There are hundreds of millions of pieces of content created for the internet every day Want to break through the noise? The best writing won't stop someone's thumbs from scrolling through their feed. You have to first nab them with an eye-catching pic. Then you might have a shot to keep their attention long enough to read about your new offer, hear your fundraising pitch, or learn more about whatever you're talking about.
My general go to stock image site for finding high quality, free* photos online is Unsplash. Unsplash refers to itself as "the internet's source of freely-usable images. Powered by creators everywhere." It's a website full of beautiful, interesting and dynamic photos from all over the world. Type in whatever you need in the search bar and get ready to scroll through countless wonderful photos, brilliantly capturing your subject matter.
But representation matters — especially to kids. Early impressions leave an indelible mark that shape what children imagine is possible. Think a picture is worth a thousand words? It’s probably closer to a a few million!
High-quality, representative stock photography is absolutely crucial for any business, whether you’re writing a blog post, creating a graphic or promoting an event.
I use Unsplash all the time. But sometimes I need photos more geared specifically towards diversity, intersectionality or multiculturalism. While scrolling Unsplash will typically get me where I need to be, there are other options out there that focus specifically on representing the under-represented through high-quality stock photography.
Here is a compilation of 10 free (or affordable) stock photo sites that go further than tossing a BIPOC cherry-on-top of a scoop of vanilla. You might even say these collections are pretty much the whole damn sundae.
*Quick caveat: I'm not a lawyer and I'm certainly not your lawyer. While many of these sites offer free stock photos for you to use, I'm not telling you what you can and can't do with them. If you're worried about what's okay or not, talk to a lawyer, read the fine print, or... you know... head to Google and read up.
This Flickr photo stream features hundreds of images of women of color working in tech. Everything is free under a Creative Commons license, so you won’t have to pay a cent.(That said, as is the case throughout this round-up, the above caveat applies.)
2. CreateHER Stock
This authentic stock site is a finely-curated “for-us-by-us” set of lifestyle+business content featuring Black women. A subscription runs ~$10/month, but given that the pics are behind a paywall, you’ll have access to exclusive content (unlike some big box stock photos you see on every 3rd ad in your timeline).
Pexels is a well-known free stock site, granted, but it's included here to point out their solid suggestions engine. Try searching for “Black people” in Pexels and not only do you get accurate results, but Pexels will suggest related tags, making it easy to hone in on exactly who you’re looking for.
Search “coffee” on your standard stock site. While the latte might be brown, the hands holding it rarely are. Nappy refers to itself as providing "Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free." I can't really sum it up better than that.
Picnoi is a hand-picked collection teeming with great shots of hip, young Black & Brown folks. You can also browse their co-op's collection directly in Unsplash.
6. Body Liberation Stock
Intersectionality can be particularly difficult to find represented on stock photo sites. Body Liberation Stock is an impressive stash of shots depicting body-positivity in folks from all walks of life.
7. The Gender Spectrum Collection
From Vice, these photos are intended to articulate the complexity of people not necessarily defined by their gender. You’ll find a solid variety of non-binary and trans people at work, school, and off the clock.
8. Disabled And Here
This is a wonderful reclamation for disabled BIPOC. In a unique—and incredibly vulnerable feature—this collection features interviews with each model, engendering a true intimacy rarely felt in stock photos.
Intended for editorial use, TONL feels like an enlightened version of Adobe Stock. If you’re looking for exceptionally high-quality and exclusive imagery, you can pay as you go (~$2/pic). The content curation will save you hours of scrolling those big name free sites.
10. Salam Stock
A lot of stock sites can really miss the mark when trying to depict modern Muslim life. Salam Stock remedies that with a hefty collection that includes free and paid plans.
Those are a few diversity-first stock photo sites I've found helpful over the years. Do you have any to add to the list? I'd love to hear about them. Share them in the comments or slide on over to my DMs.
I'd love to see how you put these new resources to use. Tag me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook when you post your awesome, new, diverse content.
If you work with people, you should have a photo/media library. Period.
Taking pictures of your customers/fans/community will help you tell your story in real time. It will also help ensure you have great content to use for years to come.
There’s no shortage of stock photography on the internet, but none of it has your team members in it, or your customers wearing/using/engaging with your products, or events taking place in neighborhoods where you live.
You don’t need to be an amazing photographer to build a photo library, you just need to pull out your smartphone and start taking pictures. If you have multiple team members, you should all take photos regularly to ensure as many different shots as possible of any given event, sale, party, etc.
But that’s where things gets complicated. If several members of your team are taking photos, then those photos are spread out across several different phones and devices.
There are many services out there that aim to solve this problem. Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Photos… all of them can do it. But they are all clunky and slow, and therefore unlikely to be used regularly and reliably. And if you aren’t sharing all your photos, the system isn’t working.
Here’s the good news: If every member of your team uses at least one Apple product, Shared iCloud Drives are the simplest solution you can imagine to solve this annoying problem.
Adding photos to a Shared Drive takes three clicks of the screen. Literally. And then everyone with access will have all shared photos and videos right on their phones and other Apple devices.
To add a photo(s)/video(s) to a Shared Drive, simply open up the media on your phone you want to share.
Then click in the share box in the bottom left of the screen.
At this point you can email or text the photo, or you can share it to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. But don’t do any of that. Select the rainbow icon labeled iCloud Photo Sharing.
The name of my Shared Album is Reverbal Communications. Click next to Shared Album and you can add your media to any existing Shared Drive you're a part of, or you can create a new one.
Optionally: you can add text or message to accompany your photo. I highly recommend you do this, both for your own sake, and for the sake of your team members. Say where you were, what you were doing, who is in the photo(s)/video(s) and any other information your team should know.
You can add a message or a note for an individual piece of media, or a group of pictures/videos. Whatever you choose to share will be commented on individually or as a unit.
Then just hit post and everyone in the Shared Drive will get a notification that there is new media in the Shared Drive.
When you open up the Shared Drive, you can toggle between Photos and People.
To invite new people to the Drive, go to People and then click “Invite People.”
They can only accept your invitation if they have an iCloud enabled device (a Mac computer, phone or tablet). You can invite them through their email or phone number, so long as that contact info is associated with an iCloud account.
Shared Drives are a great tool for placing all media at the fingertips of everyone on your team. You can have as many as you want too, so maybe have one accessible to interns or revolving staffers, and another for senior staffers/stakeholders. Or you have different Shared Drives for different parts of your team. Whatever works for you and your organization.
Have questions? Hit me up. I’m here to help you and you team get started building your Digital Media Library.
Check out some other iPhone tips and tricks.
Have any favorite secret iOS tips, tricks, tools or hacks that you love? Share them in the comments!
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