How to Find Diverse, Inclusive, and Free Stock Photography

If you work in graphic design or marketing, you probably know that finding stock photos that are both diverse and relevant is near impossible. Having worked in an accessibility field, I have had such a time trying to find a stock photo of a person with a disability that’s not inspiration porn or in a hospital setting, or of a workplace that doesn’t display a majority of white and/or cisgendered men (is anyone else tired of photos of white guys high-fiving in an office?), or of someone that’s not the “acceptable size” or “normal” (read: athletic-shaped) body type — and good luck trying to find any images of someone nonbinary.

The good news is that some groups are doing their part to fix the seemingly inherent stereotypes so often found in common stock photography. In case you or your company is trying (and please do try) to make your marketing represent a bunch of different kinds of humans in all settings, here are the free resources for high-quality, diverse, and inclusive stock photography I’ve gathered.

https://www.nappy.co/

Nappy.co completely lives up to their own description of: “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free.” The lighting in the photos are beyond what one would expect from mere stock photography, elevating the images beyond just marketing fodder to something gorgeous and brilliant.

https://disabilityin.org/.../disability-stock-photography/

Though the selection is small, the minds who put together the yearly event, Disability:IN, the “leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide,” have brought together a series of photos that are nearly non-existent elsewhere: of people with varying disabilities actively taking part in a workplace environment. The images are warm with an almost sepia color pallet, while being both inviting and professional.

https://www.pexels.com/search/disability/

If you’re needing images that portray people with disabilities simply being themselves — running, biking, grabbing a beer with friends, traveling — then this is a great site. The look is modern and fun, with a lot of variance in tone and attitude of the art.

https://unsplash.com/@wocintechchat

When I found that I could use one of my favorite resources for free stock photos, Unsplash, search the term, “web developer,” and find photos of women of color in a professional setting actively running meetings and coding, I may have squealed. Having seen only stock images of usually white young men in meetings, this discovery was unexpected and joyous to be able to show off a more realistic group of people. The photos are bright and clean, perfect for a minimalist blog or newsletter.

https://genderphotos.vice.com/

Having seen my fill of photos of professional-looking people in business clothes, it was refreshing to see the pops of color in these stock photos of people of every gender. The photos range from playful and loving (my favorite might be a short series where it seems like a couple fighting are slowing making up) to thoughtful and dark.

https://affecttheverb.com/collection/

“This collection is a disability-led effort to provide free and inclusive stock photos shot from our own perspective, featuring disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) across the Pacific Northwest.” The look is informal, casual, and laid back, and hosts an impressive variety of people.

And if you need a reason why your marketing absolutely should include people of all ethnicities, genders, body types, and abilities…

Experience & Interaction Strategist, Creator of Brand Personalities, AcroYoga Teacher, Doodler of Comics

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