Professional models get used to seeing their face in unexpected places, but stock photo models are often amateurs. They may only appear in one set of photos and never think about it again—until they suddenly see themselves staring back from a billboard or magazine ad, or even a PSA.
Reddit user u/FreddTM asked:
When I was a kid my mom took me for a photoshoot, then a month later I was on a pamphlet that said “Millions of children don’t have homes, adopt one today”
I'm in the header of my university's grad school application. Whenever someone posts a screenshot of their acceptance email, Facebook facial recognition asks if I want to tag myself.
I ended up finding myself on one of those “Now Hiring” posts on Facebook... for a company I was trying to get hired at.
I’m on the opposite end. I’m a graphic designer so I spend a lot of time on stock photo sites and I have SO many questions. Some of the photos I’ve seen....there’s no possible context that would make sense for them to be used anywhere.
My family did a stock photo shoot when our kids where young (like 1 and 3). A picture they took on our porch ended up in the opening credits for The Americans.
Not me but my best friend: He did a photo shoot in some construction-worker garb and a hard hat. We live in North Carolina USA. I'm on a business trip in Chicago, and I stop by a Walmart for some supplies. I'm in the men's work clothes isle and there's my buddy prominently on the wrapping of 50ish packages of work shirts. It was a weird "wait, where am I?" moment. I knew he did some modeling, but not specifics.
I sent him a pic, he had no idea it had been used. The guy is in every Walmart in the country and had no idea.
I did a stock photo shoot about 10 years ago and my photos show up in the weirdest places:
3 ex-boyfriends have texted me out of the blue after my stock photo showed up in their work training modules
Someone in my senior capstone class used my photo in their class presentation and didn't realize it was me until everyone kept awkwardly looking at the screen and looking back at me.
Every so often, my face pops up in a "sassy black lady" meme, paired with text like "DEVIL DON'T TRY ME TODAY!" or "TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED! TYPE AMEN IF YOU AGREE!"
The weirdest in my opinion: My mom decided to join some crappy MLM makeup company because she was flipping through their catalog and saw that they had used one of my old stock photos as one of their makeup models. I was very obviously not wearing their makeup in the photos and my stock photo didn't match any of the other models' photos. Basically, whoever designed the catalog was like "oh snap, we need some diversity in here", but they were too lazy to actually hire another model so they just grabbed a stock photo of a black chick and called it a day.
The strange thing is that my mom joined the company because my photo was in the catalog, but she had to have known that I wasn't wearing the company's makeup....because she personally did my makeup for that stock photo shoot 5+ years earlier.
I'm in an add campaign in my home state in Australia for the government. I'm the face of "don't buy alcohol for underage people". It's just me looking like a Dad who's thinking of buying a drink, obviously for a teenager some where. Ironically I don't actually have my own kids. I get emails from people I haven't heard from in years saying "I saw you on the wall of the bottle shop!" Which is kinda funny.
I have some friends that found one of their wedding pictures from Facebook somehow printed on a pillow in a market in a middle-eastern country. Like... they just randomly happened upon their wedding photo in a random street market.
They are from the U.S.
I didn't even know I was in a stock photo until my Grandma bought a picture frame at Sears with my t-ball team picture in it.