Stock photo services like Shutterstock or iStock can be problematic. On one hand, they save writers and editors desperately searching for an appropriate photo for a post or article. On the other hand, the result is viewers seeing the same images again and again that become half-official representations of regular topics.
If you have no photo to go along with a criminal incident, it's always possible to turn to the generic photo of a police vehicle and if there are wounded, there's always the photo of an ambulance. But the problems begin when the photos become an agreed-upon symbol that represents complex social phenomena and trivializes them. For example, the woman hiding her face became the symbol of sexual assault, while the woman crouching in panic in front of a man standing with a closed fist became the symbol of familial violence. And of course, these photos make it much easier to fall into racist stereotypes.
But these stock photos can be much more bizarre and disturbing.
How disturbing? Comically disturbing.
Meet the Twitter account Dark Stock Photos, and get to know a naked Santa Clause playing with his nipples, a child drawing a mini-uzi from his bag, a man committing suicide because his wife doesn't understand how to use the computer (did we mention chauvinist stereotypes?) and many others to whom you would appropriately ask, "What the hell were they thinking?"
Murder in the office?
WTF Santa? WTF?
The world in black and white
Leading candidates for best actor
Entourage 2: Starring Justin Bieber?
Mel Gibson did it better
Someone should talk to them about security procedures