A Diversity Problem in Stock Photography

People come in every shape, size, color, sexual orientation, gender, and a million other “classifications.”

Major stock photography sites (ie., Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe, Getty, etc) do a great job of providing filters to narrow down exactly what type of model you want. The problem is, the majority of the photos on these sites feature thin, young white people. This means when you do a search for something else, your results are slim pickings.

Where to find minorities, LGBT, overweight stock photography


An example of stock photography’s diversity problem

To better demonstrate the difficulty a web designer might have finding diversity in stock photography, I did a simple search for “business people.”

As you can see from the results below, entering that keyword phrase into Shutterstock reveals nearly 4 million images. The photos on the first page are high-quality and would look great on any professional website.

If we apply the filters “Hispanic” and “female,” our total number drops by 99.3%.

While that still leaves us with 27,000 photos to choose from, the first page of images seems to be of a much lesser quality than the generic search results. This means more time searching page after page after page looking for the perfect photo.

A search on Shutterstock for business people

A search on Shutterstock for “Business People”

A search on Shutterstock for hispanic woman business people

A search on Shutterstock for business people with the filters “Hispanic” and “woman”


Where to find high-quality stock photos of “real people”

As a web designer, I spend a ton of time searching for the perfect stock photography. Because I’m sensitive to the diverse nature of internet users (and humans in general), I always try to include a wide variety of models on my websites.

However, using mainstream stock photography sites can be difficult – as you saw from the above example. So, where do you go to find high-quality photos of real people? Here are a few of my favorite resources:

What about free stock photography sites?

In addition to the amazing fact that these sites offer FREE stock photography, they also tend to have a slightly more diverse collection of models. Be sure to sign up for each of their newsletters, as they send high-quality photos to your inbox each week.

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