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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Misuse of stock photos and other thoughts of art and design ethics

These True.com ads weary me. If you use hotmail for your email service these ads routinely display to the right of your browser window.

What bothers me the most is the objectification of women: "fresh ... take your pick." What is this a deli? Does this not bother feminists?

Further, the use of a stock photo image to sell "fresh" women borders on liability with stock photo image providers. Most stock photography companies include a line of legalese like this:

"... use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content..."

Do the True.com web ads depict the models "in a manner" that suggests "sexual or implied sexual activity... reflected in the Content"? What if the web ad read: "Somewhere in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes" [statistic from RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, & Incest Network) Statistics]? Would that be considered a depiction of the model "in a manner" that suggests "physical... abuse"? Would that be appropriate to combine the stock image of a woman with copy that suggests her abuse? Most people would agree that it would not. So would it be appropriate to combine the stock image of a woman with copy that suggests she is a "fresh" single female?

This goes back to something else I mentioned regarding the need for responsibly designed ads. It seems too easy to "paste" an image and copy together with little consideration for business and graphic design ethics.

If a model understands how the final image will be used they may or may not consent to posing. Say for example (since we're all on the eve of mid-term elections), you are a Democrat and you see your image used in a Republican ad sponsoring a university young Republican group (or vice versa). Part of the responsibility falls to the model and part falls to the photographer, designer and art director.

While walking through downtown I saw an art gallery with multiple nude figure paintings. I assume the artist's models consented and understood that their image would be represented and displayed in the context of galleries, museums and private collectors.

Now consider this: if these models posed for this artist understanding it was for a fine art painting collection and later found that it became an advertisement for RAINN or True.com, wouldn't that be a bit misleading on the part of the artist?

Don't mean to pontificate. Just tossing out a few observations in a world of cut-n-paste design and tap-typing a blog post while freelancing on into the night.

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