Bad stock photos never hurt anyone, but they haven't done a lot of good either.
Sure, there are the occasional horrible stock images that perpetuate negative stereotypes about the U.S. military and veteran community, but those seem to be outliers. On the whole, they're just consistently bad in the same predictable, if not laughable, ways.
And look, it's tough to find that perfect shot. We get it, it's not like the Pentagon or subscription-based services and news wires have vast archives of images showing actual service members doing their jobs, wearing the proper uniforms, and conducting themselves in a way befitting of the service they're in. That'd be too easy. (On an unrelated note, check out DVIDS, the Associated Press, or Getty Images, among others if you're looking for photos of actual troops, doing actual "troop things.")
But sometimes a business, or ad agency, or political group, or misguided news site has to turn to stock photo archives for that one-in-a-million pic — or more than likely, the first one they see out of a sea of millions. And that's how you end up with gems like this:
Let's take a moment to talk about military stock photos. As a veteran or service member, you've seen them in your news feed, on social media, or as unwelcome pop-up ads or interruptions to your regularly scheduled binge-watching. No, this won't be a holier than thou rant about how some model or company is disprect'n our troops by not getting uniforms right.
I’m sure you’ve seen these images appear on an advertisement encouraging you to use your GI Bill at a for-profit school, click on the latest military dating app, or purchase any product that’s probably sketchy as hell. They're the classic no-effort military stock photos.
As veterans, anytime we scroll through Facebook, play around on Twitter, or even change the channel on the TV, we're inundated with ads designed specifically for us. Whether it's a college that wants to get a slice of that G.I. Bill money cake, or some boot company trying to get veterans to buy another pair of uncomfortable footwear, current and former service members are prime targets.