woman laughing while eating a salad

Stock Photo Clichés

Part of a series on Stock Photography. [View Related Entries]
[View Related Sub-entries]

Updated Sep 02, 2020 at 02:06PM EDT by andcallmeshirley.

Added Jan 11, 2011 at 03:34PM EST by Don.

PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.


Stock Photo Clichés are a variety of eccentric and seemingly arbitrary themes often found in stock photography, such as "women laughing alone with salad" or "people kissing computers alone."


Common depositories of stock photographs weren't easily accessible to public until the arrival of large corporate agencies like Getty Images and Corbis in the 1990s. The market for stock photography has continued to expand in the 2000s with the emergence of microstock photography services[1] like iStockPhoto, ShutterStock and Fotolia, where citizen or amateur photographers can submit their own work for distribution.


The first curation of awkward stock images began with the launch of the single topic blog Awkward Stock Photos in January 2010. Created by Chicago-based graphic designer Mark Hauge[5], the site ran a wide variety of sample stock images handpicked from stock photography websites.


Throughout January 2012, Hauge's Tumblr blog was written about by several art and tech-related blogs and news sites including GeekSugar, BoingBoing and Paste Magazine among others. The blog was met by another round of concentrated news coverage in February 2010, when the microstock photography service iStockPhoto submitted a Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown notice to Tumblr regarding Hauge's site.

gettyimages gettyimages ock www.shutterstock.com 75435076

The blog continued its publication despite its early hiccup over copyright infringement, but the ironic appreciation for stock photo cliches didn't become widespread until January 3rd, 2011, when The Hairpin published a compilation of stock photos of women laughing alone with salad bowls.[2] The Hairpin article "women laughing alone with salad" quickly turned into a viral development, generating more than 130 comments and boosting the site's traffic from several thousands of daily visits to 265,900 daily visits on the day of publication, according to Quantcast.

Daily Global People 10/25/10 2/9/11 _ Directly Measured. Rough Estimate 300K 200K 100K Nov Dec Jan thehairpin.com Directly Measured o
Quantcast Traffic Stats for TheHairPin.com

The article received extensive coverage from BuzzFeed[3], Mental Floss[4], Gawker[5], and Metafilter[6] in the following week, as well as getting mentioned by the meta-single topic blog Single Topic Blog of Single Topic Blogs.[15] Soon, additional compilation threads highlighting other strange recurring themes in stock photography began to emerge on Reddit[7] and 4chan[17], as well as feature articles on internet news sites like BuzzFeed[18] and the Huffington Post.

Gender-Specific Themes

Reflecting the viral impact of "Women Laughing Alone with Salad," several other variations on the theme surfaced in the following months, most notably "Men Laughing Alone with Fruit Salad," "Women Proud Of Their Two Apples," "Women Resisting Delicious Cakes and Pies" and "Women Struggling to Drink Water." The trend of men or women doing awkward things in stock photography was covered by various online communities and publications, such as 4chan[17], Reddit[10], The Huffington Post[9], UpRoxx[8], The Daily What[11] and The Hairpin.[12]

EA gettyimage
World of Stock enjoy your journey punchst fotolia fotolia fotolia fotolia fotolia fotolia fotolia fotolia otolia otolia fotoli oto fotolia oto fotolia fotolia

This Week in Ridiculous Stock Photos

Throughout 2011, The Huffington Post ran a weekly series titled "This Week in Ridiculous Stock Photos,"[16] which curated notable collections of sample stock photos on a regular basis. Some of the more notable examples include:

Men Helping Cook Dinner

On January 22nd, 2018, Twitter[19] user @mikerugnetta posted a series of cookbook covers. In the photos, men are standing behind women and helping them cook. He captioned the first tweet (shown below, left) "these poor women." The post received more than 5,400 retweets and 21,000 likes in two days.

Later that day, he tweeted[20] another series of covers with the caption "WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THESE." The post (shown below, right) received more than 1,000 retweet and 4,700 likes in two days.

these poor women INSTANT POT FOR TW0L FOR TWO Cookbook COOKBOOK 300 Garrick Baker Amazingly Easy & Delicious Instant Pot Recipes for Two Shon Brooks Amazing Instant Pot Recipes for 2 FOR TWO Cookbook Enia Graves Top 100 Quick, Easy &Delicious Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes to Enjoy Cooking for Two WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THESE Instant Po COOKBOOK INSTANT P T TWO Easy to Follow. Most Delicious. Superfast &Hoolthy Recipes for Two COOKBOOK 205 Easy, Quick and Delicious Pressure Cooker Recipes for Two COOKBOOK INSTANT

People responded to the post with zoomed-in pictures of the cookbooks. Twitter[21] user @angharadyeo tweeted a picture of a man holding a women's hand as the two cut a cucumber. They captioned the post "At what point will we be using the pot in the preparation of what looks like cucumber sandwiches?" The post (shown below) received more than 240 retweets and 3,700 likes in two days.

At what point will we be using the pot in the preparation of what looks like cucumber sandwiches?

Several media outlets covered the popularity of the tweets, including Bustle[22] and The Daily Mail.[23]

On January 23rd, Twitter[24] published a Moments page about the popularity of the tweets.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – mircrostock photography

[2] The Hairpin – Women Laughing Alone With Salad

[3] BuzzFeed (via Wayback Machine) – Women Laughing Alone With Salad

[4] Mental Floss – Woman Laughing Alone With Salad, and other strange trends in stock imagery

[5] Gawker – Women laughing alone with salad. Any questions?

[6] Metafilter (via Wayback Machine) – Women Laughing Alone With Salad

[7] Reddit – Women laughing alone…with salad

[8] UpRoxx – Women Struggling to Drink Water is the New Women Laughing Alone With Salad

[9] The Huffington Post – Women Struggling To Drink Water

[10] Reddit – Women struggling to drink water

[11] The Daily What (via Wayback Machine) – Morning Links

[12] The Hairpin – Women Struggling to Drink Water

[13] Tumblr – Women Laughing Alone with Salad

[14] BadStockArt – Bad Stock Photography

[15] Single Topic Blog of Single Topic Blogs (via Wayback Machine) – Awkward Stock Photos

[16] Huffington Post – This Week in Ridiculous Stock Photos

[17] 4chanarchive (via Wayback Machine) – Men Laughing Alone with Fruit Salad

[18] BuzzFeed – Women resisting delicious cakes and pies

[19] Twitter – @mikerugnetta's Tweet

[20] Twitter – @mikerugnetta's Tweet

[21] Twitter – @angharadyeo's Tweet

[22] Bustle – The “Men Helping Cook Dinner” Photo Trope On Cookbooks Just Became The Laughingstock Of Twitter

[23] The Daily Mail – 'These poor women!' Instant Pot books mocked for VERY cheesy cover shots that show smiling men looming over their partners as they cook

[24] Twitter – Are these men really helping to make dinner?

Recent Videos 5 total

Recent Images 153 total

Top Comments

+ Add a Comment

Comments (44)

Display Comments

Add a Comment

Yo Yo! You must login or signup first!