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Are you sourcing inclusive stock photos with intention? Your customers are hoping that you are, and we’re here to share the best platforms to find photos that represent your community.

A Shifting Stock Imagery Landscape

Stock images are a lifesaver for small businesses. Whether complementing social media posts, filling out a newsletter, or completing the pages of a website, stock images offer an affordable means of creating the visual interest that’s so essential to successful digital marketing. Just find a high-quality, on-brand image, download, and publish. Easy as that, right? Well, almost.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with most major image sourcing sites: a glaring lack of diversity. Increasingly, entrepreneurs are finding that running a business also offers the opportunity to effect change through the transparent expression of values. Without proper representation though, in avenues like inclusive stock photos, the capacity for change and the opportunity to expand your reach are limited. 

Affordable inclusive stock photos that are genuine and that represents traditionally underrepresented groups can be difficult to find. 

Luckily, stock-image curators and photographers are actively working to change this. Here are some of the best, rising image resources for diverse and inclusive stock photos and related media.

Our Favorite Platforms to Source Inclusive Stock Photos

1. Vice Gender Spectrum Collection

Featuring trans and non-binary models, the Gender Spectrum Collection from Vice aims to expand the representation of one of the most stigmatized communities. They do this by showcasing the richness of identity that lies within the broad gender spectrum.

The entire collection is published under the Creative Commons License. Every image is completely free for your business to use, though you cannot make derivative work with the photos.

Check out the collection’s usage guidelines for excellent advice on how to approach trans and non-binary representation through imagery.

2. The Disabled and Here Collection

Did you know that over 15% of all people in the world are disabled, but disabilities are only represented in 2% of media images

The Disabled and Here Collection is changing that. 

A disability-led effort to produce a stock image library featuring disabled Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), this collection features original photography and artwork centered around disabled life and communities.

Everything is available under an attributed Creative Commons license. Be sure to respect their user guidelines; artists must be listed as “[ARTIST] for Disabled and Here”, and photographs must be credited to the collection.

3. TONL: Premiere Diverse Stock Photos

Challenging the traditional, stale, corporate imagery that permeates so much stock photography, TONL combines photography and storytelling to give voice to black and brown experiences.

TONL offers a wide range of high-resolution photos featuring people of color, covering categories such as travel, technology, taste, and more. They also feature regular articles featuring contributions from POC creators narrating their own experiences.

This library does require you to purchase any photographs before using them; however, to expand access, they offer subscription plans starting at $29 a month for 15 photos.

4. Body Liberation Photos

Many photographers only work with models that are very fit or thin. Even when photos feature underrepresented groups, this focus on a particular body type doesn’t reflect the diversity of reality and can damage viewers’ self-perception and turn them away from your business.

Body Liberation Photos is the first stock-image library offering diverse, body-positive images focused on plus-sized models. With categories including self-care, hobbies, food, sensuality, and fitness, these images illustrate the joys of living life with any kind of body or disability.

Images are for sale starting at $1, or you can sign up for a monthly subscription for exclusive in-store credits. Looking for free photos? Sign up for their newsletter to receive inclusive stock photos every month! What’s more, 50% of the profit share goes directly to contributors—nearly double that of most large-scale stock image companies.

Thinking About Representation In Your Business, Beyond Inclusive Stock Photos

It’s important to remember that representation is not achieved by simply tossing into the mix one or two inclusive stock photos that feature Black models or that are highlighted by rainbow flags—that’s just tokenizing. Inclusion is a process; it means listening to your audience, considering how they perceive your messaging, and honing how your business communicates to more honestly and effectively express its inclusive values. 

Don’t assume that you understand who your audience is and how they think about themselves, but instead, pay special attention to customer feedback. You’ll likely achieve a better understanding of how clients want to be represented and spoken to. 

At Monkey VA, we are proud to boast a diverse, hard-working team based in cities around the world. Meet our team, and learn more about the diversity of thought and skill we can bring to your business!