This Photo Collection Is Changing How We See Ourselves
Would a female construction worker really wear a crop top and peep-toe heels? Would a woman go on a bike ride in a lacy thong? No and no. But depictions of that sort still appear all around us because the world of stock photos, the generic pictures that thousands of brands pay to use in ads and magazines and on billboards, has been slow to evolve. "The photography industry has traditionally been run by straight white dudes," says Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images, one of the world's best-known stock photo houses. "But with social media, women are sharing pictures of their lives that are more inclusive—which has led clients to ask for more authentic images. Part of my job is broadening what beauty and power can look like."
Schoolwork. Left: Jutta Klee/Getty Images. Right: Steve Debenport/Getty Images.
With that goal in mind, Grossman launched Getty's Lean In collection (working with Sheryl Sandberg's nonprofit of the same name) in 2014 to capture the female experience in all its complexity. "We show women from different backgrounds and careers, and girls in rock bands, and just raising their hands in school," she says. "That's the vision of the future I want to be exposed to."
Teamwork. Left: Anna Peisl/Getty Images. Right: Jessie Casson/Getty Images.
"I want customers to embrace these images—and use them. Humans are hardwired for symbols: The more we can see these kinds of photos, the faster our perceptions about gender roles can change. We're seeding the world with more positive pictures."