From Cliché to Mission Critical: How Stock Photography is Evolving in Beauty, Breadth, and Efficiency

Stock photos get a bad rap sometimes. We’ve all seen images of women inexplicably smiling at their forkfuls of salad, or an unnaturally giddy customer service representative standing by. “Some stock photography just looks like stock photography,” says May Curry, a graphic design veteran with almost 20 years of experience.

But stock photography has always been an essential part of the designer’s toolkit. When used right, it helps brands make just the right impact. Today, collections are evolving to keep pace with visual trends and create unique, attention-grabbing images—quickly and on budget.

Let’s take a look at stock’s rapid transformation and how it’s helping designers do beautiful work, faster than ever.