Best of Shutterstock – 2016 Cheese Awards Top 10

“Make some noise” and other ways to handle applause and/or feedback
April 22, 2016
Articulate Rise: Next big thing or one small step?
February 9, 2017

(Plus Bonus “How To Best Use It Good” Tips)

Finding good stock imagery is like finding a needle in a veritable haystack (where each haystack is actually a needle in another haystack)… so when you do find the gold it makes it all the more rewarding.

While excavating the depths of stock-land we often come across images that are weird, confusing or just plain cheesy. These are saved in a special lightbox, affectionately called ‘The Cheese Platter’, and we’d like to share with you our Top 10 for 2016.

Without any further ado, we invite you to crack open a bottle of vino and enjoy the 2016 Cheese Awards

#10 – A change is as good as a…

There are many variations on this theme on our trusted stock website, so you can take your pick… Hooray! Take a closer look at the plane and you’ll notice some ingenious design adaptations, our favourite being the crazy Wright Brothers-esque undercarriage design, including handy rear wheel.

Special mention
— On the Nose Award —
How to best use it good:
Just don’t, not even ironically.

#9 – Trust us

While we’re on the ‘aircraft and bad comps’ theme… this pearl ticks all the boxes. This comp succeeds only in destroying everything we know about perspective, geometry, gravity and aviation safety, all the while completely undermining the sense of trust our hard working air crew are trying so hard to convey. Look out!

How to best use it good:
If M.C. Escher pulled a Richard Branson and launched his own airline these would make great billboards… probably.

#8 – And a special thanks to the wardrobe department…

We’re wondering at what point someone decided to pin the lower part of the robe together and how we can contact them to thank them?

Judges’ Pick:
— Cheese, Louise! Award —

How to best use it good:
With a Gaussian blur set at about 400 pixels.

#7 – This is a lot to process

Someone, somewhere believes that someone else, somewhere else will develop an app or website that services the needs of mums-to-be who need to take care of business in between snorkeling excursions in the Maldives.

How to best use it good:
This will be critical to your pitch to investors for said app or website.

#6 – Up, up and away

This prime example of stock cheese ticks more boxes than a stock image of boxes being ticked. Inspirational landscape? Check. Juxtaposition of corporate attire in said landscape? Check. Conceptual rigour? Check. Awkward looking talent? Check. Awesome photo-shopping? Check! Check! Check!

Judges’ Pick:
— Cheese Platter Award —

How to best use it good:
Perfect for staff farewell cards, and while you’re at it, probably save everyone time and make one for yourself.

#5 – Shiny happy people

The caption on the stock library site was ‘Happy group business people in office. Imposing man in the foreground’. Eeek! This left us wondering what a bad day at the office looks like for Team Polyester here? Violence in spandex?

Judges’ Pick:
— Cheese Bored Award —

How to best use it good:
Preferably time travel back to the 90’s first, and even then, maybe limit it to internal comms around dress code and/or gender equality and/or sexual harassment, and/or pamphlets on how not to be ‘imposing’. Also handy as example of how not to create ‘a look’.

#4 – Less cheese, more ham

As unsettling as this image might be, after reading the caption ‘Man cutting sausage for sandwich’, you realise it could have been worse… far, far worse.

Judges’ Pick:
— More Cheese, Less Ham Award —

How to best use it good:
Suitable for most applications except communications around restructuring or special dietary requirements for Christmas parties.

#3 – Work-life balance

We’ve all been here: too busy to come up for air, better to strip off and make the metaphor real so your boss ‘gets it’.

How to best use it good:
This’d make a great pair with our snorkeling mum-to-be (see #7). The options are endless, he could be any one of the following:

  1. The app’s customer support representative
  2. The dad-to-be
  3. Most likely, her PA

#2 – Your turn?

Yep, we went there

Judges’ Pick:
— Stiff Cheddar Award —

How to best use it good:
The only limit here is the range of assumptions you care to make.

And the winner… drum roll please.

#1 – Paper-rock-scissors champions

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, well this one speaks only one: success. Or is it ‘cheese’? Either way, this prime example of corporate stock art really took the cheesecake.

— Extra Cheese Award —

How to best use it good:
As a neat passive-aggressive performance management tool: Print it out, frame it, put it on your desk and when your team members ask who it is you can say, ‘it’s my other team, you know, the one that actually succeeds from time to time.’ Aw, snap!

You’ll be glad to know not one of these photos works of art has made it into any of our courses or products.
We haven’t altered any of these images, they have all been downloaded directly from Shutterstock.

For more eLearning, visit

Leave a Reply