Back in the Day when I was Babycakes Briauna, I had all these lofty goals about blogging. I would read some of my favourite bloggers, looking for ways to streamline my blogging process. A great deal of bloggers suggested the use of stock photos. For things like my Journey to Clear Skin Series, stock photos would have been perfect. A hand splashing water on the face or reaching to turn on the faucet. During this hunt, I quickly discovered darker skinned black and brown people weren’t included in these everyday life photos. Those diverse stock photos do not exist.
Are We Reading Lacking Diverse Stock Photos?
Simply put, there is an appalling lack of images that accurately and beautifully depict black lifestyle. When searching for my likeness on free stock photo sites, I cannot find it. It doesn’t matter if I use “African American” “Black Woman” or “African American Woman”, I find myself staring into a sea of whiteness, hoping to find a speck that sorta kinda resembles me. There’s as much wildlife in these searches as there are black people. Really.
As you can see there are very few photos of black women, even those that do exist are not on par with similar photos with white counterparts. I wanted something made with melanin. Instead, I got 50 shades of beige. I’m not the only person who has noticed this absence. When chatting with fellow black bloggers, especially those darker than a paper bag, lack of diversity has been a complaint. It is truly the simple things like holding a string of lights with lovely bokeh, petting a dog, or typing a MacBook. We don’t get those photos. At least not for free.99. Nope, that’s another fee thanks so the black tax.
Not only do we have deal reaching products that are not inclusive of our skins, marketing teams flopping when it comes to diverse storytelling in ads, and fighting for your set at the table when in terms of being compensated fairly for our work we have put in even more labour to ensure we have photos that represent us. Some black bloggers are spending time on Lynda.com and YouTube, learning basic photography and editing skills. Others choose to pay for monthly or yearly subscriptions to those who said enough is enough. But every blogger doesn’t have that kind of disposable income. No one should go broke be a successful blogger.
What I’m Doing About the Lack of Diversity
So after I got over my irritation of this outright disrespect, because I could be an entire post about wild animals popping up when I search for black people, I decided to do what just about every black woman in history had done. Create it myself. Over the last 2.5 years, I have been nagging my friends and family to let me take unusual pictures of them. God bless them they have been patient with me. ” Before you bite into that chicken let me take a picture of you holding it.” “Stop, don’t take that sip yet.” “Will you spread the butter on your bread again?” “Before you start that twist, can you hold those two strands of hair?”
But thanks to them, I will be able to offer the Petite Crew some free black lifestyle stock photos. I’m not promising they’ll be everything to everyone. I’m just doing my part to make a change in my community. But I want people with similar lived experiences to know they are seen and not have to produce so much labour. My purpose for creating Petitely Packaged was to make my mark on the diversity front because I noticed most prominent blogger with my body type weren’t black. One of my favourite fashion bloggers, Nicole of What Nicole Wrote, wrote a post addressing this issue. We need more visibility and variety in skin tones, in body types, in lived experiences. Identity politics matter, representation matter. These words have meanings, and they shouldn’t be just lip service paid to appease the masses.
I cannot end this post without shouting out Neosha of CreateHERStock and Jenifer of ColorStock. They are two trailblazers in the world of diverse stock photos, who inspired me to get creative about my niche and to hone my craft as a photographer.
Have you had trouble finding diverse stock photos for your blogs or other creative projects? Did you know there are sites catering this demographic? Are there any types of images you’d like to see with darker skin?