Diverse Stock Photos for Black Bloggers

Quality, free lifestyle stock photos are a luxury most black bloggers don't have. I'm hoping to change that #representationmatters

Back in the Day when I was Babycakes Briauna, I had all these lofty goals about blogging. I would read some of my favourite bloggers, looking for ways to streamline my blogging process. A great deal of bloggers suggested the use of stock photos. For things like my Journey to Clear Skin Series, stock photos would have been perfect. A hand splashing water on the face or reaching to turn on the faucet. During this hunt, I quickly discovered darker skinned black and brown people weren’t included in these everyday life photos. Those diverse stock photos do not exist.

Being unable to find quality, diverse photos that represent you can be frustrating as a blogger

 

Are We Reading Lacking Diverse Stock Photos?

Simply put, there is an appalling lack of images that accurately and beautifully depict black lifestyle. When searching for my likeness on free stock photo sites, I cannot find it. It doesn’t matter if I use “African American” “Black Woman” or “African American Woman”, I find myself staring into a sea of whiteness, hoping to find a speck that sorta kinda resembles me. There’s as much wildlife in these searches as there are black people. Really.

 

 

As you can see there are very few photos of black women, even those that do exist are not on par with similar photos with white counterparts. I wanted something made with melanin. Instead, I got 50 shades of beige. I’m not the only person who has noticed this absence. When chatting with fellow black bloggers, especially those darker than a paper bag, lack of diversity has been a complaint. It is truly the simple things like holding a string of lights with lovely bokeh, petting a dog, or typing a MacBook. We don’t get those photos. At least not for free.99. Nope, that’s another fee thanks so the black tax.

Not only do we have deal reaching products that are not inclusive of our skins, marketing teams flopping when it comes to diverse storytelling in ads, and fighting for your set at the table when in terms of being compensated fairly for our work we have put in even more labour to ensure we have photos that represent us. Some black bloggers are spending time on Lynda.com and YouTube, learning basic photography and editing skills. Others choose to pay for monthly or yearly subscriptions to those who said enough is enough. But every blogger doesn’t have that kind of disposable income. No one should go broke be a successful blogger.

I want bloggers with similar lived experiences to see themselves in stock photos



What I’m Doing About the Lack of Diversity

So after I got over my irritation of this outright disrespect, because I could be an entire post about wild animals popping up when I search for black people,  I decided to do what just about every black woman in history had done. Create it myself. Over the last 2.5 years, I have been nagging my friends and family to let me take unusual pictures of them. God bless them they have been patient with me. ” Before you bite into that chicken let me take a picture of you holding it.” “Stop, don’t take that sip yet.” “Will you spread the butter on your bread again?” “Before you start that twist, can you hold those two strands of hair?”

But thanks to them, I will be able to offer the Petite Crew some free black lifestyle stock photos. I’m not promising they’ll be everything to everyone. I’m just doing my part to make a change in my community. But I want people with similar lived experiences to know they are seen and not have to produce so much labour. My purpose for creating Petitely Packaged was to make my mark on the diversity front because I noticed most prominent blogger with my body type weren’t black.  One of my favourite fashion bloggers, Nicole of What Nicole Wrote, wrote a post addressing this issue. We need more visibility and variety in skin tones, in body types, in lived experiences. Identity politics matter, representation matter.  These words have meanings, and they shouldn’t be just lip service paid to appease the masses.

I want I want bloggers with similar lived experiences to see themselves in stock photos

I cannot end this post without shouting out Neosha of CreateHERStock and Jenifer of ColorStock. They are two trailblazers in the world of diverse stock photos, who inspired me to get creative about my niche and to hone my craft as a photographer.

 

Have you had trouble finding diverse stock photos for your blogs or other creative projects? Did you know there are sites catering this demographic? Are there any types of images you’d like to see with darker skin?

Besos,

Aitza

 

  • Bee K

    These are great! I’ve actually never used stock photos but I think some of my blogger friends would benefit from your post! Definitely pinning this.

    • I haven’t used stock photos in a while, but I like to have options. Thanks so much for sharing, Bee.

  • Ariel Huffaker

    This is amazing, I am glad you are bringing awareness to it. I typically do not use stock photos but I definitely feel that they need to have stock photos of all races. I am sure other people could benefit from them. Thanks for sharing!

    • Stock photos aren’t for everyone, but for when have those lazy blogger days, options are nice to have. Thanks for stopping by, Ariel.

  • My Veteran Woman Life

    So glad I came across your post! I just created a stock photo section on my blog toolbox page and really wanted to add resources/options for women of color! I will be linking to the pages you’ve mentioned here. Although I’m not a woman of color, as a military veteran I always got irritated with not being able to find images of military veteran women that weren’t up to date or reflective of today’s woman vet, and I also noticed in the blogging world, there weren’t many options for images reflecting women of color. Thanks so much for posting this!

    • Aww, thanks so much. Now that you mention it, I rarely see photos of service women or women vets. Hopefully more people will see what we see and find ways to fill in those gaps. Thanks so much for stopping by and teaching me something new today.

  • I use createherstock, but still think it is lacking a lot of the types of photos I’m looking for. I usually just take my own photos. Kudos to you for getting friends and family involved.

    • I pretty much do the same, but they’re nice for when i’m having a photographer lazy day. What types of photos are you typically looking for, JoAnna?

      • Mostly Travel related photos if they’re about groups or families

  • Emily Michelle Fata

    I LOVE this post!! I’m so happy that you’ve not only shed light on the horrible fact that society is far too white-washed, but that you’ve brought friends and family together in order to remedy it. <3

    • It has been fun to turn this negative part of blogging into a fun passion project. Thanks so much for your kindness,Emily.

