It just does. It matters in how you view yourself. It matters in how the world perceives you. It matters in how your audience views your product, service, and your company.
When I was coming up in the 70s and 80s, it was a normal occurrence in many Black households to be pleasantly surprised – okay, shocked – to see African-Americans in mainstream tv commercials or magazine ads. Imagine that it’s so rare to see yourself in media spaces that you almost can’t believe it when it happens.
Seriously…there would be whole conversations about it.
How many of you remember…
…counting the number of Black people you saw in a Coke commercial or the number of times you saw a Black family on an episode of Richard Dawson’s Family Feud? How about counting the number of Black people you saw on a Saturday morning episode of American Bandstand because after watching Soul Train, you were still in a dancing mood, so you headed over to that other network to see what musical group was on and to see if you recog…wait…no…who are these people? Never mind.
Anyway, in 2020, we still live in a world where White is the default in marketing and advertising imagery. This is clearly evident for small to mid-sized marketers attempting, on small budgets, to find images that help communicate and represent their brand. Many stock image sites either lack relevant images of Black people or the ones they offer are so cheesy or aged that it’s just painful to search through. There have been a few times I’ve decided to go without an image because the pickings were laughable.
Thank goodness Black photographers and creatives took this issue into their own hands and created spaces to house real, elegant, relevant, every day, ‘make me wanna’ buy some of your stuff’ images of us. Cause yeah, Black folk pose in the street, drink tea, dig our feet in the sand, hug our Daddies, eat ice cream, walk our dogs, smoke cigarettes (I mean really…stop that), hang out with our friends, type on our laptops, open Christmas presents, and look gazingly into the sun, too.
These sites feature images that honor the way we see ourselves, through our own gaze, instead of relying on the perspective of ‘other’.
Larger, more popular sites finally caught a clue and expanded their offerings, giving us even more options to choose from. Some of their images are still questionable, but hey…baby steps, I guess.
Take a look at the top 5 list I’ve compiled and get what you need! If you need more, download this stock image resource guide.
Oh! None of these sites have paid me to feature them, soooo…
www.nappy.co – This site offers lots of images in shades of brown from folk all over the African diaspora. It’s a beautiful thing! Everything on this site is free. Find an image and download it.
https://createherstock.com/ – Founded by creative Neosha Gardner, this site is loaded with images perfect for your product, service, blog, or website. There’s a collection of over 3000+ free images (after offering your email) called The Stockpile. If you need more extensive offerings, you can pay to play for as little as $10 per month.
You can also get unlimited access and unlimited downloads for $99 annually. That’s a pretty darn good deal!
eye for ebony
www.eyeforebony.com – This is another site offered up by a group of creatives that saw a need and decided to act. Led by LaShonda Brown, EFE provides $25 bundles of 25 lifestyle photos, including “Yoga”, “T-Shirt Mockups”, “In Love”, “Blogger”, and more. You can try a few images for free by signing up for their newsletter with your email address.
Father’s Day is coming up…check out the “Father & Son” bundle!
https://www.pexels.com/ – I’ve used this site for several years, but sometimes was less than impressed with their offerings for people of color. But lately, they’ve upped their game and it’s lovely!
About a week ago, I posted content thanking online design and publishing platform, Canva, for increasing the number of African American images available. After digging a little deeper, I’ve discovered that Canva acquired Pexels and Pixabay, which would explain the sudden onslaught of beautiful, brown images. They also offer stock videos, so please take a look!
https://www.blackillustrations.com/ – Sometimes an image just won’t do the trick. There are times you need an illustration, customized or not, to adequately portray brand, product, or service. There are a few free packages for download, but others come with a nominal fee and are well worth it.
When you begin checking out these options, you’ll undoubtedly find some of the photos across multiple sites, and that’s okay! However, each site has its own dynamic and multidimensional flavor, just like Black people. So, get yourself a cup of coffee or tea, pick up your laptop or smartphone, or tablet and get to work curating fantastic images of color for your creative projects!
There are just a few sites I’ve come across and used over the years. If you’d like the full list, download it here.