In 2007, the top-selling image for the search term "woman" on Getty Images was a woman lounging naked, draped in a towel. She's gazing into the camera.

In 2017, it was a woman hiking solo in Banff National Park. She's fully clothed, and you can't see her face. New York Times tracked the evolution of women in stock photography and deducted that images with less focus on women's appearance have become more popular.

But maybe that's because there aren't enough stock images of real women available. If you don't want to use naked lady in towel, there's not much else to choose from. But that just changed, thanks to a new collection of stock images Getty just made available for purchase.

Stock photography of women just got a lot more real.

Getty Images just added over 5,000 photos to their stock photo database that feature a diverse range of female-identifying and non-binary individuals from around the world. It's called Project Show Us. Women of many ethnicities, ages, body types, and cultures are represented.

The women aren't eating salads or struggling to drink water.

They're reading.

Stretching.

Hanging with friends. 

Relaxing.

Working.

Some are playing music, running, dancing, boxing, or kayaking. 

In other words, doing all the things that everyday women do. 

The Show Us initiative is a partnership between Dove, Getty Images, and Girlgaze, a network for female-identifying photographers and directors to find paid opportunities. Dove partnered with Gilgaze to hire 116 female-identifying photographers around the globe. They photographed 179 subjects, featuring women from many countries including Morocco, Tokyo, India, Nigeria, Spain, Russia, Brazil, and the United States.

Dove's Real Beauty campaign grows up.

Dove launched their Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 with ads featuring regular women in place of professional models. It generated tons of press exposure.

Yet over a decade later, the majority of women still don't see people like them in traditional media. Leading up to this campaign, Dove conducted a study of 9,000 women to gauge their perception of female representation in media. 70 percent of women surveyed said they don't feel accurately represented by the images they see every day.

Everyone's over bad stock photography.

Advertisers and media companies are listening. Those who purchase stock photography are on the hunt for more inclusive and diverse images. Getty reports huge increases in the following search terms over the past year:

  • "real people" 192% increase

  • "diverse women" 168% increase

  • "strong women" 187% increase

"What's so important about this particular campaign is that we've been able to highlight and photograph women and girls all over the world who don't generally get seen," said Girlgaze founder and CEO Amanda de Cadenet.

The women featured in the photos wrote their own search descriptions and tags (such as #endurance, #creativity, #energetic and #businessowner). "The media shouldn't profit from making you feel bad about yourself," said Latina artist and feminist Débora, who was photographed for Project Show Us. "The aspiration should be that you feel good about yourself."

Getty told AdWeek that they hope to double the size of the collection within a year. Browse the entire collection by searching #ShowUs on Getty Images. ​

Published on: Mar 28, 2019
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