Fake People Suck: Citizen Stock Invites Real People Back Into Stock Photos

“Fake People Suck” — now that’s a tagline. In 2009 David Katzenstein and Sherrie Nickol began a fine arts project that involved asking people off the street to come to their studio and photographing them against a white background. The idea was to capture the striking diversity that’s commonplace in New York. But after photographing about 50 people — and due also to a steady drop in commissions from commercial and corporate projects — they realized the potential the project had as a commercial venture. Thus was born Citizen Stock.

Since then the project has increased in size dramatically, based entirely on the aforementioned tagline and the accurate assumption that the majority of successful stock photography involves people. The advantage Citizen Stock has over other studios is that their subjects aren’t models. Some are kids, some are grandparents, and some are even actors from around the city, but none of them are paid unless their image is selected for use.

Each week Citizen Stock sets aside one day to shoot any and everybody who would like to sign up. Clothing rules boil down to: Bring three outfits, favor bright colors, no logos and — several times in bold on their website — bring at least one solid bright color T-shirt. After that the photographers will ask questions, running the “models” though a range of emotions and capturing each individual’s unique (and decidedly NOT fake) personality.

If you happen to be in New York and want to get involved, check out their website and remember, you must bring at least one solid bright color T-shirt!

Citizen Stock (via Wall Street Journal)

  • Delmarx

    So funny! We share your hatred of the fake people and situations in Stock. So much that we talked our client into letting us create this video. While the guy is a little agro, he really is just speaking the truth of matter. Please check it out. Great client, btw.

  • Tyler

    There’s lots of stock buyers that often complain that the models are too ‘stocky’.  Real people stock has been a bit of a trend lately, I’m betting this agency could do quite well.

  • onekind

    These models are going to be popping up all over America and the world, wearing clothes and hairstyles that primarily make sense in New York. So it’s not just a problem of ‘fake’, it’s also a problem of ‘local’.

  • Sebastian Oliva

    The next to last link is broken

  • Michael Zhang

    thanks for pointing that out :)