There’s a Twitter hashtag that never fails to make me laugh: #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob. It’s where people share photos taken by some of the less imaginative photographers of the world – folks who were apparently given an assignment to take pictures of something that they knew little about, using models who know even less. To qualify for a comically bad stock photo, the photographer must employ the most obvious, ham-fisted symbols of the trade they are attempting to illustrate, so that the photo looks like a ridiculous – and completely inaccurate – caricature of a profession.
For example, a #BadStockPhotoOfMyJob for a veterinarian (one of my favorite categories) must have the model wearing a stethoscope – otherwise, how would you possibly know she’s a vet? But to fully represent the genre – a really top-quality #BadStockPhotoOfMyJob – the model will be using the profession-identifying prop in a 100% inaccurate way. The beautiful, perfectly coiffed woman with the spotless white lab coat will be placing her stethoscope on the back of the dog’s neck, or some such nonsense. (Think I’m joking? Go search for #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob and “veterinarian”!)
I was reminded of this when I went looking for nice stock photos of people walking with their dogs to illustrate Pat Miller’s article, 4 Dog Walk Approaches to Add Enjoyment. I was specifically looking for shots of people walking with their dogs in the various ways that Pat described – with dogs being encouraged to sniff things in an unhurried manner, or jump on or over obstacles (a “parkour walk”), and so on. But what I found in the stock houses were thousands of shots of people seemingly trying out for #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob as “person walking a dog.” In 99% of my search results, the model was spotless and had great hair, but was doing all sorts of things we don’t want people to do when they walk their dogs!
If there is more than one person in the photo, the people will always be smiling fatuously at each other or at the sky, but never the dog. In about 80% of the photos of a dog in nature, the dog is pulling and/or on a retractable leash (and still the people will be paying zero attention to the dog). If the person is alone, they are likely on a cell phone. I swear that all the remaining photos feature tiny kids holding the leash of a giant dog that they could not possibly control if the dog pulled. I can assure you that I wasn’t laughing as I perused these stock photo sites!
Here’s a “training tip” from a photo editor: To take a really enjoyable walk with your dog, try to look like the picture you’d want to see: Use a nice loose “regular” leash, keep your eyes on your dog (no cell phone use!), and relax! No makeup or clean clothes are required.