Designer Collector: Absurd Stock Photography

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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