Designer Collectors: Absurd Stock Photography

Designers are known collectors. The process of carefully cataloging objects can bring inspiration when least expected. In this instalment of Designer Collectors, Amy Janzen RGD shares her collection of stock photography.

Sometimes you want your photo to have a non-editorial license, so you just kinda--blur out all of the logos. And everything else. And paint over the cart.

What do you collect?
I collect the silliest, most absurd stock photos I can find. It’s not a unique collection; @darkstockphotos on Twitter has cherry-picked the most ominous of images and there are many others.
Since when?
I’ve been noticing them and sharing them around the office since I started working in design, but, in 2020, I started slacking them to myself regularly. My co-workers encouraged me to put together a Best of 2020 to share with the whole company and now it seems like it’s a serious collection.
How does it inspire you as a designer?
I admire the work, the hustle and the thought process that surely went into these. Every single image was made because a creative out there is desperately trying to make a buck by connecting with a need they only suspect exists. Someone, out there, really needs a photo of a cat lifting watermelons and they are going to make it happen. 
Some models have a vast body of work. Skeleton businessman brings a certain element of delight into every overactive facial expression. He’s a doctor, a business professional who works in the trades and the gig economy. His likeness is found on Getty, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. Another photographer, not included here, composited a single self-portrait over dozens of landscapes. It’s laughably bad until you read his Shutterstock bio and find out that he’s an aspiring photographer working his way out of homelessness. I can’t make fun of that, I admire the diligence and hope that he carries.
Your favourites? 
My current favourite is the cat snake. It’s inspired a very visceral reaction in everyone I’ve ever shared it with. There’s a strong narrative in the photo, but no matter how long I stare at it, I lack a crucial piece of context. I can’t parse it at all. I also can’t look away.
An item you aspire to have in your collection?
I don’t really have any dreams for this collection. I seek these out for the weirdness, the lulz, the sense of silliness. I live in hope that every time I do a deep dive for a specific look, that I will find something completely ludicrous. The next snake cat is just around the corner.

Can we compromise? We are more alike than we are different.


This is a perfectly normal workday snack. I too, keep a bread basket on my desk.


It’s a cute vacation photo of two men who have never been in the same room standing on a street they’ve never walked down.


I love the soft, whimsical style of this render...ohhh. Are her legs supposed to be like that?


I don’t like that the dog has one hand with a thumb and one without. Everything else seems fine to me.


Ok, but listen, the gig economy is tough on everyone. Even cats. Especially cats.


Amy is a graphic designer and technical illustrator. She loves the chaos and variety of working in-house. Amy is currently the Graphic & Multimedia Designer at Mercatus Technologies, an end-to-end grocery eCommerce platform. She became an RGD in Fall 2020. Her portfolio of design, illustration and motion graphics is available at









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