Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries

The Worst Offenders From Top Stock Photo Sites

March 05, 2018

As a food delivery company, we often find ourselves in need of amazing food pictures. Mostly pizza. Sometimes salads, but 98% of the time, it’s pizza. The problem is, most of the major sites (Adobe Stock, Getty ,iStock) have really, really bad pictures.

We asked our designers what they spend their day doing and, quite frankly, we were shocked by the results.

To keep things fair, here’s how the copywriters spend their time.

As you can see, looking at ugly food photos is taking up way too much time. We love our designers and don’t want them to spend their time looking at ugly food.

In fact, we don’t want anyone to look at ugly food. That’s why we made this guide for stock photo companies about everything they’re doing wrong. Enjoy! Or actually, don’t enjoy. It’s kinda scary down there.


Nothing completes a pizza like olives that look like eyeballs.

The biggest complaint here stems from the fact that this picture was taken in a burning building. It’s just not practical to feature a house on fire while trying to get people to order delivery. Also, the crust was 87% raw, the sauce was clearly ketchup, and the yellowing cheese looks like it’s been sitting there for a long time.

Pickles aside, that is some terrible color correction.

This photo was obviously taken by a someone whose only reference of pizza is Ninja Turtles. Might as well add some jellybeans. No one, and we mean no one, would rather have a square pizza over a round pizza. On a positive note, the pickle placement is excellent. You get a pickle in every bite!

It’s like those Icelandic hot springs, but with grease and pepperoni.

If pizza could be a topographic map, this one would be super bumpy. There’s some great lighting going on here. Unfortunately, the only thing it’s capturing is the massive amounts of grease. Good color though.

This could be the most controversial pizza ever.

First things first, no pizza should have that many shades of green. Now, let’s talk toppings. Corn? Broccoli? Green olives? Spinach? If this pizza had pineapple, people’s heads would explode from controversy. On a designer note. Please, please, please, make sure the entire pizza is in frame. It’s very hard to have to round out that bottom crust in Photoshop and there is no reason to have extra space on top. In the future, full pizza in comps.

Why would you put down a paper towel on top of that beautiful Calcutta marble?

Sigh. As much as we love a glass of milk with our pizza (plus an extra glass off to the side for later) we have to draw the line somewhere. That line is dog food, pine nuts, and leaves on a wafer cracker pizza. Possibly the worst offender of this whole picture is the spotless butter knife that A.) is useless for cutting, B.) Definitely didn’t slice this “pizza” and C.) is wildly out of place compositionally. Once again, thanks for cutting off the sides of the pizza making it useless as well as disgusting.

Is this even a pizza?

When we first glanced at this pizza we all thought there were strawberries on it. Which honestly, after everything we’ve seen would be one of the least weird toppings so far. This pizza looks like someone needed to get rid of stuff going bad in the fridge, so they put it on their pizza. Without sauce. However, composition, pizza box, angle and blank space (AKA room for words) in this picture make it, sadly, one of the better options.

Honestly, we’d eat this.

You might at first just think that those are pineapple chunks and ham, a nice Hawaiian pizza. But looking closer reveals a dark secret. Those are french fries. And vienna sausages. However, that dough looks pillow-y and scrumptious. Only thing missing is some dill pickles. This pizza gets our vote for most likely to eat.

That’s a sponge, right?

The only possibility of this picture is that an alien crash landed in a photo studio, took over the body of a food photographer, and tried his best to photograph “human” pizza. That crust is worse than elementary school pizza crust. We’re talking focaccia that somehow is also as dry as a cracker. Not settling for just terrible, this alien/human decided to put dog kibble and cheese curds that expired last June with the vaguest hint of a sauce. This is the worst piece of pizza in the world.

People Eating Salad

Dialogue: Hey babe, that lettuce looks pretty heavy. Let me help you stir it.

This is the first step to impressing a lady friend who (if we may be so bold as to say) is clearly out of this guy’s league. Not sure why they’re looking at the salad so lovingly, like it’s a human baby, but we’d be pretty happy too if we owned that sleek modern condo in a nice tropical climate.

The only thing that isn’t white in this photo is a strawberry.

Is must be uncomfortable sitting on a wood stool, behind a wall. But at least she got the “no pants lifestyle” down. Who wants to bet us $100 that there’s nothing in those cabinets?

If you wish hard enough, the salad tastes like spaghetti.

