The world of stock image photography is much like the porn world. If it exists there will be a stock photo of it.
Many months ago, C.A. sent me a link to a ridiculous stock photo he found while searching for "sexual harassment." The photo was of a wild-eyed man in boxers littered with hearts voraciously capturing the image of his dick on a phone. The picture was titled "Humorous photo of a man in his underwear, using his cellphone to send a picture of his penis," and it was incredible, as most sexual harassment stock photos are. There were more from the same set, of this stock photo model in the same heart boxers being a general bum on his couch, doing drugs—all sorts of sinning.
We then realized that this stock model has quite an illustrious career, having appeared in (at least) 1,795 images available on Shutterstock. He's been a doctor, a chef, a physical therapist, a dude giving a rock on gesture, a plumber, a concerned co-worker, a "frustrated dad on Christmas Eve holding tools to assemble gifts," everything. We didn't know his name, so we named him the best goddamn American everyman name we could muster: Carl. Soon we started seeing Carl everywhere on the internet. Carl is everywhere. He is all knowing. He is all of us. We are all Carl.
Over the course of the past six months, we have been collecting our favorite Carl photos, attempting to understand what exactly happened with each photo, attempting to assemble the 1,795-piece puzzle that is Carl. And now, the life and times of Carl, the world's greatest stock photo model:
Colin: "Carl, I need to feel this dick pic is the greatest thing that's ever happened to you. I need to believe."
Isha: "Show me with your eyes, Carl. With your eyes."
Isha: "Much better, Carl."
Isha: That sandwich looks like it only has mayonnaise on it.
Colin: Jesus, you know times are rough for Carl when all he can afford is a mayonnaise sandwich.
Isha: You gotta hand it to him, though. He hasn't fully given up yet. So long as those business socks stay on his feet, goddammit, he's still got a horse in the race that is life.
Colin: Just chillin' at Chez Carl. Like one does.
Isha: Poor Carl is decidedly too turnt.
Colin: Hey, making mayo sandwiches and taking dick pics is exhausting work.
Isha: This is when things take a real turn for the dark. I don't think Carl is checking his teeth for mayonnaise…
Colin: Considering the pile of Bolivian Marching Powder on his coffee table, I think that's a pretty safe bet.
Isha: Also, there's definitely a needle and spoon in the corner there. It's like an Applebee's sampler with none of the food and all of the self-loathing.
Colin: When Carl takes the drugs, he doesn't go half-measure. You can't spell "shametime" without "gametime" (yes you can).
Isha: Ah yes, the "Man in Women's Clothing and a Telemarketer Headset" stock photo that is in such high demand. Bonus: Carl is wearing that signature smile that telemarketers are known to have.
Colin: I'm sitting here trying to conceive of what either of us could possibly write that would necessitate this photo, because unless someone sent Tips a story about a crossdressing MMORPG enthusiast with a sunny disposition, I'm not seeing it.
Colin: GAH! Who gave Carl sugar again?! Dammit, you know what he gets like!
Isha: So this is either Carl playing tickle monster with his 2.5 children OR presenting the international hand gesture for "Lemme see dem bewbs." Either way, I'm not into it. BUT WAIT. What if this was the first picture of the bunch? What if THIS was the downfall of Carl, who was promptly fired from his C-Suite title for sexual harassment? WHAT IF DICK PIC CARL WAS SIMPLY A FOLLOWUP TO 'LMSDB' CARL?!
Colin: You're blowing my mind here, Isha. I'm the guy from Scanners right now.
Isha: Craigslist missed connections circa 1997.
Colin: I don't understand, what's that thing he's holding?
Isha: ...you mean the newspaper?
Colin: Since when is news available in "paper" form?
Colin: I can't blame Carl for that expression — I'd be freaked out if Glenn Beck was about to stick his hand up my pooper, too.
Isha: While I'm glad that Carl is finally taking care of himself and his health, I can't help but lament the state of health care OR SHOULD I SAY OBUMMERCARE in this country on Dr. Glenn Beck's behalf. The terrorists have truly won.
Isha: Still checking out Missed Connections.
Colin: "Me: A tablet-pooping enthusiast. You: A pretty lady I saw on the bus one time who is totally into tablet-pooping enthusiasts. PS. Must love mayonnaise sandwiches, dick pics, and cocaine. SO much cocaine."
Colin: Carl: Man of ALL Trades.
Isha: Carl: The Only Guy That Would Wear Suede Shoes to a Crossing Guard Job.
Isha: Lovely! Carl has really turned himself around. He has either picked up work as a marriage officiant or landed a bit part for Lifetime's upcoming Keeping Up with Growing Pains: The Unauthorized Kirk Cameron/Bruce Jenner Love Story.
Colin: Not even kidding when I say that this picture/the idea of that Lifetime special is the most heartwarming thing in this whole post.
Colin: Carl, why?! You had such a good gig going as a same-sex marriage officiant!
Isha: AUGH NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
Colin: "Are you not entertained, bloggers looking for a stock photo? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!"
Isha: *Sobs uncontrollably*
Images via Shutterstock.