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Most of the examples of dreadful stock photography linked to from this post have now changed – doubtless as a direct result of the excoriation they receive here. But the post attracted some great comments, so I’m leaving it up.
Photos are good. A picture is worth a thousand words.Web sites need photos. Photos of people are reassuring and help site visitors feel a lovely sense of society, community, and quiverings of loveliness in their astral karma. Or something. But I fucking hate stupid stock photography.
It’s tricky to define, but you know it when you see it.
It generally manifests itself as a slightly out-of-focus, jaunty-angled picture of a group of twentysomethings, all glam and multi-ethnic doing something high-powered and corporate in Armani suits. See Price Waterhouse Cooper for nice out-of-focus photo of some twelve-year olds in a boardroom; management consultancy sites are always rich pickings.
Nominet is a splendid example of stock photo wankery. It’s a domain name registrar, so should presumably have a picture of a server cluster to indicate its business. Instead, though, they’ve a lovely picture of a back of a bloke’s head (which seems to be 9 feet wide) and a twenty year old looking flirtatiously at him. Wow! I think. I’ll definitely register all my .uk domains with Nominet as it has hot girls and wide-headed men working there. Nothing to do with the fact that it’s a monopoly, of course.
Some photos of shiny happy multi-ethnic 20 year olds are legitimate. British universities have a sudden outbreak of sexy Asian teens – but that’s fine, because foreign students pay 45423 times the money that a British student pays to go to University, and they actually do some work when they’re there. Plus, when China and India take over the world, it’s better if their captains of Industry have been educated at Neasden University (formerly Neasden College of Hairdressing and Textile Design) rather than than Harvard or Yale. Then they might not drop their nuclear bombs on us when Armageddon comes, out of loyalty to their alma maters.
Another genre is the stupidly surreal picture. For example, the organisation GfK (Growth from Knowledge – wankers!!) has a picture of a someone cupping some leaves in their hands on their homepage. It’s missing alt text, so it’s difficult to determine what it’s supposed to mean.
If it were on the Monsanto site, I’d assume it meant “oooh, good! There’s been a global ecological catastrophe and we’ve got the last four leaves in the world and we’ve patented the DNA”. But as it’s illustrating “Growth through Knowledge” (wankers), I guess it shows that they’re hoping to rub some ganja leaves together to extract the resin before their next drug-crazed spending-spree at Corbis, but are too stupid to recognise Marijuana so are trying it with stinging nettles.
Equally bafflingly, one of the photos illustrating GfK’s “vision” seems to be of a pre-teen in the bath (safe for work). Personally, if that were my ultimate objective for the future, I’d keep pretty fucking quiet about it; it can’t be much of a laugh being Gary Glitter right now. (For extra fun, refresh the “Vision” page a few times for a hilarious gallery of bollocks stock images).
For fucks’ sake, corporate marketing managers! OK, so you can’t depict your corporate vision completely honestly, with an image of your laughing CEO gargling gallons of caviare, and being fellated by high class call-girls while watching his competitor’s houses being repossessed. But at least don’t try to pretend that your corporate song is Lennon’s “Imagine”.
Anyone else got any examples of shite stock photography?