Diversify or Die: Here’s Why Brands NEED to Start Incorporating Diverse Stock Images
A few years ago, I was working a job where I had to find stock images to go along with editorial pieces. I was also responsible for community management. This meant that I was able to hear everything that people were saying on social media: the good, the bad and the ugly. One day, I came across a comment on Facebook that went a little something like this:
“Do you guys only cater to white people? All the images that you use for your articles and on social, feature nothing but white people.”
Now, for those of you who are familiar with community management, you know that the first rule of thumb is to not take ANYTHING personal. Anything! But, how could I NOT take this one to heart?! There I was, an African American woman, with the power in my hand to make my fellow women and men of color feel welcome, and I was not using it. The nerve of me!
Soon after that comment came in and shook up my ENTIRE world, I immediately started looking for stock images that featured people of color.
And I looked…
And guess what I found? Nada! Zip! Zilch! There was absolutely nothing! Actually, excuse my hyperbole. I take that back. There were a few images here and there. However, they were not of the same caliber as those that didn’t feature people of color. They just weren’t good! And I refused to have us out in the world looking crazy. Refused. As such, I continued to use the images that were readily available; the ones that did not feature people of color.
Yea, I know. It sucked. However, this experience taught me two important things:
- People want to see themselves represented in the media. And rightly so. It’s not fair for brands to invite people into their “home” and onto their social streams, without taking steps to make those guests feel welcome and included. When people, like the Facebook commenter I mentioned earlier, visit a website and do not see anyone that looks like them, how do you expect them to feel? It’s no longer okay for brands to cater to one race, while excluding others; not when the world is becoming more and more diverse. Continuing to do so, is pretty much brand suicide.
- There is a serious lack of high resolution images that feature people of color. If you visit many of the popular stock photography websites, you could easily spend up to two hours searching for a royalty-free image that features a person of color. Trust me. I’ve tried it and I reached a level of frustration I wouldn’t wish on my enemies (well, maybe one or two of them are deserving).
This is why I started Pixels in Colour. I want to make sure that all brands, big and small, have the resources necessary to be more inclusive. I want to ensure that people of color can visit a website and see someone that looks like them, that talks like them, that loves like them, that is like them. This shouldn’t be a luxury reserved for a select few.
Photographers, content creators and stock photography websites play such an important role in helping to repair this problem. By sharing diverse images and videos, we can help add beautiful shades of black, brown, yellow and everything in between, to a world that has been color-negligent for too long. People of color are far too beautiful to be forgotten and way too #woke to be slept on. It’s time to move towards a more colorful future and start painting the world in different shades of beauty. We hope you’ll join us!
If you’re in search of high resolution stock photos that feature people of color, browse our growing collection or check out these sites:
If you know of any other sites that are contributing to the diversification of images in the media, feel free to drop a link in the comments down below.