Huh - same stock photo being used in two completely different adverts

I was over on imdb and saw an advert for Westin, with this picture of a boy running to his parents.

Made me do a double-take, because the same picture is on the cover of a book Mrs Piper is reading: The Way of Boys.

Two slight differences: the book cover crops out the parents, and one of the two has flipped it for a mirror image ( book cover has his right hand showing, left hand hidden; Westin advert has his left hand showing, right hand hidden).

I know that professional photographers take a lot of shots on spec to be picked up by advertising companies; just a bit of a surprise to me to see the same photo in two different contexts.

Anyone have similar examples?

Don’t know why you find this surprising. It happens all the time - photographer sells his shots through a stock library such as Getty Images, stock library will sell that photo as many times as possible.

If the purchaser of said image wants exclusive rights, they can negotiate a higher fee with the stock library (for instance, you can pay to have the image exclusively within a set period of time, or for a period of time within a certain business sector, or if you have mega bucks, you can buy the image outright - but that really would be a lot).

However, stock shots are expensive and paying for additional exclusivity rights are just beyond most marketing departments budgets.

I should add that all photographers retain copyright over their images - for instance, if you commission a photographer to shoot a specific image for your campaign, you literally commission for the right to use that image for a set period of time (typically one-two years), a location (country/continent) and in specific stated circumstances (e.g. ‘press, online and direct marketing’). Use this image outside of that time period, location or the stated uses, and you’ll be charged extra. After the exclusivity period, the photographer is then at liberty to sell that photo on to the highest bidder. If you want to buy the shot outright, it will cost tens of thousands above what you originally paid for the shot.

I knew that photographers build up a stock library - I guess I was just surprised to see it on two different things that I was interested in. With all the professional photographers out there, and all the clients, I would have thought the odds of that would be rather low.

They are low. But, as you have experienced, they are not zero.

Cool, flick quickly between the two pictures and you can see the boy run :).

The back page of Consumer Reports regularly shows examples of this. Sometimes they even get a photo of the same person for opposing products, e.g., for something like a sleep aid in one and a energy booster in the other. Same smiling satisified grinning idjit complete with testimonial.

Just keep in mind, the pics of people in ads are no different than the pics of people that come in picture frames.

You may be interested in royalty freelicenses:

You may also be interested in microstock.

There are a lot of professional photographers in the microstock business now. It’s killing traditional stock houses. While there will always be a market for custom shoots and whatnot, microstock will dominate within a few years.

For examples of what’s available, try: or

For a photo!? I’m in the wrong profession…

The photos will usually be from a stock photo service rather than an individual photographer. I’m not up on the stock photo field, but I’m guessing there are less than a dozen major stock houses.

If an ad’s budget is small the designer will try to find a photo from a retail art collection (“250,000 Image Art Explosion!”). In those types of collections the number of good hi-rez photos with people in them is usually small. It’s hard to get professional models and photographers to surrender all usage rights.

So if a designer is looking for a “free” professional grade picture of an attractive family, there might only be one such picture among a quarter million images.

I read a webpage a couple of years ago (perhaps linked from here) wherein a guy had gathered together a load of banner ads with the same stock photo of a woman on it. He eventually tracked down the model.

I’ve seen the same photo of an attractive asian woman with a frank, knowing look used in print ads for abortion counseling and STD testing. I often wonder if she regretted that session, in retrospect.


I started a similar thread on another message board a few years ago. The site and the post are generally safe for work. Not sure if we frown on links to other boards here, but here’s a gimped link:

http:// consolecity .com/forum/showthread.php?t=57879

A lot of the images that it linked to are dead, but you can see the stock photo in-use here:

I was reading through a legal journal recently and on one page, left side, the bottom half of the page was an ad for a legal recruitment service with text and logo superimposed over a color photo of a guy holding and looking down at an open textbook. Turned the page, and in the exact same spot was an ad for a law firm, unrelated to the recruitment service, with the same photo (b/w this time), cropped slightly more closely than the first photo.

Jeez- the editors couldn’t at least put a few pages between these ads, or put one of them in a different position on the page? It almost looked like they positioned the two ads like that on purpose.

Why can I remember stuff like this, but not things like “Where did I put my keys?”–The search for Alicia

Thank you very much! :slight_smile:
I misremembered it as exactly the same photo.

I thought the reference might have been to this girl. See also:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has tracked this across book covers as well. Latest post - collarbones ahoy!

“Start Your Journey Now, My Lord” – indeed.