They’re wacky and wondrous, bizarre and tasteless, impossible to explain and somehow captivating. Ladies and gents, welcome to the wacky world of stock photography, where commercial photography meets “what on earth is going on there?” moments, making it one of the internet’s most beloved forms of memes.
And thanks to the Twitter page “Dark Stock Photos” that delivers exactly what it says, we have the most cringy collection to feast on, but with a messed up twist. The Grim Reaper shaking hands with a doctor next to a body laying motionless in a hospital bed? Check. A kid putting a salami tranche into a CD drive? Yep. And it’s pointless listing more, because the craziest thing you can think of—it’s there.
Most of the stock photo gems look absolutely pointless. I mean, who’d need a shot of a woman pointing a baguette at a chef in a bakery robbery? Incredibly, stock imagery is basically a reflection of the demand for very, even if absurdly, specialized imagery.
When a stock bank user is browsing through the archive, they already have a more or less clear specific idea about what they’re looking for. But the whole challenge the commercial photographers face is being ahead of the demand and anticipating users' needs before they even type in the keywords in the search bar.
Usually, it’s the contributing photographers who figure out what the subscribers will be looking for on stock collections like Shutterstock. Then, there are the website's top photographers, illustrators, and videographers who get direct orders from the content team.
With time, stock imagery has become its own aesthetic category that blends the hyperrealism and absurdity of everyday life. It’s exactly what makes them so appealing for an internet that’s inherently run by jokes, memes, and everything that doesn’t fit the definition.