UPDATE 3:45pm: The website has removed its stock photos of people.
Three kids from a Ukrainian stock photo show off a grammatically incorrect promise
Stock photos aren’t a cardinal sin. In most cases their use is obvious, and it makes sense to spend a couple of bucks on a stock image rather than hundreds of dollars setting up a professional photo shoot.
But in most cases stock photos are unnecessary. We don’t need the smiling faces of strangers to inform us of things. And worse, they may give the false impression that these are real people who support a political cause.
Marcel Côté launched his mayoral campaign this morning, and his website was filled with stock photos. There was this one from a photographer in Ukraine. This one from a photographer in Malaysia. This one from a photographer in Colombia. This one from a photographer in Hungary. This one from a photographer in Italy. And this one from a photographer in Germany.
And this image, with the filename “groupe-montrealais.jpg” and the caption “We Are All Montrealers”. It was edited from this stock photo from Ukraine to add a sixth panel because Marcel’s name has one more letter than the stock photo was designed for. (You can see the panel on the end is actually the third one being copied and badly edited.)
I haven’t contacted these photographers to determine where the photos were taken and the nationality of the models, but I’m willing to bet that none of these people are Montrealers.
Sure enough, all the photos are now gone from the site. Apparently “once we realized where the photos came from, we took them down,” the press attaché told CBC Montreal researcher Sarah Leavitt. Which is an odd thing to say because it means they put up a bunch of pictures not knowing their source.
The site’s designer, Vasco Design (is this really a website design they want to be associated with?) has a habit of using cheesy stock photos on websites it creates.
You might recall that Louise Harel, who abandoned her own run for mayor to support Côté, had similarly used stock photos on her website during the 2009 campaign.
I find it funny how the lady in the Sun News Network promo complaining about how “political correctness has run amok”:
is the same lady promoting government assistance to old people in Quebec:
(Click on the photos to get links to where they come from)
This is, of course, a stock photo. I tracked it down to German photographer Martina Ebel, who sells it through various stock photo sites. She confirmed the photo was hers, though she didn’t give me information about the model, who appears in dozens of other photos taken by Ebel.
I’d be willing to put money on the assumption that this nice-looking old lady is not Canadian, has never requested financial assistance from the Quebec government, and has never watched the Sun News Network.
But that’s not important, right? What’s important is the illusion that this photo represents an actual person we can relate to, and who are news media or the government to dispell us of the false impressions they planted in our minds?
Besides, it’s so heartwarming that right-wing media blowhards and left-wing government money wasters have at least one thing in common: the same taste in generic old women.
Friends of Louise Harel
Good for you with the website rallying anglos to the defence of Louise Harel. Providing a new voice in the election campaign is always welcome. And you’re getting the francophone media to use anglo headlines, which is always a plus.
Here’s the thing: Maybe people would believe you more about the surge of Montrealers from ethnic communities who have come out in support of her if the pictures on your website weren’t stock photos from a U.K.-based stock photo service.
These aren’t Montrealers, nor are they friends of Louise Harel, so why are there pictures of them on your website? Does Harel not have enough real friends that you’ve had to import pictures of fake ones?
UPDATE (Oct. 5): And I see you’re also plagiarizing blog posts. (Original, FOLH version)
The Internet is making it a lot easier to spot stock photography being used for marketing purposes. Most of the time it’s not a big issue, unless you’re pretending that it’s something it’s not. Pretending that a beach in England is actually one in Alberta is a good example.
“There’s no attempt to make people think that this is Alberta,” says Tom Olsen, the premier’s director of media relations. “There’s no attempt to mislead. That picture just fit the mood and tone of what we were trying to do.”
I mean, it’s part of a tourism marketing campaign for Alberta. And it has the word “Alberta” on it. But it would be silly to suggest that this was a picture of Alberta.
Just like it would be silly to suggest that a picture on the homepage of a Montreal radio station was of a Montrealer.
It was billed as a big announcement. Huge. Multiple full-page ads in the paper, lots of announcements on the radio. Everything was going to change at Montreal’s Q92 at 8:45am this morning.
And nothing did. Which makes me kind of cranky because I’m not used to waking up before noon and I’m low on sleep for nothing.
But with parent company Corus Entertainment seeing a 30% drop in profits from its radio division (pdf), it’s clear some management types decided major changes were in order.
Here’s what is changing:
- The name and logo. They’ve added the indefinite article “the” before the Q. This gives them a new, edgy and unique name (if you don’t count that station in Victoria)
- The website. From Q92fm.com to 925theq.com, which seems more complicated to me, but I’m not an online marketing expert.
- The on-air talent. Despite some rumours, the morning team remains the same, but some of the afternoon and weekend people are leaving. Details below.
- The programming (maybe).They’re promising “more music” as if it’s somehow possible to cram more songs into an hour and still have advertising, traffic and weather. They also say they’ll have more variety, but having listened for a few hours I haven’t heard a single song that screams variety to me.
- The jingles. Still in the same style, but with a new annoying catchphrase.
Why does this ad for a “special projects coordinator” for The Suburban’s advertising department have a picture of a woman leaning on something in it?
- The woman runs the advertising department at The Suburban
- The woman is what a typical advertising salesperson looks like
- The woman is a stock image designed to attract the attention of readers
- This ad is directed specifically at the woman in the photo, whom they can’t identify or locate by other means
- Who cares? She’s hot. Can I get her number if I sell ads for the Suburban?
- Holy shit! That’s me!
If you know what Getty Images is, chances are you’ve seen some of their stock photos used on blog posts to add some visual flair. Some times they’re used under a license, other times not so much.
In an attempt to capitalize on bloggers who steal photos without permission, an outfit called PicApp has reached a deal with Getty in which they’ll provide photos free of charge, along with ads to offset licensing costs.
Perhaps I’m just being cynical, but I don’t see bloggers going through setting this up and dealing with these ads just so they can comply with copyright law, something they tend not to care too much about anyway.