Everything I Learned About IT From Stock Photos

Love them or hate them, stock photos are everywhere. From billboards to online websites (yes, Lifehacker Australia uses them too), they are often employed to provide context to written words. But sometimes stock photos get it so wrong — particularly when it comes to depicting the people and happenings in the IT industry. If you take some stock photos at face value, you'll have a pretty warped understanding of what goes on in IT.

Stock photos are used by media outlets and designers all around the world as a cost-effective way to acquire images to complement their work. Not all stock photos are created equal however, and there are websites dedicated to shaming bizarre and hilarious from image repositories.

My photography skills are subpar so heaven help us if we ever had to stop using stock photos here at Lifehacker Australia. But while I rely on stock image services for my work, I have come across a few IT-related pictures that have made me laugh out loud.

In the spirit of 'Friday Fun Day', here are four things I've learnt about the IT industry from stock photos. (All images used in this article are from Shutterstock).

#1 End Users Are A Crazy Bunch

End-users are the bane of every IT departments' existence. The general impression is end-users have little clue on how to operate a computer and constantly bug IT administrators and tech support teams over trivial issues. They are also easily frustrated and will range over the smallest computer problems. I'm not saying I agree with this view, but these stock photos certainly reinforce that stereotype.

Because pulling your hair and shouting at your PC is a legitimate way to fix it.

All tangled up.

If you can't fix it, eat it.

All hope is lost. Might as well have a cry.

#2 IT Professionals Loves To Point At Things

I'm not saying it's bad to point, but the number of images picturing IT guys pointing at servers and cables are a tad excessive.

"Sometimes the buttons light up. So pretty."

"Check out this funny cat video. Lol."

"Check out this rack."

*Angry pointing*

"This looks important."

#3 Hackers Are Sustaining The Black Hoodie Industry

I don't know where this all began, but there seems to be a misconception that all hackers wear black hoodies.

"I'll never tell you where I get all my black hoodies from."

"Need to hack into people's bank accounts so I can get more money to buy hoodies."

Brooding with binary.

This hacker traded in his black hoodie for a grey one and a Anonymous mask.

#4 Cybersecurity Is Best Conveyed With Locks

I write quite a bit of security stories and I struggle to find an image to go with those articles that doesn't involve some sort of lock. Can't say I blame stock image providers for this, but if somebody can think of a better substitute for locks, please tell me.

Lock up your computers.

Glowing lock.

Use an old school padlock to secure your computer.

What's that on his scr... oh, it's a lock.

Not all IT stock photos get it wrong. You can find examples of IT stock photos done right in this gallery curated by Shutterstock.

Found any IT-related stock photos that made you laugh or cringe? Let us know in the comments.


    But but but... Mr. Robot guy wears a black hoodie!

    Second last is a literal caps lock for people who are ANGRY. ALL. THE. TIME.

    #1 is pretty darn accurate...

      So accurate. I don't even work in the IT industry, and I see #1 consistently with people over their phone, tablet or computer.

      They get frustrated because a button they are pushing isn't doing something they expected, and apparently that's all the IT guys' fault. They will circulate this method 7-8 more times getting more frustrated every time, without looking for other options.

      Without disrespect, it is usually the fault of the user, not the poor electronic device.

      Not really - I've always found that 10% of users create 90% of the support calls.

      Basically there's a small minority who not only don't know much about tech, but are adamantly stubborn about refusing to learn anything about tech, because it's somebody else's job.

      The other 90% only complain about unreasonable expectations such as wanting to access their email or files.

    Anyone else notice how all the frustrated "end users" are women, and all the "IT Pros" are men?

    Welcome to the freaking 90's. Thanks Stock Photos.

      I think the last picture in #2 is of an older woman.

        Nah - that looks like an Asian guy with premature greying. Pretty sure his name is Michael, looks like a Michael.

    Can Lifehacker just have a day of only using cat based stock photos? Meow?

      Best. Suggestion. Ever.

      Pitching this to my editor!

    If you want to talk security, without a picture of a padlock, try a safecracker - or someone using a stethoscope to open a big safe / vault.

    5 things you learned? I only see 4 listed!

      The fifth one was cut due to budgetary reason...

      That was a joke. It was just a typo. All fixed!

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