The 15 Worst Holiday Stock Photos of 2014

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We here at Capterra, like many other companies, use stock photos for many of our blog images. And stock photos, as I’m sure you know, can be notoriously bad. We* have actually been keeping a running collection of our favorite worst ones (this one tops our list–he’s the happiest person who ever cleaned anything).

But stock photos make our content marketing jobs easier. You don’t want to waste time searching the Internet for the perfect image just to find you can’t license it. It’s so much easier to enter your keywords in your preferred stock photo site and come up with a half decent image and slap it in there.

However, to help point out the pitfalls(and to give you a laugh), we’ve put together a list of the very worst holiday stock photos we’ve found so far.

Avoid these at all costs.

*Cara Wood and Rachel Burger

The Weirdest Santa Photos

Worst Holiday Stock photos

Official Description: DJ Santa Claus mixing up some Christmas cheer. Disco lights in the background.

Here, Santa is trying to be “hip” and “in” with the kids. But he would have been better off sporting a Skrillex ‘do instead of the bunch of bad color effects. Rave on, Mr. Claus.

Worst Holiday Stock Photos Drunk Santa

Official Description: Drunk Santa Claus. A drunk Santa Claus and ripe with bad attitude.

This drunk Santa needs ho-ho-ho-help. We think this photo might have captured Santa Claus in his young and rebellious years, but we can’t be sure. He doesn’t have a gut or a white beard, so we can only infer that he’s Santa from the half-open suit. And since he’s “ripe with bad attitude,” we can only assume that Bigstock is implying that he smells bad (not surprising–he doesn’t look like he’s showered in a while).

Drunk Santa Claus, by the way, is pretty big theme for holiday stock photos. It’s unclear exactly why, but we think that the photographers are just a little too into spiked eggnog for anyone’s good.

Santa was arrested for being a Bad Boy after getting drunk on el

Official Description: Santa was arrested for being a Bad Boy after getting drunk on elderberry wine left out by the elves. Apparently Elves feel no effect from Elderberry Wine but it looks like Santa sure does.

This is a personal favorite. The picture is definitely weird–Santa’s taking a mug shot and it looks like he might be dancing? But the description is what really makes this picture. It’s such a detailed little story that leaves the viewer with so many questions.

Who came up with it? Why did they come up with it? How did they come up with it? Why do elves drink elderberry wine? Why do they clearly drink so much elderberry wine? What does Mrs. Claus think about all this? Does she have a great tolerance too? Do the elves and Mrs. Claus drink together? Is Mrs. Claus cheating on Santa with an elf?!

Smiling muscular man posing in sexy santa outfit offering gift a

Official Description: Smiling muscular man posing in sexy santa outfit offering gift against snow falling

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without some sex appeal.

Helloooo, Mr. Sexy Santa Man. We don’t understand why someone added snow and sparkle computer graphics over you, but we accept your gift none-the-less. Especially if you’re planning on cooking breakfast shirtless.

This photo might be good on an adult novelty site, but otherwise, stay far, far away.

Santa's List

Official Description: Mrs Claus reviewing the naughty and nice list with an attentive man

We ask: Who is this attentive man? Why is Mrs. Claus going over the naughty or nice list? Why does that man look scared for his life? Our understanding was that Mrs. Claus was just as jolly as her husband, but that’s clearly not the case here. The gender inversion isn’t quite subversive enough to have deep meaning–it’s just confusing.

Worst holiday stock photos

Official description: Santa in Da Hood: A black Santa Points a Pistol Directly at YOU THE VIEWER in this series of Santa Gone Bad.

That is the exact description as it appears on the stock photo site. The all-caps and racist suggestions are the photographer’s. With such an awkward description, they might as well have made the obvious pun and written “Santa in da hat.”

But seriously. In what world would you use this stock photo?

The Strange Winter Woman

Christmas Woman. Beautiful New Year and Christmas Tree Holiday H

Official Description: Christmas Woman. Beautiful New Year and Christmas Tree Holiday Hairstyle and Make up. Beauty Girl Portrait. Colorful Makeup, Hair, Nail polish and Accessories. Surprised Woman. Open Mouth, Emotions

There were at least four contestants in the weird winter women category. We spent a long time deliberating on which was the worst. (Here’s the runner up by, by the way. That golden ball she’s holding–that’s what “a miracle” looks like apparently.)

