Guest Post: Finding Inclusive, Relevant, and Joyful Stock Photography for Your Projects
Photo courtesy of the Disabled and Here collection.
Last fall, we discussed why it is important to use stock images that truly reflect the diversity in our communities.
We’re returning to this topic in greater depth with this guest post from Maria Guerriero, founder of design studio Germinate Creative. Maria is a long-term partner—we’ve collaborated with her on projects for the Ford Family Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and more.
Big stock photo sites are tricky. And icky, when it comes to inclusive photos. Clients often ask for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), LGBTQ+, and disabled people for their projects. But searching for those photos on large stock photo sites often ends up with unauthentic duds.
It’s important right now to find imagery that feels genuine, and is representing a variety of voices—not literal voices, but the tone and look of insufficiently represented people. I’ve had to look for these photos since my clients want a spectrum of individuals represented in their projects.
“I’ve got a list of five stock sites I want to share with you, some of which I’ve used, some of which I’m thrilled to just learn about.”
I’ve got a list of five stock sites I want to share with you, some of which I’ve used, some of which I’m thrilled to just learn about. Build a better stock photography for your project using some of the following sites—and please give attribution to the photographers and stock sites when you can (and should):
I came across TONL when working as lead designer on the Reclaiming Native Truth project with Metropolitan Group. Their database is beyond amazing. There is a rich diversity and a lot of content to choose from. Their pricing models are also pretty good. You will have to register to get access and purchase.
Jopwell is a POC recruiting website and has recently updated their free stock photo repository with an intern edition. I used them for my work with Mac’s List since they had a lot of great photos of people working together in an office setting.
3. Gender Spectrum Collection
This collection includes images of trans and non-binary models that, according to the site, “go beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags.” It is the first database of its kind, and, while stock photos might seem like the stuff of goofy memes, it actually represents a historic step forward for queer representation in media.
4. Create Her Stock
Founder Neosha Gardner says it perfectly on the Create Her Stock about page: “We are a grassroots resource and digital ‘pantry’ for stock imagery that can be used for lifestyle, business, and everyday content creation for bloggers, creatives, and growing influencers. If you’re looking to search through thousands upon thousands of images, this may not be for you – but if you appreciate having a resource that keeps it direct and straight to the point – we got you covered. Who has time to search through a bazillion pages of photos anyway, right?” Right!
5. Disabled And Here Collection
“The Disabled And Here collection is a true celebration of disabled BIPOC in the Pacific Northwest—although you can use these photos anywhere. ”
I just found out about this site and I’m so excited! The Disabled And Here collection is a true celebration of disabled BIPOC in the Pacific Northwest—although you can use these photos anywhere. This collection is a disability-led effort to provide free and inclusive stock photos featuring disabled BIPOC. I’m going to use every single photo here whenever I can. And! I love the interviews with the models. Real people, y’all. Talk about authenticity.