Picture frame families, PSA's and advertisements - who are the people behind these generic stock photos and did they know what they were signing up for? Much like Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, some of these models had no idea what their photos would be used for until the stumbled across themselves being used for some very odd photo purposes.
Someone on Reddit was curious about this genre of photography and asked: "People in stock photos, what's the weirdest way you've seen your photos being used?" Well, as you can imagine there were some pretty weird answers, from adorable childhood photos being used as a poster for adoption to sweet couple photos being used for AIDS awareness these people were definitely not expecting their modeling career to go this way. Scroll down to see all the hilarious answers and don't forget to upvote your favs! (Facebook cover image: pixabay)
This takes place many, many years ago when foreigners were a rare sight in Japan. I'm a big, friendly looking white guy, and I was asked to do some photos of "a couple on a date."
So I go around to some scenic locals with a beautiful Japanese woman, the photographer, and his assistants. Fun day. Took tons of romantic photos. And that was the end of it...
Until a month or two later when my "date" and I showed up on posters all over the subway as part of an AIDS awareness campaign (because you can catch that from foreigners, y'know!)
Needless to say my friends and coworkers thought it was hilarious, and amazingly it didn't have any noticeable impact on my dating life. Looking back my only regret is that I didn't steal one of the posters.
I ended up finding myself on one of those “Now Hiring” posts on Facebook... for a company I was trying to get hired at
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 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 knew a girl who was reaaaally full of herself, but really shouldn't have been.
One of her stock photos got used on an article about people who are self-centered.
It. Was. Perfect.
I modelled a bit in college and walked into a store in my local mall one day. They had this huge Valentine’s Day section with gift selections for different “types” of girls with pictures of models. There was the “sexy “girl, “adventurous” girl, “funny” girl and then my picture with just the word “other girl”...
We found out this past Christmas that my uncle’s stock photo of him at a spa had been turned into a hummus meme. Just him, soaking in a bathtub full of hummus.
For context, my ex and I were an interracial couple (Asian/White) and both born in the US.
We were used in some passport-style and portrait photo studios in Vietnam. We did some other photos, one which included us opening a car trunk near a beach-side town, pretending to be on vacation. One day a friend sent us screenshots from an Asian Female/Western Male dating website with our photos on the page.
Below each photo were "our" testimonials, written in Vietnamese with something along the lines of: "What a life! We're a real Cinderella story come true! She used to be a simple country girl and now she's about to get a green card to live a happy and fulfilling life in the US! Thanks (DATING SITE)!"
While peeing at a bar I found myself looking at myself.
I was used in a campaign about alcohol abuse. The particular pictures they used were drunk me about to punch my girlfriend, and drunk me pushing my friend while I was trying to get into my car to drive.
That night I ended up being rather popular with the bar patrons and had to reenact the photos with various strangers.
My husband and I did stock photos when I was pregnant with our first. I ended up seeing myself later on the side of a bus as well as in a pamphlet for young moms (flattering!) at my doctor's office.
The more interesting part, though, is that my husband took part in another "family" shoot, various poses cooking in the kitchen etc. Years later I was looking up a colleague on Facebook and her cover photo was her and my husband chopping vegetables in a stock photo.
When I was a senior in high school, I was chosen to do a stock photo shoot for a big health company. They didn’t tell me what they were going to use my pictures for, I was just excited to get free clothes and a tiny bit of cash. The way I found out how they used my photo was when I went to the gynecologist about a year later and saw my picture on the wall - I was the face of teenage pregnancy counseling.
Edit: I was definitely NOT pregnant, I actually think I was still a virgin when the photo shoot happened
My whole family modeled back in the 80s. Somehow my dad ended up in a brochure for some born again church that said he was a sinner and adulterer until he found jesus.
In college a photography student took some pictures of me playing classical guitar; I ended up in a viagra ad. I was 19.
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
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 let a photographer friend take a stock photo of me. I looked sad in it and it ended up on some website about victims of abuse.
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.
My ex used to work with a local photographer who is apparently pretty well known. He took a photo of me and my family and now it’s a permanent piece at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. So strange. I wonder how many people’s houses I’m in.
So I like to work as an extra in commercials and stock photo graphy. I knew a shoot I was doing was for an expensive large tech company but they didn't tell me what it was for.
