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3 Stock Photo Collections Aiming to Widen Our View of the World

Culture

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Your stock photo go-tos are in need of a shakeup. Here, we offer a number of collections to diversify your image libraries.

Stock photos are the go-to method to highlight the world as we see it. And these pictures should reflect the world around us. But for underrepresented or marginalized individuals, the reflection hasn’t historically been so accurate.

Why does this matter? As Broadly states in their usage guidelines for their stock collection,

Stock photos that accompany articles do more than illustrate subject matter. They have the power to shape perceptions of entire communities. When used critically, they can chip away at harmful stereotypes, pushing more accurate perceptions and understandings to the fore. This is why, over the last several years, initiatives have emerged to increase diversity in stock photos across race, gender, body size, ability and more.

In recent years, efforts to diversify the libraries of stock photos have moved slowly- but this trio of initiatives has hastened the process. As you put together your next slide deck, campaign, or blog post, consider pulling your default images from one of these sites.

Broadly’s The Gender Spectrum

Photo via Broadly’s The Gender Spectrum

If you’re searching through libraries of stock images in search of “man” doing something, or “woman” with anything, you’d be hard pressed to find yourself at a loss. But for trans* and nonbinary individuals, it’s far easier to feel overlooked or even invisible. Broadly’s The Gender Spectrum believes that should change.

Curated by Vice’s Broadly, the collection “aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives.” The collection is vibrant, diverse and, as they say in their guidelines, “go beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags.”

The Jopwell Collection

Photo via The Jopwell Collection

Founded in 2015 by Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams, Jopwell is a platform dedicated to improving the employment prospects of historically underrepresented candidates. Fast Company cited them as one of the most innovative enterprise companies of 2017, and Entrepreneur included them on their list of the top 100 brilliant ideas of 2017.

In their commitment to changing the face of the workplace, Jopwell decided to create stock photo collections that offered a guide at what these diverse workplaces could look like. After debuting their initial collection, they later expanded their offerings with their “intern edition” and their “events edition,” in all cases providing a regrettably uncommon look inside a diverse workplace- by turning the camera toward their own employees, interns, and supporters.

Getty’s Project #ShowUs

Photo via Getty’s Project #ShowUs

Getty has long been a go-to source for gorgeous and easily usable images. And yet, there are images that even they are willing to concede have been overlooked in their years of collecting and curating photos. Their latest project, a collaboration with Dove and Girlgaze, is filling that gap- to the tune of over 5000 photos “devoted to shattering beauty stereotypes by showing female-identifying and non-binary individuals as they are, not as others believe they should be.”

In addition to being hugely representative of the many ways women and nonbinary individuals show up in the world, the project prides itself on its composition behind the camera as well. The photos were taken by 116 women from 39 countries, feature no airbrushing or digital distortion and, according to Dove, depict “self-defined beauty, with every woman deciding how she wants to be seen.”

To return to Broadly’s statement on the changing landscape of stock photography, images like these have wider use than many brands or companies might initially expect. They say it about trans* and nonbinary individuals, but it really is true of any population who doesn’t show up in stock photography often: “[these images] can be used to illustrate any topic, not just stories related directly to those communities. Consider accessing these photos for stories on topics like beauty, work, education, relationships, or wellness.” Doing so can change the way readers, viewers, clients, and followers look at the world.

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