1. 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.”
2. 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.
3. I ended up finding myself on one of those “Now Hiring” posts on Facebook… for a company I was trying to get hired at.
4. My cousin took a photo of me wrestling my sister at a family reunion a few years back and it somehow wound up on an online forum about domestic abuse, I had a few of my friends messaging me who were obviously very confused.
5. 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.
6. 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!”
7. 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 somewhere. 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.
8. 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.
9. In college a photography student took some pictures of me playing classical guitar; I ended up in a viagra ad. I was 19.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. My ex was on a bus stop ad for her college but someone turned her into hitler with a missing tooth.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. When I got married, we signed the line that allowed the photographer to sell the photos for commercial purposes, not thinking much of it.
Unexpectedly-unhealthy marriage lasted a long 3 months (story for another post), and about 4 months after the split, a pic of us showed up on the front page of a prominent local magazine. This led to several people at work leaving bringing it to my attention. Slightly embarrassing and mortifying at the time, but still found the humor in it.
18. 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.
19. I was part of an after school program in elementary called SCORES that combined soccer and poetry. One day, my coach hands me a SCORES pamphlet with an action shot of me running along the field with a soccer ball. That doesn’t sound all that bad, right? Except it took up the entire page, with my “early bloomers” smack dab in the middle cause 5th grade me didn’t know what sports bras were. I was surprised they used it, and all the kids who saw made fun of me.
20. 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.
21. I had an evil looking mustache and my photos were available for use.
I ended up as the main photo on one article about spotting a “mansplainer”.
I also ended up on macaulay culkins blog as a long lost mario brother.
22. I modeled 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”…
23. 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)!”
24. I took part in a public health PSA campaign back in the 90s in New York City.
They ended up using my photo in the campaign for STDs.
25. Not me, but my then 75 year old Mom. She did some photos for Canada Post and some with a walker for another company. For years there were pictures of her in Canada Post outlets across the country. 17 years later and I know at least one outlet has it up. Probably more.
As for the walker, she didn’t need one at the time but there were ads of her with one in the Home Care catalog of Shoppers Drug Mart. People in her building would recognize her from the ad and exclaim “Oh!! You got better!” Mom stopped explaining and just went with it.
26. My cousin attended university and they took a photo of her and put it in ads. She quit shortly before the ads were up.
27. Had a stock photo of my sleeping. Someone cropped it down so only my upper head was showing, filled my hair with blood, and now I’m a corpse on a Stephen King book cover in Russia.
28. A picture of me being tattooed ended up in a city newspaper condemning tattooed youth who are a drain and burden on resources as they are “unemployable” – I had just been accepted to premed.
29. Have a friend who had both legs amputated at birth. From the UK. He’s lived a fine life and plays some wheelchair basketball. He found an advert of himself which described him as a poor boy who recently (he was 18) lost his legs and need thought and prayers from a religious American facebook group. Thousands of thought and prayers were sent thankfully.
30. When my ex-fiance graduated from his pharmacy tech program, they asked to take photos of him for their brochures and what not (I guess he looked like how a pharmacy tech should?). Jokes on them….he became a drug addict soon after. Hope they never used them to promote their program….
31. I’m a graphic designer. Once I took a picture of my nephews sitting on the ground, bare feet, all their faces dirty after a long afternoon of playing outside and use it in an advertising campaign to help homeless kids in south america.
32. One of mine is frequently found on the home page of major news outlets.
I wake up to messages from people that think I did something special.
“Dozer you’re on the home page of MSN” “Dozer you’re on the home page of Forbes”
Ive been on almost all of the big ones. I did not expect any of that when I took it.
33. I saw my neighbor in a fetish magazine that featured women pouring relish all over their genitals.
34. 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.
35. I remember one story I read here about a girl who did stock photos, and they ended up on vibrator batteries.
36. I used to lead horseback riding trips in the Rockies. I had this Japanese man come on a ride once, and he took some photos of me on horseback. No big deal, lots of tourists did that. I found out at the end of the season that I was front and center on his tourist brochure selling horseback riding trips catering specifically to Japanese tourists. Apparently, he promised them that I would be their guide. That was weird.
37. 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.
38. Photographer took a picture on the first day of College with me and my two friends, They quit within the first month. I spiraled in a depression for the rest of the year and transferred out because I got a job dependent on being in school.
2 years later as a concussion was making it difficult for me to stay in school the picture was used in recruiting material at the college.
One guy’s mother even worked for the college and obviously wasn’t on the committee making those decisions.
39. 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.
40. Writing for a friend. He does voiceover work, not stock photography. His cousin was in a Home Depot and heard his voice. He was very confused looking for my friend in a set of aisles, he could hear the voice, but could not find his cousin. Calling out his name. The voice would come and then stop before he found him.
Eventually realized that the voice was coming out of a kiosk.
41. Not really for a stock photo, but I was soldering some copper pipe when a photographer asked if I could stop for a minute and pose for a picture for some promotional pictures. They were for a collage of the skills taught in the program I was in.
They didn’t want a picture of me soldering anything though. No, they wanted me to pretend I was soldering. I told them, “You know, I could actually solder something for you.” They said no because it, “wouldn’t look real enough.” Whatever that means.
42. Not me, but my cats. When I was a teen my mother and I adopted a couple special needs kittens. One had a clubfoot that was fixed through a series of casts, and the other had a malformed front leg. My mother wanted some professional pictures taken of the little guys, so she took them to one of those mall photo places. The pictures turned out so well that the company asked Mom’s permission to use them in adverts. They even blew one up to poster size and hung it in the window. The picture that they used was the kitties sitting in a basket with only their heads poking out, so you couldn’t see their legs. Nobody walking by knew that there was anything different about these cats.
43. Before the 2016 election, my apartment was getting tons of political mailers and pamphlets in the mail daily on who/what to vote for. I was going through the mail one day and see what looks like my roommate on a flier that supported increasing taxes in order to fund homeless shelters. I was so confused because it was definitely her (same moles), she was in an army uniform (never served in the military), and she definitely wasn’t homeless.
Turns out she had taken some stock photos for a photographer in exchange for free headshots. We still have the mailer up on our fridge.
44. At my former company a middle aged black woman agreed to take a photo looking “melancholy” and ended up on the section of the “employee arbitration” agreement of the employee handbook. So you just see a title with “employee disputes” and it’s her looking somewhat pissed.
45. I found a photo from my private FB account on a news article then a stock image site. It was a helicopter I worked on out in the snow in Minnesota. They said it was Afghanistan in the article. I disputed the photo but it’s still there. I no longer post photos on FB because of this.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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????!!!”
49. I was on a brochure to promote my company once. It was the generic “Look to your left and smile at the camera while you work” type of shot.
50. One of my daughters has a few stock photos out there. It’s always odd seeing her face unexpectedly. It doesn’t happen super regularly, but it makes me double take when it happens.
51. I got used as a person with intellectual disabilities. I also did not know my photo was going to be used for anything.
52. I had my photo taken in high school studying with my friend at the time. Almost five years later, my brother said I was in the county brochure for library services. The picture was most likely chosen cause of the diversity (asian girl and a black girl).
53. 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.
54. 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.
55. 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 fuck. All around the city where I live and work.
56. I googled my husband’s name and a picture of him has been mistaken and mislabeled as Ann Coulter’s husband.
57. In the military some cameraman tagged along on a mission. Like 4 years later I saw footage of me in a gun turret on the news. I guess news broadcasters often times just play generic combat footage and photos that look “middle-easterny” enough and rightly assume nobody will notice that the shots were taken months or years before the actual incident they are talking about.
58. 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.
59. 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.
60. 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.