How I Deal With Racially Biased Stock Photography in My Work

If you didn’t know, I’m founder of simple sprout studio, where we build websites and create digital marketing campaigns and copy to help businesses grow online.

A few years ago, I had a client – an incredible African American woman – share the realities of being a business woman with me.

She told me she wanted her new website to feel inclusive of all ethnicities, cultures, and genders. And for the project, part of my job was to find and incorporate imagery that would fulfill this vision.

I started my search…and reality hit me like a ton of bricks.

All I found – in stock image after stock image – was white people.

In fact, even after actively searching for people of color, I was still having issues finding any diverse imagery.

As a white female, it was normal not to have noticed – and of course that’s part of the problem.

In fact, I remember apologizing profusely to my client on behalf of the fact that it shouldn’t be as hard to find her culture and skin color as represented as mine is. She simply shrugged…she was used to it.

But I made a decision that day.

I was going to start being more aware and mindful of something as small as imagery for my clients.

And I have ever since.

Whenever I provide clients with imagery for their websites or blogposts, I always give a wide array of ethnicities, heritage, and genders. I make a mindful effort to seek out stock photography that isn’t the average white male or female to portray on my clients’ sites.

This project happened a while back, but an article I read recently really sparked my writing this post, thanks to the ladies at Heart & Hustle podcast.

The short of the article is partially what I’ve described above: a white woman gets a dose of reality when she researches poses for her upcoming photoshoot. Essentially, she’s inundated and overwhelmed in the same way I was: with white supremacy, in all its stock photography glory.

So how am I making a change? By showing that beauty and the human condition is more than white skin…it comes in an array of colors and complexions. And it’s all beautiful.

It’s a small change, but an important one.

In fact, I challenge you to start being more mindful about issues such as these in your everyday life – and even your work. What you find may surprise you.

Update: If you don’t think this topic is a relevant one, guess again. Check out this incredible video by the Huffington post about the changes in female representation in stock photography.

Want more helpful posts like this?