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Brief Published: 5 Apr 2019

Image Platforms Push for Inclusive Stock Photos

The Gender Spectrum Collection

Stock images are used as a visual shorthand in advertising and journalism – but they frequently perpetuate negative stereotypes and fail to accurately represent minority groups. Image libraries are challenging this lack of representation with new sets of inclusive photos.

In March, image library behemoth Getty launched #ShowUS, a photo campaign in collaboration with Dove cosmetics. More than 5,000 new pictures, taken by female photographers from Californian media group Girlgaze, depict women of different sizes, abilities and skin tones from around the globe. The snapshots aim to provide a more culturally representative – and less objectifying – depiction of womanhood.

Last year, the company also addressed its lack of disability inclusion by adding The Disability Collection, which depicts individuals with a wide range of abilities to help broaden public understanding of what disability looks like. For more on how brands are better representing people with disabilities, see our Access for All report.

In response to the lack of racial diversity in its stock images – and among its stock image creators – Abode has collaborated with TONL, an inclusive stock-imagery library. The new image collection on Adobe’s platform celebrates the everyday lives of people from various “ethnic backgrounds, sexual preferences, sizes, ages, abilities and the like”, all captured by photographers of colour.

After struggling to find realistic pictures of transgender and non-binary people in image databases, Vice Media’s Broadly, a news platform which covers traditionally unrepresented communities, launched its Gender Spectrum Collection of stock photos. This project leads the charge in a growing area of demand; the search term gender fluid increased 214% between 2017 and 2018 on Getty (Getty, 2018).

In its press release, Vice argued: “Stock photos that accompany articles do more than illustrate subject matter. They have the power to shape perceptions of entire communities.” Brands should look to these new resources – or create their own – if they wish to engage with the consumer of today. Look to Diversity Rules and The Consumer of 2030 for more on the power of representation.