  • Clare Liz

    GREAT post. I am really pleased you are taking steps to remedy this problem in society. Kudos. Keep up the great work.

  • Kourtnie Scholz

    YES! I think this is support important. I am a birth photographer that is partnering with a local nonprofit. They want images of woman of color, serving women of color. Real life, raw, amazingness. I hate there is not more images out there and I am BEYOND shocked there are wild animals that come up more then women of color. Thank you for moving us to this change.

    • Yes, here are is a lack of images in terms of real life. I volunteered with a nonprofit focus on financial wellness and stability. Barely found photos that represented our members. It sucks that people of colour aren’t seeing themselves reflected. And shoutout to you, Kourtnie for helping to make some change. I’d love to see some of your work.

  • Blossom Onunekwu

    Hmm..completely undermined the lack of black people in stock photos. Thank you for opening my eyes

    • It wasn’t anything I had put much thought into until someone told me to search.Thanks for stopping by.

  • Savannah Pham

    Thank you for shedding some light on this issue! People don’t realize these things until others mention it and I’m glad that you did. This is very true – from my personal experience, when I’m looking for stock photos there isn’t diversity. You should try searching “people.” Every person in the “people” category is white.

    • Yes! I’ve noticed the people thing too. It’s actually a default in American language. Whiteness is default for too often and we all need to help open the eyes of others and work to change that.

  • I look at stock photo sites quite a bit and have noticed the lack of diversity on them as well. Hopefully that will start to change soon!

  • Jodi Jackson

    That’s very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by,Jodi.

  • People only notice when someone first notices for them and invites them to notice too. Thanks for the enlightening view into this disparity. Now, I’ll be looking.

    • My hope is the more people that are aware, they’ll go a step further and share this new knowledge with a friend. Thanks for stopping by, Penny.

  • I have 100% noticed this when I am writing freelance articles for bloggers and it is SO frustrating. I don’t really use stock photos for my personal blog, so I don’t think I would really notice it if I were not writing freelance with bloggers, so I am sure others are in the same position as me (if they aren’t freelance writing) and just have no idea. We need to work on changing this, for sure!

    • Yes, that is totally a thing too. My freelance friends mentioned to me other day they get tired of reusing the same photos. Hopefully we see more photographers taking diverse photos and more stock companies accepting them.

  • Necessity is the mother of invention! I love this and good for you for creating diversity where there is clearly a lack of it. I’m Asian-American and it’s hard to find Asians in stock photos too!

    • I was chatting with an Asian-American friend about this the other day and how to has to get more creative with her search terms for pictures of Asians to pop up during creative projects. It is such a same that we make a a decent amount of the US population but continue to be overlooked.

  • thesophiadiaries

    this is so cool that you are bringing out your own stock photos! i’m sorry about the lack of diversity in the blogging community. sending you good wishes for this part of your creation 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the good vibes, Sophie. It’s nice to know so many are supporting my passion project.

  • I have noticed a huge lack of diversity in stock photography and a lack of racial diversity is an absolutely glaring issue.

    • It definitely is glaring like many other field in the US. Hopefully this will encourage others to look a little closer and do their part to help make change. Thanks for stopping by, Emily

  • You go girl! I’m glad you are addressing this and doing something about it. Wishing you the best!

  • Good for you! It’s sad how many people don’t think about things like this being a big deal but it does put minority bloggers at a disadvantage especially when getting started!

  • I know Haute Stock started including more diversity recently which is great 🙂

  • This is so awesome! I definitely don’t see a lot of South Asian or even like tan white people in stock photos!

  • Maia Nolan-Partnow

    It’s awesome that you’re doing this, and so ridiculous that you have to. This is the kind of thing I get so frustrated trying to explain to my white relatives and friends (I mean, at least we’re talking about race, so that’s something…): As white people, we’re all guilty of taking for granted the million little (and big) ways the bar is just lower for us. Racism isn’t just burning crosses. It’s deep in our cultural fabric.

  • Erica Hargreave

    I have to admit, I had not really thought about this, as I generally use my own photos in posts I write. But the second you mentioned it, I started nodding, as you are right. Whenever I have to look for an image of something that involves people, the majority of times, those photos seem to feature white people. Now in my case, I look up Creative Commons photos, so it is possible that the people sharing under that license are predominantly white? I don’t know, I am just asking? As otherwise I’d expect to find a great array of skin tones in the Creative Commons galleries. Certainly the variety would be greater than in Stock Photo galleries. Either which way, I absolutely love what you are doing to create greater diversity within Stock Photo galleries.

  • Finding diverse stock photos is so hard! ColorUBold has a great choice tho!

  • I try not to use stock photos that I don’t take myself, but I definitely see your point! I never noticed that before!

  • Courtney Drew

    I hadn’t noticed it before because I dont tend to use stock photos of people but it doesnt surprise me at all! Good for you for bringing light to this issue!

    Xo Courtney Drew

  • Tara Liston Fuller

    bravo to taking the issue into your own hands!!

  • Ash Neverson

    This is great that you are tackling the diversity issue among the black girls. Thanks for sharing!

  • This is amazing, eloquently put and so needed. Being black and Filipino, I find it nearly impossible to find stock photos that are a good representation of me. I’m so inspired by you bringing this issue to light and paving the way for others to create more diversity in the stock photos they share.

  • Wow you are right. I hadn’t noticed and this is something that should definitely be changed.