Rule 34 dictates that if something exists, or can be imagined, there will be an internet porn version of it somewhere.
The same can be said for stock photo imagery.
With coronavirus sweeping the globe and taking over news cycles, it’s not surprising that ‘coronavirus’ is now a sought-after category in stock photo databases. Looking at Google search trends, there’s been a spike since the beginning of this year:
So how to best visualize COVID-19? The most neutral choice is a 3D image of what the virus (sort of) looks like under a microscope, as used by many media outlets:
But stock photo companies rarely stick to neutral. Here’s an overview of the different flavors of corona-themed stock photos, ranging from superhero-epic to absurdly conceptual.
Face masks everywhere
Nothing says coronavirus like a face mask. Though already common practice in many Asian countries and communities, the face mask has now become a global symbol of the pandemic, and stock photo websites have taken notice. There are face masks in the street, face masks in the supermarket, face masks on dogs —you can’t be too cautious.
Being in lockdown isn’t fun — but we still have stuff to do, right? There are kids to entertain, crafts to master, and Zoom calls to make.
But according to most stock photos of this new phenomenon, being on lockdown means sadly staring out of the window, gently pushing one hand to the glass, longing for the world outside.
Toilet paper hoarding
Toilet paper has become the pandemic product the world is currently hoarding, and having to wipe our bums with cocktail napkins will be one of those stories we tell our grandkids.
Stock photo websites are all about a good story, so they’ve definitely latched on to the toilet paper hoarding issue. Most come with very specific narratives, like: “Corona Gold, the new currency in Europe. A man sits on a big pile of toilet paper and is happy. In times of Corona virus, toilet paper is in great demand in Germany due to panic buying” (see image below).
Doctors and nurses are the true heroes of this crisis, and this is reflected in the selection of stock photos. There are doctors with capes, doctors stopping the virus with their bare hands, and doctors in post-apocalyptic sceneries with coronavirus-shaped clouds.
Sexy corona (NSFW, but you’re WFH anyway)
Back to Rule 34: There’s porn of everything, so corona-inspired erotica is having a moment right now. Stock photo websites have followed suit, with semi-realistic images of naked women doctors (no men, big surprise) fighting the virus.