Stock images used to be a last resort, featuring bland, sanitized models on beaches, or stilted images of world landmarks and national flags. Today, however, stock images are increasingly defining the visual language of designers as they become increasingly edgy, as Digit found out.

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Stock images – for all their advantages – have suffered an image crisis. Many designers, when previously conjuring up a set of stock images, used to involuntarily shudder when looking at their digital light box. The advent of quick-to-access, royalty-free stock may have solved one problem – speed – but it created another: stock images that were safe and, quite simply, boring.
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The result was that, traditionally, stock images ended up painting a conservative landscape; one populated with happy, smiley models, with perfect families running across white sands, clad in equally white t-shirts and dresses. In stock images, businessmen always shake hands or talk into a mobile phone, while meetings are populated by silver-haired stereotypes leading an attentive crowd. It’s enough to make any designer dealing in reality flick the off-switch on the virtual light box, reach for the Rolodex, and commission some proper photography instead.
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