This particular lady leaves the viewer painfully confused. Why is she wearing half a decorated Christmas tree? And why is she presumably naked otherwise? Why did she need a background of polka dots? It was really the background that made this one the worst for us. The other ladies at least looked like they were a part of a holiday fantasy. Polka-dot lady just looks like a normal (nude) woman in front of a polka dot background wearing the weirdest hairstyle ever.

The Ugly Holiday Sweater Gets Taken to New Heights

Gorilla Wearing Santa Hat
Official Description: Gorilla Wearing Santa Hat – An angry blue gorilla wearing a Santa Hat. Bah Humbug

This man-in-a-blue-gorilla-suit comes with no explanation whatsoever beyond “bah humbug.” We’re pretty sure that if Dr. Seuss had gone with this strange gorilla character instead of the Grinch, he would have had a hard time convincing children to even consider reading his famous Christmas story. Again, this photo leaves readers wondering: Did the gorilla eat Santa? Why do his eyes look vacant? What are we supposed to take away from this?

Funny clown with red giftbox

Official Description: Funny clown with red giftbox

“Funny clown?” More like “creepy man from our nightmares.” We would be hesitant to accept a gift from any stranger, but a gift from a bug-eyed clown only spells trouble. If you catch this man coming down your chimney, immediately call the police. He is probably very bad news. And you should definitely hide any and all children from him. He seems like the sort to drive a white van and give away candy.

creepy christmas man

Official Description: man is funny dressed for the Christmas party

We’ve heard of Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties. We’ve even heard of Onesie Pub Crawls. But we couldn’t come up with a situation where this man would be dressed the way he is and accepted by any functioning part of society. This poor model is dressed like an exotic reindeer dancer. We’re not sure where he’s pointing to especially since he has twizzled red antlers, but we can conclude that if he’s going to dress like that, he should probably stay home.

The Office Christmas Party Gone Bad

Pushy guy checks his breath under the mistletoe at the office Ch

Official Description: Pushy guy checks his breath under the mistletoe at the office Christmas party. Isolated on white.

Yeah… this guy is about to spark the biggest sexual harassment case to date. Need I say more?

Use this photo only to illustrate your HR presentation of what not to do.


Official Description: Holiday party gone wrong! This office worker vomits in a office trash can after consuming too much alcohol while embarassing himself with his collegues.

What’s more embarrassing than spelling “embarrassing” and “colleagues” wrong? Throwing up at an office party. What’s even more awkward is that this poor guy is isolated on white. It’s just you, his cheap santa outfit, and a presumably filled trashcan. Easy on the eggnog, buddy.

Three pregnant women hat toasting for Christmas, smiling and lo

Official Description: Three pregnant women hat toasting for Christmas, smiling and looking at camera

Let’s start with the obvious problem with this photo: it features three very pregnant women drinking. Their little bundles of joy (complete with a bow on top) aren’t going to appreciate all of mommy’s alcohol intake. We were left baffled with what kind of situation could have landed these poor women in this situation–surrounded by gifts, naked except for their bras, sweatpants, santa hats, and boas, and half-smiling, half-glaring at the camera.

The Cringe-Worthiest Hannukah Photos


Official Description: A man lights a candle for the holiday of Hanukkah vector

Normally cartoons are a safe bet for stock photos. They tend to be tasteful and simple. Not so with this photo.

Is there really any reason to tell the audience that he’s Jewish by playing up the big nose stereotype? I’m pretty sure the yarmulke and menorah are enough, thanks.

Little boy playing dreidel and eating chocolate Hanukkah gelt.

Official Description: Little boy playing dreidel and eating chocolate Hanukkah gelt. White background.

Anyone who’s actually played a game of dreidel knows–this is not how it ends. This little boy was either playing by himself or the game ended before all the gelt were distributed. The poor boy is very confused. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to figure out how to eat it. It’s clear he’s not going quickly enough–that chocolate gets all over your fingers and face fast.


There were so many bad stock photos that we struggled to pare the list down to a mere fifteen. What are your favorite bad holiday stock photos? Share your links (and comments) below!

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About the Authors


Cara Wood

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.


Rachel Burger

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Rachel is a former Capterra analyst who covered project management.


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