Stock Photos. They're pretty much ubiquitous in our daily lives: they're used on signs, billboards, internet ads, and seemingly everywhere else.
As a digital artist, I use stock photos for references when sketching out a new painting, sometimes they even end up as part of a finished piece. Most people don't really think about where these photos come from though.
Reddit user MegaWorldTime asked:
"People who can be found in a stock photo, what's your story?"
Some of the responses were what you might expect, a model takes a job doing a stock photo shoot, but others were completely out of the ordinary.
Some responses have been edited for content/clarity.
Pretend You Know What You're Doing
About 15 years ago, my eldest sister was working for an ad agency. Shoot day came around and one of her models called in sick about two hours before they were scheduled to start shooting. Cue my phone ringing back home. I was about 16 at the time with zero modelling experience, zero self confidence and had just had a rather questionable hair cut. I ended up racing over there not having a clue what I had said yes to, under strict instruction to pretend I was 18, a professional model and that we didn’t know each other. It was the most frantic, random, awkward, hilarious experience and I forgot to ask what the photos were for. 15 years later my sister finds the ripped out Panadol (paracetamol) ad on a page of a European magazine and we both have a good old giggle.
Gee, Thanks Mom
My mum's best friend is a photographer. She did a lot of stock photos of her son with him just smiling in different situations. One day he opens a (very popular in my home country) teenage themed magazine and sees himself hanging onto a soccer goal with a big smile on his face on a page about erectile disfunction...
Must Keep A Straight Face
I'm in one, I was the guy standing over someone's shoulder pointing at the screen. We were supposed to pretend to talk and keep moving the mouse around. We basically just kept monologuing about stupid stuff then got told off by the photographer for laughing.
I still haven't seen what those pictures were used for, if anything.
So back in 1996, Bill Clinton stopped in my home town during his election campaign and the kids at my elementary school was asked to participate in a ceremony held out front the public library. Well those photos are now used as stock photos on Alamy and I appear in one of them. BTW: I'm the red headed boy.
I used to work for an outdoors shop and the company would often ask staff to send in reviews of kit to publish in their catalogue along with a photo of you in said kit or using whatever gear you were reviewing. I sent in a review of new softshell trousers and it was published - all pretty typical.
Then I got a call asking if they could use the pic for the website - so I figured they'd just publish my review under the product on their website. But no, they used my pic as the stock pic for the particular brand I was wearing. So you had all these professional outdoors models with chiselled jaws or legs for days in the photos for each brand.... And lil old me with my gimpy smile representing my fave brand.
There was a casting call for stock models and I applied... half jokingly
I made $200 for sitting around by a pond for four hours getting my picture taken. I really hope they never get used, but all in all solid gig 10/10.
Jack Of All Trades
I am a 40 something, pasty-ass white man. I am a hoodied thug in 2 different tv ads, an office boss in another, a lightsaber-wielding nerd in another, a frustrated office worker who's salty language gets censored, a bow-hunter, a spy, and many voice characters. It's fun.
If you watch the outdoor channel or travel channel or discovery or oann or awe or youtube you probably saw but still wouldn't remember me lol.
At Least Your Photo Made It To Europe
We had a family friend who was a photographer, he took photos of my brother and I growing up for memories and to practice photography.
He got some good shots of us playing around in the mud one day, and asked if he could sell the photos to be used as stock photos. Sure, why the heck not.
5 years later we got a phone call from someone traveling internationally. They saw a photo of us in an ad in Europe. Hearing that has a 10 year old jazzed me for days.
That Must Be Awkward
When I was 14 I was pretty overweight, but I didn't really care. At the time it was 2006ish so news stories about Childhood Obesity were all the rage. My friend's dad was a stock photographer and I guess it was noticeable that I'd always joke around about being fat, so he asked his son (my friend) to ask me if it'd be okay to take some neck-down photos of my torso in exchange for a video game or something. I agreed, my parents signed off, and to this day a number of news articles about childhood obesity every year have my 14-year-old belly in the stock photo.
(I'll never tell you which ones, and I've leaned out now)
She's Just Proud Of You
Actual stock photos, not digital ones, the ones that come in the backs of picture frames that you're supposed to discard. I was a child model when I was five or six years old. They did one shoot where I had a fake family (mom, dad, brother) and they had us walk along the beach together. I guess they don't change stock photos very often, because ten years later my mom was walking through a random Hallmark and found a picture frame with that stock photo in it. She still has it on a shelf in our house, me and three strangers.