I was reading a post on “Cultural Diversity, What is Needed in Imaging?” over on the Micro Stock Group
forum, quite a lively topic with some good replies.
I posted a couple of replies myself and started to think ”just how diverse in other areas are the stock sites already?”, as we tend to have preconceptions and visual stereotypes, many images I see like this ones here are departmental, as they fit nicely into subconscious boxes, the ones that spring to mind are the many family images which are mostly mum, dad, kids and grandparents, I then considered how many of these typical families I know myself and there are not that many, so what if I had to write an article with a single parent and child as the focus, how diverse is the selection of images and what images to use?
We have a large number of single parent families in the UK 25% compared to AUS 14% and USA 9%, many of these parents are wage earners and some are single by choice, or relationship breakdown, with not all families fitting into the happy 2 + 2 + 2 family
I have created this fun scenario to research.Scenario:
I am a writer for a busy single parent magazine style blog, I am writing a lifestyle article for lone parents and their children which are my target group, the editors brief for this article is to aim at the single dads struggling with the work life balance and stuck for ideas to engage the child in activities in the home, it must show just the father and a son sharing quality time together maybe cooking, it is raining outside so they can not play sports or have a barbeque, as they are at home and in a one to one situation, the images need to show the two interacting with each other, they must show that they are relaxed and having fun, really comfortable and enjoying each others company, the child must have the parents full attention, these images must not be comedy shots with silly hats, pots on heads or unnatural poses with kitchen utensils, the child must be standing or seated safely, not standing on a chair, not sitting on the worktop, not near a flame, or doing anything that looks like it could be dangerous.
I wanted to see how well the Images are represented compared to the stereotypical gender thoughts about family roles like mum and daughters do cooking:
I first searched for suitable microstock images on one of the biggest websites:
- Family Cooking :863
- Mum and Daughter Cooking: 221
- Mum and Son Cooking: 85
- Dad and Daughter Cooking: 51
- Dad and Son Cooking: 44
I was not happy that the 44 images returned were a good fit for the brief, many were outside the house and barbeques, others had other people in the shot, some like this one were comical, in some the dad and son were not interacting, others with the child in arms or a sling or sitting on the worktop do not fit the brief, I was left with just about four Images.
I carried out the same search “Dad and Son Cooking” on a total of 11 stock sites, RM and RF Images but all had to be for Commercial Use and Model Released, changing the word Dad for Father had the same results in the searches.
Conclusion: The traditional sites only had a slightly larger choice, from the Microstock searches many images were on all the main websites, so overall I only had a handful of microstock images to choose from across all 8 websites.
Generally site by site from the returned images about only 5% – 10% from the search would be a match for this lone parent article, but “Family Cooking” on the selected website returned a massive 863 images, so it looks like as artists we still do not diversify enough and put a lot of content into our own comfort boxes.
The tip here to maybe think outside the box a bit when shooting family, try 2 + 2 + 2 add all 1 + 1 variations as well, then when searching there would be 863 “Family Cooking” and 863 “Dad and Son Cooking” images to choose from.
Seeing the limited choice I went back to my selected website to purchase the selected images for this blog post, the choice was just a narrow two images, so I purchased them both at xs, I would rather have purchased two shots with the same models, the first of these I saw many times and had become irritating, but to be fair it did have some variants, and I could have purchased them from any of the microstock sites:
If we look at many blogs there are often stock images in the posts as hooks, with affiliate links and targeted Google Adsense blocks on the page, these sites will have no product, so the revenue to maintain the sites is generated just from these adverts, to bring traffic to the website the content must be dynamic and updated often to bring the readers back, user forums are a classic example, so as much as the images are used in an editorial article, they are used as hooks for commercial reasons.
The business in the scenario is the website itself, and it would use such images to attract readers to the blog articles, with the hope that another advert would catch the eye of the reader and generate revenue for the owners, the adverts are targeted on the blog site to the content, and could be for many services aimed at single parents, the first ones to jump to mind are dating agencies ,singles holidays, social clubs, restaurants, support groups, associations.
Note: the links in this blog post are standard links and not affiliate links, the images are all purchased and rights reserved by the photographers and should not be copied.