When Innocent Stock Photos Go Horribly Wrong


Having your picture taken can seem like one of the most innocent things in the world.

But what happens when those images end up in places you never even imagined?

Becoming the poster boys and girls for disturbing causes is a far cry from where those who pose for innocuous stock images – used in newspapers, magazines and advertisements when no suitable photo is available – believe they will end.

This week, a Twitter thread has gone viral after stock models shared their stories of the hilarious and surprising campaigns they had been linked to, after a man joked that he looked like the model on a tobacco warning label.


The first to respond was Yair Kivaiko who was surprised to find his photo in an article about bestiality last year, after uploading the image to a stock photo site.

The 36-year-old product manager, told The sun“It was just a picture I took for fun with my parent’s dogs in their garden about four or five years ago and I decided to sell it through an online app to earn money. extra money.

“I was mortified when I saw it on an article about bestiality.

“It took me a long time to tell my friends and family what happened. I would never want to be known as ‘that guy’ by people who read the article.

But despite the dubious associations, Mr. Kivaiko does not regret selling the photo.

“I love the photo and like to see it in other ads from time to time,” he says.

“I could have done without the bestiality story, but it was a minor website and luckily the article is no longer available online, so there’s no real harm. I didn’t know not sure how to react at first, but today I consider it a funny turn of events and laugh about it.


Niccolò Massariello, Spanish writer for Vicerevealed how his stock photos ended up on ads for alcohol, milk, the Catholic Church and even paraphimosis – a horrific genital condition in which the foreskin of the penis is stuck behind the tip of the penis.

After an awkward breakup, Mr Massariello embarked on an impulsive photoshoot with a companion to try and clear his mind and gave up his rights to the footage unaware of the potential repercussions.

He found his pictures had been sold months later when he saw his face in an article about terrorists on a Catholic website.

“It wasn’t that bad on its own, but that’s when I realized I had no control over what could happen to my face,” he said. Vice.

In the months since, Mr Massariello’s face has been used to promote anything and everything from gluten-free drinks and Colombian spirits to articles about vindictive exes and workplace ‘jerks’.

Things then went from bad to worse, with Mr Massariello finding his increasingly popular face on the cover of a book about freaks, a shaving advert and, finally, a national campaign on a very serious issue. of penises in Venezuela.

“As I was getting up one morning, a friend from Venezuela asked me on Whatsapp if I had – or had ever had – paraphimosis, a very serious penis problem,” he explained.

“I told my friend that I may have had trouble there in the past, but I don’t remember it being called that.”

His friend then informed him that he was “the poster boy for paraphimosis in Venezuela”.

“I know I can’t really complain – I was fully aware when I took these photos and actively waived the rights to my face,” he says.

“Yet that doesn’t mean I don’t regret the day I posed for these photos. Briefly feeling a little better about myself that day doesn’t compare to the fact that I have no idea where my face will appear next.


Like many others in her situation, the stock image modeling snaps of Samantha Ovens – which were originally taken for a cold and flu medicine campaign – have been used for something she doesn’t could have ever imagined.

Ms Ovens had been out with her friends when she was first alerted to her face having been used in an article titled: ‘I fantasize about group sex with older, overweight men’, on The Guardianthe anonymous sex column.

The article, written in the first person, explained how the author, a 31-year-old woman, struggled with the fantasy of being “passed” by fat, ugly old men.

“What really turns me on is the idea of ​​having to lift their bellies and look for their penis, which is always hard to find and a little soft,” is just one of the graphic lines in the first paragraph that The image Mrs. Ovens was next.

Luckily, the hit model, who usually specializes in portraying moms, found the whole thing hilarious.

“I was with my partner’s mother [when I first saw it],” she said The Guardian later.

“I giggled and said, ‘Oh. You have to see this.’

“How can you take it seriously? There are bigger things in this life to be concerned about.


In a much more serious case, the image of a British family was used in a poster campaign by an Irish group opposed to same-sex marriage ahead of the 2015 referendum – a campaign they strongly disagreed with.

In an anonymous interview with the BBCthe family said they received a free photoshoot in exchange for the photographer being able to sell the footage.

“The photo was not stolen from us…we have no claim (or right to) the photo, and we do not claim otherwise,” the family said.

“We just wanted to say publicly that we disagree with the ‘No’ campaign and are unhappy with their use of our image, but we recognize that they are allowed to do so.”

This article originally appeared in The sun and has been reproduced with permission.


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