Seen, yet unknown

She is one of the most seen faces around, from newspaper advertisements, websites, and magazine advertisements. She promotes a variety of products, from childcare services, important topics such as immigration, skincare and beauty products.

Is she a supermodel? You might think that with all the publicity that this particular person gets, to be able to grace the pages of various print media and be seen in advertisements, that this must be someone well known. It must be a household name known to millions, have millions of followers on social media, and have tweets retweeted by the thousands. Her instagram pictures must be the holy word of her followers.

Reality could not be further from the truth. The face that features so much is the anonymous face from a stock photo. A writer in Canada found out the hard way how her image had been used across various media to promote a variety of causes without her permission.

Shubnum Khan had signed up for a photo shoot ostensibly offering a professional portrait shot in exchange for use of the photo for artistic purposes. There had been a contract signed, in which the author gave away the rights to the image, essentially signing them off to the photographer, who stood to make a tidy sum from the image.

Perhaps the author could take it as a compliment – she has a radiant face that gets deep into the heart of every person that views it. Or maybe her face is perceived to be trustworthy, honest, and beautiful, and inspires one to commit to whatever cause her face has been used for. But it is no laughing matter to find that after you have consented to your photo being used for a stock image, that it is used to market causes that you may not agree with.

At least Khan can lay claim to having various sides to her portfolio. Just like the composer Muzio Clementi, who was a composer, publisher, pianist, conductor, piano manufacturer and salesman, Khan can say her image is so beautiful that it has been considered for use by various individuals. (You can read more about Clementi from the Piano Teacher Harringay blog, but unlike Clementi, who would have been pleased to have many strings to his bow, it is unlikely that Khan would feel the same!