We’ve all seen them. Over the top, smiling stock images are everywhere. On the subway, at the doctor’s office or in the local newspaper. It’s hard to avoid them. Some stock models have appeared so often they even have Facebook pages dedicated to them.
But this week brought excellent news for the future of stock photography. Getty Images has partnered with Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit LeanIn.org to launch a new collection of images that accurately reflects modern day women and families. As someone who looks through hundreds of stock images every week, I couldn’t be more thrilled with this collection. Finally, women portrayed in a more accurate and holistic light. There are women lifting weights, women with tattoos, dads taking care of the kids and, most importantly, people of all races, ages, shapes and sizes. In a world where the demand for perfection is so constantly advertised and almost everything is heavily photoshopped, it’s refreshing to see.
The New York Times wrote an excellent story about the collection. As the piece points out, the three most popular search terms on Getty are “women,” “business” and “family.” So it’s about time our imagery accurately reflects these searches. As an art director, I’m constantly frustrated when I see the typical photo of a woman “trying to balance it all” with a baby, laptop, groceries and briefcase in hand. We simply can’t do it all, and shouldn’t have to. Hopefully, these new images will help to reinforce a changing perception of women’s roles in society.
The news immediately made me think of the 3% Conference. Led by Kat Gordon (former creative director and entrepreneur), the conference addresses the major issue that while 80 percent of all purchases are made by women, only three percent of creative directors across the country are female. The conference hopes to inspire up-and-coming female creatives, and teach marketers how to more effectively reach their target audience.
So much of the power of advertising hinges on image. It’s a huge step forward that Getty has made these diverse images more accessible to marketers. If more stock image sites and photographers follow suit, marketers will be able to better identify with female consumers, their work will help shift perceptions, and hopefully inspire more women to reach for creative director roles.