Monday, 27 April 2015
The creepiness of stock photos
Stock photos are often just plain wrong, often hilariously so. Early this year the Tories illustrated their slogan ‘Let’s Stay on the Road to a Stronger Economy’ with a photo of a road near Weimar in Germany. In 2009 the BNP promoted an anti-immigration campaign with a photo of a WW2 Spitfire plane – one belonging to a squadron flown by Polish pilots. (Wiki: ‘By the end of the war, around 19,400 Poles were serving in the Polish Air Force in Great Britain and in RAF.’)
And even if they’re not wrong, they’re creepy. For a take-down of stock photos of office life (those teeth), see this Buzzfeed selection, helpfully paired with extracts from the books shortlisted for last year’s Bad Sex Award.
The ones that currently irritate me most – because I’m among the prime target audience for the ads they are used in – are the ones illustrating anything to do with ‘retirement’: rural or seaside settings, clothes in pastel shades, deckchairs, hammocks, golf. And if I were one of the grandchildren who sometimes feature in these stock photos, I wouldn’t be just irritated, I’d be angry. Education, health and politics itself given over to business management; a blindness to the effects of climate change; increasing inequality between rich and poor, a housing crisis as never before – this is what they (we) are leaving behind, these grandads and grandmums, as they stroll off into the sunset with their ISAs and their pensions and their wistful smiles.