5 Head-Scratchingly Common Stock Photo Themes (also, there’s a contest)

cat mug shot

I often come across things that make me think, “whose job is it to come up with this stuff?” Like, flavor descriptions on Vitamin Water labels, or paint color names (just what color is Anonymous?).

It’s usually followed up with a “how can I get that job?”

Creating stock images has recently shot to the top of that list. I have lost—nay, given—hours of my time to combing through comical poses, faces, and scenarios while searching for something that I’ve totally forgotten after a few clicks of the Next arrow. In our office, a recent pursuit for the perfect “tool malfunction” picture, yielded this bad boy:
man and wheel barrow in bush
Hilarity ensued.

(Don’t try to figure it out; we’ve already dedicated an entire afternoon to that to no avail.)

The same hunt turned up several other results, some of which made us question the process for categorizing these images. There seem to be some common, yet inapplicable themes that seep into many of my searches. Here are 5 frequent theme findings:

1. Slutty cop

Inevitably, something that isn’t sexual will pop up in a sexy fashion. Like when you’re at a Halloween party and the slutty cop and sexy mouse come in and bob all the apples. The following reared its rear when I typed “doorway”:
man in doorway

2. Creepy, quasi-’70s guy

For some reason, no matter what kind of guy I’m searching for, I always seem to stumble upon the mustachioed creeper who’s actually from the present day, but is dressed in a retro suit and showing off his myriad expressions in front of avocado green damask wallpaper.
retro 70s man with damask wallpaper

3. Cell phones

I get it. Everything we do these days involves a cell phone, so naturally, they’ll find their way into stock photos even when the search might not specifically ask for it. But when I’m looking for “looking lot” and I’m presented with the opportunity to illustrate this via some college co-eds texting near a car, I quickly forget what I was doing in the first place.
teenager texting near car

4. Calf shot

Why am I always finding legs and feet? Even if I’m not looking for “walking” or “cankles,” there they are.
woman walking up snowy stairs

5. Frustrated as hell

There are certainly cases that call for a confused or stressed look, but “beanbag” doesn’t necessarily warrant the fiery frustration of a person who’s trying to get their tent back in its original bag.
frustrated man yells at friends
The stock photo theme possibilities are basically infinite, whether they’re right for your project or not. And, if nothing else, you’re sure to find a bunch that will give you a good laugh.

Hungry for more? Check out Buzzfeed’s 50 Completely Unexplainable Stock Photos No One Will Ever Use for some real treasures. (Our fave? The potato-crotch Hitler.)

Ok, I have to get outside for a shoulder-shrugging doctor photo shoot. We’re losing daylight.

Silly stock photo contest

Have a favorite nonsensical stock photo? Share it with us on Facebook! We’ll choose our favorite and the winner will receive a free t-shirt (brand new, even—not from one of our dressers). Submit by September 15th to be considered a winner. Click here to enter the contest.

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