Finding Diversity in Stock Photography

When we’re using stock photography in marketing—whether it’s for graphic design, social media, or any other platform—we can’t restrict our options to a limited number of people. Including everyone ensures that every member of the audience feels included no matter their race, gender, sexuality, ability, or any number of unique diversities and intersectionalities. And in our specific industry, it also helps ensure our clients are following Fair Housing laws.

The Impact of Stock Photography

As a designer, I use stock photography every day, and sometimes it takes sifting through hundreds of photos to find the perfect one for a particular brand, brochure, email, or website. There’s an abundance of criteria to consider. Does the photo reflect the location of this community? What’s the mood of the photo? The colors? The composition? The scale? How does it make me feel? Who is being represented?

Who is being represented? This question is the crux in our stock photo search, and it’s often the hardest to answer. It can take hours to find the right representation, and sometimes that may not even exist. Because the imagery that dominates the media—especially in the stock photography space—is homogenized to reflect a narrow margin of humanity.

The majority of people in stock imagery are young, able-bodied, white, and appear to be heterosexual. This results in a daunting search for a photo that is an authentic representation of the people in the world—let alone one that answers all of the other criteria questions too.

But it’s imperative we do this search and choose imagery that includes underrepresented people, showcasing them in empowering, real, and honest ways. This is not about checking boxes for a diversity count. It’s about being aware that the resources for diverse stock photos are limited and don’t represent the reality of human identity.

It’s about intentionally setting out to find imagery that is high-quality, impactful, and inclusive so we can accurately portray our world.

The Importance of Resources & Awareness

Very recently, the search for diverse and inclusive stock photos has become easier thanks to the individuals, companies, and photographers who have taken the initiative to create resources that reflect the true, beautiful variations of humanity.

One resource our design team has access to is the stock photography website Scopio. Scopio’s mission is to “support creators to capture diverse images that tell powerful stories and transform perceptions.” They portray people with different body types, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, disabilities, and lifestyles. They’re an ideal resource to find the perfect stock photo that meets all of our requirements, so we can create relevant, inclusive, and aesthetic designs.

Moving Forward in Real Estate Marketing

With awareness and the right resources, we can find imagery that represents all of humanity, working towards true inclusion in an industry that needs it most: real estate. After all, when we’re selling a home and a lifestyle, we should be selling one that embraces the true self, a place free of judgment and a place to feel completely comfortable.