Her Story Of Unwittingly Becoming A Stock Photo Model Reminds Us To Always Read Fine Print

"I couldn't understand why my face was in a paper all the way on that side of the world."

As an author, people know Shubnum Khan by name. But for years, people have known her for images she didn't even know were public.

When Khan was in college, she agreed to do a photo shoot for a photographer who offered her and some friends professional portraits in exchange for being subjects for his 100 Faces Shoot." Khan remembers signing a release form thinking "it was to give him permission to use the photos for his portfolio," not reading the small print at all. 

The rest is advertising history.


Khan says it wasn't until about six years ago that a friend of hers saw an advertisement promoting Canadian immigration with her face on it. 

So Khan went to the source — the photographer. Because of the agreement Khan signed, the images of her are now stock photographs the photographer sells and that they "might start popping up in places." 

And she has. Pictures of Khan from that shoot feature her with different names and ethnicities, selling everything from laser eye treatments to McDonald's.

After her talk with the photographer, Khan says she was able to get him to take down the photos of her because she could be recognized as an author but that he informed her that her face could still pop up in places where people have already purchased the photos. So looking back now, Khan sees now how these images could've been used in negative ways and is thankful for that they weren't.

People reached out to Khan on Twitter to tell her where they've seen her in advertisements, but one user told her he hopes this "great party story" of hers will help get her recognized in a positive way.

And now, Khan is looking to see where she's been featured around the world by opening up another Twitter thread where users can alert her as they see her photo. 

But at the end of the day, Khan recognizes learned a valuable lesson that she wants to pass on to others: always read the fine print and be sure you're aware of what will happen with your likeness online.

Khan is far from the only person to experience their image going viral after carving a niche in the stock photo world. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Laura — the woman in blue in the "distracted boyfriend" meme — appears to be perpetually shocked in other images found of her online.

Cover image: palidachan / Shutterstock.com


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