Photographic Emoticons

LAS VEGAS -- The more time I spent wandering the great halls of the convention center, the more I grew obsessed with how conference booths were designed. From the choice of floor covering to the arrangement of products, every company was trying to say something, even if it wasn't always clear what.

The oddest manifestation of this newfound interest is the gallery you see above. It's a bunch of (mostly) stock photos that different companies used to illustrate their products. Stock photos like this tell you nothing about a product, obviously. They could be used to sell salad or cell phones. Stock photos are photographic emoticons. They tell you how a product will make you feel.

I found all these particular specimens in South Hall, but they were scattered pretty evenly throughout the thousands of booths. I'd say one in four booths made heavy use of them, though not all stock photos are quite as ridiculous as these.

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