Finding positive, powerful stock images of women

Published:  August 7, 2014

In the US, only 31 women have ever been elected to the Senate. 20 of these are currently serving — an occurrence so unique, the Senate has just had to start expansion renovations of the ladies’ bathroom to accommodate them. There’s a record-breaking number of female Fortune 500 CEOs, and feminism has welcomed its ‘4th wave‘, with the internet facilitating network feminism — a new outlet to demand equality, and act as a public watchdog on insidious – or overtly – sexist behaviour.

Despite these facts, equality is still a daily battle, and unfortunately many industries continue to lag behind in their representation of women. Advertising is still largely guilty of this, although campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty and more recently Pantene’s Labels campaign call out hypocritical or sexist workplace stereotypes. Within the creative industry, locating imagery that portrays women in their myriad of social roles and interactions — rather than just bodies — can be a complicated task.

This is despite the fact that women make up the majority of household spending decisions, control more than 50% of the stock market and drive more economic growth than China and India combined.Article 1_Image 2

In a marketing sense, it’s smart to sell to women, but it’s even smarter to do it well. That means knowing your audience and representing them with sensitivity and accuracy. It means pushing aside the sea of imagery that reinforces antiquated female stereotypes and replacing it with imagery that conveys a more positive reflection of women — in a variety of ages, races, body types, lifestyles and occupations.

Finding the right imagery

Getty Images has partnered with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and her non-profit Leanin.Org to create the Lean In Collection. It’s a jointly curated library of exclusive Getty Images content that aims to offer a better, stronger view of women in the hopes that others will do the same in their campaigns and creative projects.

iStock are making it their goal to help you find the right imagery by first creating the right imagery. They began by sending out a creative brief to the iStock community, calling for similarly diverse, authentic shots of women, and plan on watching the imagery grow.

In the meantime, iStock have provided some tips for filtering your search so you find the perfect stock images for your projects faster.

5 tips for finding authentic female imagery on iStockArticle 1_Image 3

  1. Think about searching for images of more mature women to convey experience and wisdom. For example: Business woman (AND mature OR senior)
  2. If you spot a model you like who works well for your brand, click on the photographer’s portfolio to see if there are other images that would work for you. Bookmark the photographer so you can check back on their future shoots.
  3. Narrow broad searches such as “woman and fitness” using iStock’s filters, on the left-hand side of the search results page, to get more focused/interesting results.
    Only from iStock (found on the left-hand side of the search results page): stock images that are unique to the Getty Images family and you can get from anyone else.
    Vetta Collection (also found on the left-hand side of the search results page): well-executed, more creative imagery.
    Newest (found right above the search results): this will change daily as new images come in. It can then be narrowed further with the two filters above.

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    keywords: woman, back lit, relaxation

  4. Start by searching “woman,” using the “Best Match” search option (it will default to this) and filter by Vetta Collection. Then narrow the search further by adding specific keywords in the keyword box on the left-hand side of the search results page:
    Roles: leader, business owner, caregiver, partnership, engineer, scientist
    Photographic technique: real, authentic, vintage, lens flare, shallow depth of field
    Concepts: contentment, success, tranquility, confidence, funny, vitality
  5. Combine multiple keywords to get to more interesting results. For example:
    Woman and stylish and mature (and select Vetta Collection on the left-hand side)
    Woman and humor and individuality



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