As professionals who use stock photography, we can tell you from experience how hard it can be to find just the right image. We can also tell you that whatever difficulties we have are often multiplied tenfold when we're trying to find just the right image of just the right woman.
Thanks to history and the nature of the biz, stock photography agencies have always had difficulty supplying images of women that speak to more than just simple, almost antiquated notions of motherhood, girlishness, and sexuality. Anyone remember Women Laughing Alone With Salad? Yeah.
This wouldn't be all that big a deal, if not for the fact that stock photography agencies supply the lion's share of imagery for print, digital, and TV ads, along with the accompanying visuals for article after article and post after post. Sure, there are thousands of decent images of women to be had — but then again, there are only so many shots of Caucasian ladies in their late 20s doing yoga one can stand. If stock photography has become integral to how women see themselves — and it has — shouldn't it reflect the diversity of body types, skin tones, professions, lifestyles, and age groups women themselves represent?
Probably should, right?
A big step forward (we hope) is this week's announcement that Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In nonprofit has teamed up with Getty Images to both catalog and create a new supply of more diverse, more representational photos. In addition to curating their own collection of images that picture diversity, empowerment, and many aspects of the modern woman, they've collaborated on a grant that will pay photographers to produce such pics, thus widening the selection.
Now, this isn't a cure-all. Ad agencies and editorial departments still have to use them and we, as consumers, have to react to them. Still, it's a promising start, and a step up from Women Laughing Alone With Salad. (Infocus/Getty Images)
Video: Courtesy Getty Images.