Stock Photos of You

I ran across an amusing article this week in Jezebel, called The World According to Stock Photos of Women. It analyzes in a tongue and cheek way what women do with their days if we go only by the evidence of stock photos. They sip coffee from mugs, feel perplexed by computers, eat lots of fruit, and live in pale blue surroundings.

It got me thinking about the idea of stock photos in general and what uses we have for them and what their limits are.

Can’t you tell a mile away if something is a stock photo? My own photos are crappy, often taken with an iPhone, generally with a hazy shadow cast by my thumb over the microscopic lens… but they depict somewhere I’ve been, something I’ve seen… so they hopefully have a little bit of personality.

What would your life look like if depicted in stock photos only?

  • You’re a man or woman dressed like you’re a waiter at Applebees.
  • You have 2.5 children who are smiling, the girls in pigtails.
  • You hang out in a multi-generational crew of people with perfect teeth, with lots of hugging.
  • You work in a clean cubicle, and you smile because you like it.

What would your life look like if you were photographed “as is?”

  • A smudge on your clothes occasionally
  • Frequently captured in a favorite sweatshirt
  • Hanging out alone or with one or two besties who may or may not look like you
  • Working with piles around you

Who would you rather meet — a stock photo person or a regular glorious person who’s sometimes a screw-up? There’s a spectrum, and I’m exaggerating, but really now… don’t we all know it when a stock photo purports to depict real life (and fails)?

One thought on “Stock Photos of You


  1. “Working with piles around you”. That just made me feel a little more human, a little less lame. I constantly have piles around my house. I try to hide them when people come over (the bad ones, the not-so-bad stay out). I marvel at people who’s houses do not have piles. I spend time musing how they manage to sort through all the decisions that piles embody (where to put it? do i need it? i need to call about that. has he outgrown this? should i save this? if so, back to question 1…). Thanks for bringing me back to reality! Thanks for having piles, too. 🙂

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