Document Type



5.8 MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS, Media and socio-cultural communication

Publication Details

Curran A. Ordinary and Extraordinary Images: Making Visible the Operations of Stock Photography in Posters Against the Repeal of the 8th Amendment. Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics. 2022;6(1), 07.


The operations of stock photographs, as utilised by the Irish anti-abortion lobby, have not been examined before. Many of the ‘Vote No’ posters in the 2018 Irish referendum campaign on the 8th amendment maintained a visual and textual focus on foetal personhood: asking the Irish electorate to ‘love both,’ while deploying a range of stock photographs. In this article, I trace specific stock images used on anti-abortion posters against Repeal back to their online image bank sources. I make visible the role of generic or stereotypical photographs in anti-abortion messaging, in the knowledge that stock photographs often function best when masking their ideologies as ‘natural’ systems of belief. As global anti-abortion campaigns increasingly co-opt the arguments and look of ‘progressive’ campaigns, using ordinary rather than extraordinary photographs, global image banks seek new markets by producing feminist and gender rights oriented stock photographs. Meanwhile, versions of the ‘classical’ images in the visual repertoire long favoured by anti-abortion campaigns continue to be remediated. Image banks also function as de facto online archives of editorial photographs of both pro-choice and pro-life activism - yet another facet of the role of stock photography in the visual economy of abortion.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.