011 via web

    To Amanda (and everyone): I was totally expecting that blonde customer service rep, too! LOL If she somehow doesn't make the list, she definitely deserves an honorable mention. Not only have I seen her on countless websites, but also on printed collateral and even on a flyer at my pharmacy! She's become an M.S.P.C. -- minor stock photo celebrity. :)

  • by TJ Wed Aug 3, 2011 via web

    What, no image of the super-fit gal on the stair master? Great job, thanks for the entertainment.

  • by Kim Brandt Fri Aug 5, 2011 via web

    So, so true! Someone please make these images go away!!!

  • by Timo Kruskopf Mon Aug 8, 2011 via web

    Happy to be simple. Clichés are unbelievable! Especially cliché within a cliché - you'' find 101 of them at

  • by Daniel Rosenhaus Mon Aug 8, 2011 via web

    I think this site should get an honorable mention, check out the stock photography everywhere on this site, it's lol worthy

  • by Paula Ashley Tue Aug 9, 2011 via web

    This post is hilarious! Inspired a long overdue blog post on our own favorite overused M.S.P.C., which really deserves to be in this list!:

  • by Chana Wald Mon Aug 15, 2011 via web

    I love this! I'll admit - my company is also guilty of using images similar to these. It drives me crazy seeing the same images (or models from the images) on multiple campaigns. I've begun to annoy (or inform) friends/family/coworkers by telling them the other marketing campaigns an image has been in. The public should know! :)
    In Utah, this girl is everywhere. Malls, dentists, plastic surgeons, and small businesses all use her. It drives me nuts!

  • by Suzanne Mon Oct 10, 2016 via web

    Imagine if they were overused in 2011 how they can be in 2016!? :)

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