13 Stock Photos from the 70s That Are Trying to Tell You Something

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A stock photo is an interesting creature. Its job is to tell a story as simply and as quickly – yet as blandly — as possible. A stock photo should be equal parts image and blank canvas: non-challenging to the viewer, allowing them to fill in the blanks for themselves according to what they expect to see.

We see stock images everywhere — because if there’s anything the internet has done, it’s opened a giant, sucking hole that needs to be fed photos. The internet has responded — to itself — by producing even more stock photos.

The stock 1970s images below are from the company founded by the Godfather of stock photography, H. Armstrong Roberts. Roberts is thought to have taken one of the first stock photos ever, circa 1920, when he asked a group of people he’d just shot to sign model releases, thus ensuring the image could be re-licensed, and saving publishers the cost of hiring photographers for one-off projects. Roberts founded the agency Retrofile that same year; Retrofile would go on to be acquired by Getty Images 85 years later, though Roberts’ legacy lives on today through the agency RobertStock.

It’s tempting, from our vantage of hindsight and sophistication, to write these images off as naïve jokes. But they wouldn’t have been at the time – they’d have been working hard at their jobs telling stories.

They’re fun. And if we can take off our irony glasses for a minute, the fun can come not by mocking the subjects, but by figuring out what stories they were telling. What stories do you see? (And is that Hillary Clinton in the tinted shades?)

Source: Mashable Retronaut




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