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How to Find Good BIPOC and LGTBQ+ Photos When Searching for Stock Images

As designers, we have an incredible responsibility to be mindful about the work we create.

Since our work is purely visual, it can have an enormous impact on our audience and our clients’ audience. Especially when we use stock images in our work, whether it’s for a passion project or for a client who needs some filler content, it is vital to make sure those images are inclusive. ⠀⠀⠀⠀

But ask anyone who has tried to search for stock images with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation— it feels pretty dang impossible to find photos that are a) quality, b) not overly stocky, and c) diverse without appropriation!

(Stock images sites, do better.)⠀⠀⠀

I have been around the stock image site block, so I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for tracking these down:

  1. Search the right sites!

There are some stock image sites that just…don’t have many or ANY. To avoid getting stuck in that search for hours, here are some of my favorite stock image sites dedicated to diversity and representation:

Nappy.co

TONL

Mocha Stock

POCstock

WOC in tech

  1. Get specific!

It’s completely okay to narrow it down for the site. Using the right keywords never hurt anybody! When searching for POC, for example, you can use keywords like:

Black, Asian, Native, Hispanic 

When searching for LGBTQ+, for example, you can use keywords like:

Gay, lesbian, gay couple, LGBTQ

  1. Change up your search here and there!

Try using 1-2 random keywords, and click through images you like to find others similar to them. Sometimes the really good images are hiding under other keywords, and I find them where I least expect. Doing a bit of digging and diversifying your keyword search is necessary!

  1. Take! Your! Time!

Finding solid photos that do not appropriate a culture or look overly stocky takes time and patience. It will definitely get a little easier as you go! As you get used to searching for diverse photos, take your time thinking through how it could be perceived by your audience. 

I know stock image sourcing can be tedious, but setting aside the time it takes to track down quality stock images with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation is beyond worth it in the end. Good luck, and happy searching!

The Journal