Originally Published February 27, 2021
Stock photos are weird. On one hand, it makes sense: professional models pose in different scenarios that one is likely to be a part of in life so that eventually a company wishing to use said photo in an advertisement can just buy the photo instead of hiring models and photographers. But on the other hand, it doesn’t make sense: Sure, some of the photos reflect actual things that real people do or might do in life, but there are an awful lot of stock photos that don’t show anything realistic at all.
What we’re going to do today is provide examples of unusual stock photos and try to guess what they mean or how they’d be used. You’ll notice that these pictures will still have a watermark. That’s because I didn’t want to pay for them and the consideration for free use is that the pictures will still have watermarks.
Woman Who Hates Fish
Clearly this is a photo that would be used in a gun ad at a store that sells guns. The twist is that this isn’t a gun ad at an outdoors store like Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop. This is at an upscale gun range that caters to Yuppies. But it clearly doesn’t cater to guppies (I’m so sorry for that joke, but I couldn’t help myself).
This ad says, “buy a gun so you can protect yourself, even if a fish breaks in and tries to rob you.” But it’s deeper than that. See the joy on that woman’s face? She’s relishing the moment. She’s savoring the fear in the fish’s eyes. She’s drunk on a power she’s never felt before, and this fish is the straw of murder that will break the camel’s back of bloodlust. This woman is not to be taken lightly.
Woman On A Low-Carb Diet
Obviously this is an ad for the Atkins diet. This lady is on a low-carb diet (not that she needs it, because that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying this is literally the only possible explanation for why this photograph exists). She has gotten over the first hump of staving off the cravings, and now she’s trying to sharpen her will even more by purposely putting a single, uncooked potato on a dishwasher-safe plate so she can remind herself who the enemy is while she works on her Etsy page.
Seriously, though. Couldn’t they have at least put a tempting potato product on the plate? French fries, maybe? Possibly a baked potato? Perhaps a big ol’ plate of mashed potatoes? But no. They went with an uncooked potato because that’s the third most recognizable type of carbohydrate behind a loaf of bread and a bowl of pasta.
Fish Leaving Bad Neighborhood
This fish has seen some stuff in the old neighborhood. He’s lived there since it was a quaint suburb. But now urban sprawl has creeped into his Rockwellian oasis. Crime is up, drug use is up, and just the other day his cousin was killed by a bloodthirsty woman in a business suit after she caught him breaking in. She must have gotten a deal on that gun.
So this ad is targeted at fish? No! It’s aimed at humans. The fish is allegorical. It’s saying, “it’s time to move out to a further suburb, get a mortgage on a house straight out of the Chip and Joanna Gaines collection, and get away from the urban decay.” But they couldn’t use a real human leaving because focus groups indicated the ads came off a teensy bit racist. The solution? Fish.
Teens Sharing a Flip Flop
This is the most obvious one so far, right? I mean, it’s obviously a public service announcement trying to get teenagers and young adults to put down their phones and computers and just live in the moment. Unfortunately for the teens pictured here, it’s too late. They have been so plugged in that they’ve forgotten how to function without Instagram.
This ad is showing what can happen if you don’t have technology-free times on occasion. You’ll get so used to playing games and looking at memes that you’ll forget how items like flip flops even work. The kicker is that those kids don’t even know whose flip flop that is.
French Army Recruiting Poster
More and more militaries around the world are trying to get more women to enlist. Most nations try and get folks to sign up by offering free college, world travel, and extensive training that will be useful in the civilian world, too. But France has decided to go a different route by showing a female special forces operator executing a daring assassination of an undercover ISIS agent who was posing as a barista and pastry chef.
Sure, the USA has “be all that you can be,” but France has “sign up and kill usurpers.”
Dallas Mavericks Fans
This couple is clearly from Plano. They’re huge Mavericks fans, and they’re watching the pregame show with Jeff “Skin” Wade giving projections for the game. This photo captures the moment they see Kristaps Porzingis is out due to leg and back problems.