A few weeks later my friends who work at said tech company told me they saw my photo in those mandatory sexual harassment training courses online.
So yeah probably that.
Not me, but a buddy of mine dated someone whose photo was used in picture frames. She hadn't mentioned this to my buddy, however. The two of them were in Macys one day and he turned to say something to her and realized behind her was a full wall of frames, all with her photo in it. She hadn't looked that way and apparently his expression was of sheer terror.
My friend was in a stock photo where he held up a baby picture, and it got used for an anti-circumcision ad campaign. Was pretty shocked when I saw his face on the side of a bus
I was asked to go to a big opening event party for a park in China. As a "foreigner" this kind of thing is pretty common, they want some white faces.
Free food & drink, all the other guests had to pay. But in the end they start guilt tripping me... "Put on this traditional Chinese costume" they say, some kind of kung fu looking robe thing... "let us take some pictures" they say... Fine, I let them do it.
A few weeks go by and random people start pointing me out in public. My students are giggling in class.
Finally when I'm out and about someone approaches me... "are you the guy.. from..." and shows me a picture on the phone, my likeness in chinese traditional wear has been printed on building sized billboards around the city. I look goofy as f**k. All around the city where I live and work.
Not me, but my younger brother had his picture taken when he was about nine or ten for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. My brother was a really cute red headed kid with freckles and they asked my mom if they could use his photo for their promotional materials. A few months later, we get a brochure in the mail with my brother's face on it talking about the Big Brother's program. It was really funny because they had changed his name to " Timmy" and in little kid handwriting written things like, " I reely need a big brotha" and " have you found me a big brotha yet?" And then ended it with " Love, Timmy". My siblings and I laughed a lot over it and called my brother " Timmy" for weeks.
The university took a bunch of professional photos of me and some friends for their billboards and campaigns.
I was pretty surprised to open a handbook and find out I was the face of their fine arts program. Especially pottery. I was a neuroscience major.
My father is a photographer and so my sister and I were models for stock photography. I was on shopping bags in Mexico, my sister was in a bank brochure. My favorite though is when my sister's high school science class was reading from a textbook an she sees a picture of me, putting mascara on in a mirror. She yelled out to the class, "Hey that's my sister!" Apparently it gave everyone a good laugh.
On a less funny note, I was a kinda chubby kid so my dad did a whole shoot of me in a grey tracksuit looking sad on a scale, and pinching my belly fat in the mirror....etc....ended up on being used in a child obesity campaign. He didn't tell me what it was used in until years later.
My parents once went into a print shop near-ish to where they lived and saw a picture frame for sale with an oddly familiar looking stock photo in it for display. You know how frames usually come with some flimsy B&W stock photo of a couple or a family or something. Except it wasn't a stock photo, it was them on their wedding day!! Apparently their photographer had some kind of connection to the shop and had his photos on display there. My parents were definitely surprised to see their wedding pics on public display, but they thought it was cute :)
I won a body transformation contest on a bodybuilding site when I was 17.
10 years later, I and others I knew started seeing my photos in ads for random supplements I had never heard of.
I had a very small modeling career in middle and high school. My first real photo shoot was for stock photos. The deal was around $100 and I signed the rights to the photos over to the photographer, but was able to add the photos to my portfolio. When I got the photos I hated them (I was super nervous and looked uncomfortable in most of them). Needless to say, I was never called back to that photographer. At the end of high school I had to decide if I was going to pursue modeling or go to college for teaching. I choose to be a teacher. Fast forward to 8 years later, one of my coworkers mentioned that the picture on the loading screen of the grading program looked like me. I never needed to use the program being the special education co-teacher. Well, we pulled up the gradebook and there it was, one of the awful stock photos I took. The photo was their logo and loading screen for several years. That company/program is used by school districts in over 70 countries. All of my surrounding counties also use it. I still find it funny that being a teacher is probably the only way I would have found out about it.
Funny side story, my husband works at the same school and for three years of entering grades he did not notice that picture was me. When we finally showed him he said "Oh I did think you looked alot alike."
A friend of ours was in a commercial for herpes medication a couple of years after we graduated college, and we recognized him randomly while watching a show with my mother in law.
We were like, “hey it’s [our friend] from school!”
We went to a school with strong religious ties and my mother in law is very religious.
Right after we said this my mother in law was appalled and said, “wait, he has herpes????!!!”