We aren’t as swole as this guy and we don’t live in South Beach, but we sympathize with his attempt to be healthy by making a salad. He didn’t even properly chop the vegetables or use dressing, because what’s the point? He’s still going to want a burger afterwards.

So far, none of the salads have dressing, which worries me because dressing is why I eat salad.

While we’ve never laughed at anything this hard in our entire life, we’ve also never eaten a feta cheese (or tofu?) salad without dressing alone in our kitchen. It begs the question, what IS making her laugh/cry? Seinfeld? Black Mirror? A Seinfeld-Black Mirror mashup?

I’d roll my eyes if I had to eat an olive salad too.

This model reminds us of our kid sister who was always asking us to cut up her toast in bite-sized pieces and making pizza with ketchup, so we won’t blame her for eating a “salad” that has cilantro, ketchup, and a row of five olives. Yes, we’re talking about you Lydia. Also, something is very interesting on her ceiling, and we’re guessing it’s aliens.

It’s like, eat this salad, but sexy.

Can someone tell this model that the music video casting call got cancelled? Instead, they handed her a bowl of salad and she thought, “I came here to be hot, and no one can stop me.”

You know what else can’t be stopped? Giant genetically-engineered tomatoes.

I appreciate the strategic placement of the plate to keep this photo PG.

“Oh, hello. I’m just having a regular Sunday morning in bed with my salad. I am a human who eats normal human fare like onion berry feta medleys. I like to hold my fork in new, adventurous ways that might get parmesan in my sheets. I’m definitely not a robot who learned it from the C4MAX Human Manual.”

Nothing in this makes sense.

If you want a healthy night’s sleep, don’t do any of these things: Bring devices in bed that can heat up and burn your bare skin. Sleep in scratchy brown bedding that looks like mom’s window curtains. And finally, don’t eat too many greens because you will have to floss your teeth again:

Indian Food

Author’s note: You’d be hard-pressed to find a group who loves Indian food as much as we do, so it makes sense that we’re always trying to find delicious photos to share. But we have to warn you: This category is not for the faint of heart, children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or anyone who wants to enjoy Indian food within the next hour.

See, the right bowl can make lots of food look better.

People say we’re always talking about our favorite movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret of the Ooze, but bear with us. It’s not a bad thing in our book. Spinach is sometimes neon green and we would eat this beautiful bowl of sludge even if the thing floating on the right looks like an eyeball.

Food photo rule: if there’s lemon, it’s probably not Indian food.

This looks like a delicious bowl of bean chili garnished with salsa, but that’s not something we’ve seen in Indian cuisine before. Our designers would also like to add that a photo should never cut off the bottom of the bowl. It’s like cutting off Santa’s beard.

My parents’ first car was that color.

Labelled as “food,” this photo communicates what it needs to. Sadly, the pros end there because it also communicates “blood” and “liver.” Could we just steal that naan and go to our room now?

That’s Fancy Feast.

We asked a cat to rate this photo, and this is what it had to say: “I love my dinner served alongside kale, sangria with a spoon, and an artfully tossed napkin. My human puts it on the marble floor but not before plating it nicely in my favorite wood bowl. Meow.”

A pretty plate couldn’t save this pile of garbage.

Have you ever wondered what a pizza would look like if it was made with a fancy plate instead of crust? It takes much less time to bake. And if anyone questions you, just serve it on a bamboo placemat. High culture at its finest.

Why do people still throw completely inedible garnishes on food?

The first thing that came to mind when we saw this photo was spiderwebs. And several massive plates, for anyone who wants to share. But be careful picking up that fork because it’s a sauce splatter waiting to happen. Good thing it’s being served on a washing machine.

That placemat would make a cool desktop wallpaper.

Remember when we said we ordered these from least to most disgusting? It’s not too late to turn away. We’re not saying worms don’t have their place in fine dining, but not when they’re sticking out of brainlike food mash. It’s like quicksand but infinitely worse.

How did someone have the confidence to sell this photo?

If you thought the last dish was brainy, we’re sorry to say it gets brainier. But also slushier, if that’s possible. Things have melted a bit, causing the worms to float atop this dish, revealing their true identity as leeches that have just finished feeding on something.

You made it. Congratulations. Here’s some palate cleansing gifs to prove the world’s not all bad.

Are you a designer? Have you seen stock photos that make your san-serifs curl? Let us know and share your worst stock photos on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

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