The (Continued) Quest For Diversity In Stock Media

Jul 30, 2018 · 3 min read
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Credit: mentatdgt

There is a part 1 to this story. Months ago we made a pledge to improve representation and diversity within our free photography library, Pexels. It became apparent that as users searched for popular topics like “business,” and “work”, among many others, the results were largely one-sided: there was no shortage of photos featuring white men, however images offering a better representation of our modern day diversity and modern day women was lacking.

So we set off on a mission. We started contacting companies, brands, and individual photographers and asked them to help. Simultaneously, our partner Automattic, the parent company of, had another diversity fighter on their side, Anne McCarthy. Together we joined forces and managed to win over companies and groups like LinkedIn, Anheuser-Busch, WOCinTech, and Jopwell to name a few. We also saw photographers from our own global community rise to the occasion and share more images that offered subjects from a variety of experiences.

Credit: ELEVATE by Anheuser-Busch
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Credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Why does diversifying our photos matter? A photo is one of the most important communication tools. The images downloaded from Pexels end up on websites, in news articles, and across social media. “Having images that represent more diverse realities helps us expand how people can represent themselves and tell their stories online,” explains McCarthy.

Our data supports that there’s a growing demand for these types of images, too. When comparing Pexels searches from 2016 to 2017, keywords like “LGBTQ” increased by 313%, “diversity” by 180%, and “feminism” by 241%. Since uploading images, Christina Morillo, cofounder of WOCinTech, has seen explosive performance on Pexels. In less than 2 months, WOCinTech photos have received over 27,000,000 image views and over 60,000 downloads.

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Our quest has only begun.

Today we are well over 3,000 high-quality photos stronger than we were 4 months ago, but we’re still not where we need to be. More photos representing differently abled people and images showing the baby boomer generation and beyond, for example, are still too few.

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Credit: Tatiana

While the 3,000+ might not seem like a massive leap, especially not when you compare it to our 500,000 photo library, we’ve strategically worked to surface these images so they appear in more results. Since many users will often pull the first beautiful photo that matches their search, we’re showing more of our newer, diverse content towards the top to help users make a conscious choice.

Interested in helping us improve representation? Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Are you a photographer? Upload your own images.
  • Are you a blogger? Switch up what images you use. Move away from the default.
  • Are you a small business owner? Audit the images on your site and make sure they represent more people.
  • Do you work or run a tech company that provides images for your customers? Perhaps you can integrate with Pexels for your own products.
  • Do you manage an open source diversity focused image sharing platform or does your company want to do a photoshoot? Get in touch with Pexels and let’s get your images added.

Here are a few other profiles sharing a variety of diverse images:



antas singh

godisable jacob

Dazzle Jam


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