The old saying “A picture paints a thousand words” is a thorny one for minority communities. So often, images supposed to represent us are misinterpreted, or used as a definitive depiction. When there are relatively few visuals in circulation, singular images can be used as the litmus test for how a member of said community should look, or how they shouldn’t, with images claiming representation often proffering more stereotyping than helpful and necessary nuance.
For transgender folk, images are so often tied up with politics as well as safety. Mainstream renderings decree that trans people should dress, look, pose in a certain way — often making the goal to pass as an acceptable vision of trans, rather than present an authentic and wide-ranging view of what trans really looks like. Images formulate so much public opinion that it’s essential that those which aim to represent a community actually do the job.
And that’s exactly why Adobe Stock teamed up with self-taught photographer Bex Day on a new collection which aims to bring more diverse images of people into the frame. The series looks to appeal to marketers, brands, media outlets and visual artists who want to authentically represent transgender communities. With a focus on diversity across age and race, the new collection, shot in various locations between the UK and Berlin, profiles people who embody the diversity of the Trans community.
To mark International Transgender Day of Visibility (31st March), Adobe Stock partnered with Bex to create a selection of images specifically celebrating and representing the UK’s trans community. While many say that we’re at the trans tipping point — with more voices platformed and more visibility in the media and pop culture than ever before — there remains a serious lack of imagery to go alongside. Dated stereotypes of what a trans person might look like means that representations from brands and media outlets often get it wrong, so Adobe Stock wanted to kick start a bank of images that provide a more authentic depiction of what being transgender looks like.
Beyond a visual representation, Bex’s work looks to connect emotionally with each individual — veering away from glossiness and retouching, her analogue style focussing instead on presenting an image as authentically as possible. The 10 subjects in this new series were cast by Bex herself, who captured them in settings from the green leaves of Shropshire to homes and parks in Essex.
“I’m excited to get involved in this series as it is important to shine a light on Britain's trans community,” Bex explained. “As the world is evolving at a rapid rate it’s important that Stock contributors continue to document current affairs, especially those that can make a difference.”
Whether getting ready to go out, walking about their homes or wandering through parks and reclining on roadside barriers, these images seek to express their subjects in their settings naturally and comfortably, showing a humanity which can so often be misplaced in images of minority and underrepresented communities.
“Adobe is committed to expanding the range and diversity of images available in Adobe Stock and ensuring there is a more authentic representation of the transgender community is an important part of that mission,” Ryan Levitt, Senior Communications Manager at Adobe explains. “We are working with some truly inspirational contributors to bring this to life in Adobe Stock, with our latest focus on the Fluid Self an exciting opportunity to help challenge harmful myths and stereotypes about people from different backgrounds. Bex Day’s collection is a fantastic addition to the library.”
The images are available from today and provide an opportunity for those who work with stock imagery — be it marketers, visual artists, brands or media outlets — to avoid harmful visual stereotypes.
Today, it’s become commonplace to pay lip service to inclusion, but not have the actions or the images to back it up. But as we learn more and more, inclusion doesn’t look just one way — it looks like us, in all our splendid, wonderfully individual forms. And that’s what Adobe Stock and Bex Day hope to achieve, this International Transgender Day of Visibility.
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