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13 resources for culturally diverse stock photos

Diverse Stock Photos

Visual representation is a powerful tool. As creatives, we hold responsibility for the ways our work shapes audiences’ perceptions about the world around us.

As a result, it’s important to be intentional about representing people of different ethnicities, body sizes, genders, abilities and circumstances in our works - both in print and web design. By using images that show the diversity of our human community, we can help acknowledge and empower a wide range of voices and narratives.

The following 13 resources for diversity stock photos, both paid and free, will help you achieve greater inclusivity and accessibility in your creative practice, in your overall website design efforts and when making a website:

13 resources for diversity stock photo

  1. Body Liberation Stock

  2. CreateHER Stock

  3. Disabled and Here

  4. Nappy

  5. TONL

  6. Picnoi

  7. WOCinTech Chat

  8. The Gender Spectrum Collection

  9. UKBlackTech

  10. Unsplash

  11. Wix Media Manager

  12. Stocksy

  13. Shutterstock

01. Body Liberation Stock

Type of license: Royalty Free | Paid

The Body Liberation Stock photography website offers inclusive, diverse and body positive stock photos and images. Championing all body sizes, skin colors, looks and orientations, the stock photos are priced with freelance graphic designers and small business owners in mind.

Most of the people photographed for the website are not professional models. In addition, there is minimal digital editing so that the images accurately reflect the subjects’ real-life appearance.

The people portrayed in the photos are captured doing the things that they usually do. Be it a Black software developer, a plus-size weightlifter or a person using a walking cane, the subjects are shown in settings that they are familiar and comfortable with. This fosters a strong sense of authenticity in the photographs, and makes them a natural fit for your inclusive design projects.

02. CreateHER Stock

Type of license: Royalty Free | Paid with select free options

Founded by Neosha Gardner, CreateHER Stock offers images of women of color for creatives and content creators. The website’s 3,500+ photographs cover an array of topics, including wellness, business and lifestyle.

Site visitors are encouraged to reach out to the CreateHer Stock team for collaboration opportunities, such as selling their stock photos. There is also a monthly email newsletter featuring new photos and offering freebies.

03. Disabled and Here

Type of license: Public Domain | Free

This disability-led project provides free stock photos of disabled BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color). The project’s mission statement is to depict people with disability and chronic illness as more multifaceted than the media tends to portray. The images are free to use, share and adapt, as long as appropriate credit is given.

The photos revolve around themes of LGBTQ+, lifestyle photography, work and social life. On their nonprofit website, the project also shares interviews with the people photographed, helping them voice their experiences relating to ability, accessibility and many other topics.

04. Nappy

Type of license: Creative Commons Zero | Free

Created by talent agency Shade, Nappy’s mission is to improve the representation of Black and Brown people in the media, helping organizations and individuals alike to be purposeful about the topic.

For this reason, Nappy provides candid, high-resolution free stock photos, and creators are encouraged to use them in any way they’d like. Giving credit is recommended, but not obligatory.

A person in a mountain landscape by Nappy.

05. TONL

Type of license: Commercial & Editorial Use | Paid with select free options

TONL’s images strive to reflect different lives and narratives more truthfully. Their website accompanies the photos with text in order to contextualize them, telling a larger story. The stories told range in topic, from indigenous mothers to Ramadan celebrations.

The collection can be browsed either by narrative or by categories that include food and drink, everyday life, fitness, culture, travel and more.

Two women playing soccer by TONL.

06. Picnoi

Type of license: Royalty Free | Free

Providing free stock photos “for a colorful world” and showing a wide variety of people, Picnoi’s photographs are meant for anyone operating in the digital world, from graphic designers to people who’ve choose to create a free blog. Attribution isn’t necessary, but encouraged.

A stock photo by Picnoi of a man on a gravel road.

07. WOCinTech Chat

Type of license: Creative Commons Attribution | Free

Operating on Flickr, one of the best free image hosting sites, WOCinTech Chat seeks to broaden perceptions of what people who are entrepreneurs or software engineers might look like.

The images depict women of color engaging in technical tasks in the workforce, such as writing lines of code or chairing a meeting. This collection of diversity stock photos is free for download and use, as long as the images are properly credited.

A stock photo by WOCinTech Chat of a woman at work.

8. The Gender Spectrum Collection

Type of license: Creative Commons | Free

This collection by Vice includes photographs of transgender and non-binary individuals that are free to download and use. The photos are arranged by category, including lifestyle, relationships, work, and more.

While available for free, The Gender Spectrum Collection urges users to make appropriate contextual decisions when using its photos, considering how the use of the visual can reflect on the trans community. They hope that the images will serve in defying traditional stereotypes and eliminating implicit gender biases.

A transmasculine person in a winter coat on the sidewalk.

9. UKBlackTech

Type of license: Creative Commons | Free

UKBlackTech is a British organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Black and ethnic minorities in the tech sector. Upon identifying that most young people of ethnic minorities don’t see themselves represented in tech, the organization set up a photoshoot to create such portrayals.

The photos are available for free, but require attribution.

A stock photo of two people at work by UKBlackTech.

10. Unsplash

Type of license: Creative Commons Zero | Free

Unsplash is a platform that encourages the free sharing, manipulating and resharing of creative work. While attribution is not required, giving credit is a good practice for supporting other artists.

Browse through Unsplash by categories, topics, or using the search bar. In addition, you can dive into different collections that promote diversity, such as Real People, Real Smiles, More Diversity Please, and many others.

Users of the Wix website builder can enjoy full access to a million high-resolution media files from Unsplash, directly on the Wix Editor.

11. Wix Media Manager

The Wix Media Manager includes hundreds of high-quality free Wix images and video files that can be instantaneously added to your website background or pages, and are free for digital use within Wix.

The collection can be browsed by a variety of categories, from health and wellness to weddings and celebrations. You can choose your preferred orientation (horizontal or vertical) and color palette.

Through the Wix Media Manager, you also can access additional images from Unsplash and Shutterstock (under their individual licensing terms and costs).

A stock photo of a mother and child shopping for groceries.

12. Stocksy

Type of license: Royalty Free | Paid

Stocksy takes pride in their creative integrity and respect for artists while consciously searching for more inclusive imagery. The images can be browsed by a wide range of trending topics, with examples such as self-care and working from home.

Stocksy also offers special curated collections around themes such as diversity, people with Down syndrome, and more.

13. Shutterstock

Type of license: Royalty Free | Paid

Shutterstock’s immense collection of photography, videos, digital illustrations and icon packs is a good option for exploring diversity stock photos.

You can navigate the site by categories, type of visual, or using the search bar. You can also look through Shutterstock’s Diversity Collection and Offset’s Diversity Collection.

Middle-aged woman looking out of the window in the boardroom.

The above does not constitute legal advice and should be used for informational purposes only.

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