Finding Love in a Hopeless Place: Searching for the “Romantic” in Stock Photography
edited by KELLEY KIDD

What do you think of when you think of the word “romantic?”

In the world of modern dating, swiping left and right has become a ubiquitous element of the search for “that special someone.” Building a dating profile is an artful act, comprised of conscious construction of a character you hope will get you that right swipe (or whatever mechanism your platform of choice may use). Using the staples of romantic dynamics, we try to assess what our special someone will want to see in their special someone, and we present ourselves accordingly.

In the absurdist alternate universe that is stock photography, everyone is already that shiny perfected character. So, going with that logic, we searched through two stock photography websites — Pexels and Unsplash — for what they think “romantic” means. Our two writers, David Hecht and Colleen McClintock, took a stab at building a “dating profile” for these, the most romantic of images, to help us understand a little better how we try to pitch our love.


Romantic

At my core, I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him. But I’d like to think there’s a little more to me than hopeless romanticism. I like my apartment like I like my whiskey — neat. I make a mean goat cheese frittata, and three out of four grandparents say I’m a catch! Try not to let my wholesome appearance fool you — I’ve been known to hit a nae-nae or two on the dance floor. But seriously, I’m just looking for a special lady to share a hot bowl of ramen with on a rainy day. Maybe we can even accidentally bite the same noodle, slurping it in unison until our lips touch. Until then, each swipe of the thumb, each flip in the pit of my stomach when a new match appears on my screen fills me with hope. The hope that one day I’ll find the warmth to get me through these cold and dreary nights, and that eventually, the sun will shine again.


Romantic

As Henry David Thoreau once said, “All good things are wild and free.” Although I don’t necessarily agree with my nineteen-year-old self who drunkenly tattooed this phrase across her ribs after one too many tequila shots, I still enjoy the sentiment. I am looking for the eternal playmate: someone to massage my shoulders when we’re both rolling face at The Chainsmokers’ set at Coachella, who always has weed so I never have to find my own dealer, and whose DJ career is ACTUALLY taking off (sorry, your friends’ parties don’t count). Take my hand, and I can lead you to your next big adventure.

My Leo sun makes me fiercely independent, but my Cancer moon causes my emotional reactions to constantly be in conflict with my intuition. Some people say I shine so brightly I’m almost blinding, so you better find some shades!


Romantic

So I guess you want to hear the story, right? I mean, this is the kind of tattoo that artists brag about covering up; an elaborate design to conceal a drunken mistake. Let the record show, I was completely sober and clearheaded when I got that tattoo — or about as clearheaded as one can be when one is madly in love with someone they met on Myspace. He lived in California, I was in Maine. We both loved ska music and met in the comments of a mutual favorite’s page. Within days, I was addicted to his wit and his warmth. Within weeks, he found his way into my heart, and into my Top 8. And within months, we were making plans to finally meet. His flight was scheduled to arrive in an hour, and my heartbeat was as frantic as the trumpet melody in a Reel Big Fish song. Just a moment later, I received a message — he wasn’t on the plane. The man who had danced his way into my heart managed to destroy it with a single post on my page. But my love remained. That night, I got my tattoo. Maybe it’s a long shot, but I think that one day I’ll be able to find someone to make me feel that wild again.


Romantic

I have five beautiful dresses picked out for the five weddings I am part of this summer, but I’d like to wear the same guy on my arm to all five ? As you can see, I have a dress picked out for the sixth wedding as well ??


Romantic

It’s time I find someone who is willing to appreciate every part of me. Not just the alluring round parts, but also the oblong, drizzly ones. Someone who will eat a raspberry glaze as readily as a truffle or toffee. Weight is no object.


Romantic

By day, I’m a banker — not that exciting, but I figure it’s important to be upfront about my career. By night, however, I’d like to call my hobby “parkour with pizzazz.” I skulk through the town and down the beach in my three-piece suit, using my city as my playground and the rocks, cars, and trees as my swing set. My friend managed to snap a picture of me getting some pretty sick airtime, which you can see above (we just won’t talk about the number of failed attempts we went through before we got the final shot, nor will we talk about the fact that this was taken specifically for my Tinder profile). Let me take you to a little hole in the wall with the stiffest martinis and the smoothest jazz, where we can discuss Nietzsche and the amount of core strength required to land a tic-tac to cat grab.


Romantic

I’m the kind of girl that hangs with the guys. When I’m alone, I stew and stew over a lot of chamomile tea and journal about all the other girls who better perform femininity with their tank tops and flirty words. I prefer people who neither know my mom (Patti Flynn Stefani) nor went to my high school.


Romantic

Believe it or not, I’m a world renowned barista (granted, I’m only well-known because I was recently the subject of an article on Buzzfeed for drawing vaginas into the foam on all of our customers’ lattes the week after inauguration). I’m also the proud founder of a fantastic podcast on intersectional feminism that exclusively focuses on the plight of white women. I love spending my Saturdays on photo shoots in the forest, and I hate wearing bras. Ideally looking for a couple to share my love — I don’t believe that we should be restricted to the heteronormativity with which society holds us hostage. Plus, being the guest star in a relationship allows me to have all the fun with none of the entanglements!


I’m sweet, chalky, and always have a romantic quip waiting. ⅛ of the time it’s “Maybe Tonight.”

 





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