Saturday, May 19, 2012

The fascinating story of "Parked Domain Girl"

You've seen her a dozen times, often enough that her face jars your memory and yet you're never able to quite place the reference. She's a white blond young adult, wearing a backpack while she clutches the straps securely and grins tightly with her tilted face at the camera. Here she is, in all her famous glory:

She's "parked domain girl", and her use as the standard default photo for a parked web domain, starting in 2005, has spurred a little online fandom.

URLesque gets to the bottom of the story: The photographer is Dunstin Steller, and he snapped this photo of his little sister, Hannah, and tossed it onto his iStockPhoto portfolio. For a few cents, Demand Media scooped up the photo and was then licensed to use it throughout their web properties. Thus, every time a website goes dark, Demand Media scoops up the domain registration and parks it, with ads and links around this photo.

The file is usually saved with the name "0012_female_student.jpg". Here's another photo of her in the same setting:

And here is the same building where the photo was taken, at Unity Village, Missouri.

Steller works as a stock photographer and his sister Hannah is presumably still in the modeling business. Time may yet come when she wants to capitalize on her Internet fame; there certainly is fan art and meme images of her all over the web!