Getty gets real with stock photos

Image credit: Tara Moore | Taxi | Getty Images

A new collection of stock photos launched by Getty Images offers an escape from the cliché of gender stereotyping that we’ve become accustomed to in the stock photo market place.

Stock photos are a fantastic resource for marketing materials, websites and blog posts for those times that we aren’t able to take our own pictures or arrange professional photography.

And if we have the budget available to choose between both free and paid images, we have a huge amount of images to potentially use to illustrate our point (and that’s without mentioning scraping images from Google because no one does that, right?).

But while there are literally millions of images available, quantity does not automatically mean diversity. Many stock photos have come to perpetuate stereotypes as a consequence of targeting ‘mass appeal’. Spread all around us, and increasingly all around the globe, these images offer inadequate role models and can have a limiting effect on our cultural perceptions of what is both acceptable and achievable.

“You can’t be what you can’t see. In an age where media are all around us, it is critical that images provide examples that both women and men can emulate.” Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, Founder LeanIn.Org

The Lean In Collection, launched by Getty Images this month, is the collaborative effort between women’s empowerment non-profit and Getty’s own visual trend experts. Curation of the Collection focused on more accurate portrayal of contemporary women and incorporates a library of over 2,500 images.

The Lean In Collection allows us to see a range of women being themselves; trying new things, being confident, skilful and not limited by what others think. Models for the Lean In Collection include unconventionally beautiful and real women of all ages and backgrounds.

In freeing up stereotypes of women, the images also bring a welcoming sense of reality to the world of the men and children who also feature in the collection. Children aren’t stuck doing ‘boy things’ and ‘girl things’, and men are allowed to be shown doing the myriad of activities unrestricted by tired roles of business man/ action man/ weekend dad.

The benefit to women’s empowerment goes beyond the message that these images spread, too, with a portion of the proceeds raised by licensing to fund two new grant programs. These grants are designed to further the work of both an individual documentary photographer and a team working to support the empowerment of women. Grant applications can be submitted between April 1 and May 15, 2014.

As women leaders in business, we are already carving alternative paths through society’s expectations. By choosing to use images of authentic women in our business communications we can help promote the kind of society we wish to move toward.

If you are in need of stock photography, you very well may find your next image in the Lean In Collection.

Heidi McElnea

Heidi manages written communications for the various digital and print design services offered by Orion Creative. It’s a colourful blend of website and social media content, email marketing, e-learning, copy for print and scripts for voice overs.

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