Adam Haglund, one of the founders of Astrakan Images, explains here why our photos look the way they are. And what’s in it for you.
A few years ago I heard someone who works in publishing complain about the difficulty in finding good photos at stock photo agencies.
“That can’t be right”, I thought. “We take great pride in the quality of our photos.”
“Well…” they continued, “It’s not necessarily the quality of the image that’s in question. It’s the lack of range on offer that’s the issue.”
“All we seem to find is imagery depicting the norm, and typical stereotypes. It’s always photos of presumably straight, white middle class people in their 30s. Where is the diversity?”
I would love to consider myself something different, but I am clearly part of the norm: a white man in my 30s. I’m married, I live in the suburbs and I have two children. I drive a Saab, which is incredibly middle of the road when you live in Sweden.
There are countless photos of people like me in the stock photo agency libraries. And behind the scenes in the agency offices, everyone I know who works in this business also fits this description to a tee.
You might think, do stock photos even matter? Who cares?
It does matter. Stock photos are used everywhere. They’re all over most magazines, advertising, websites, etc. Tens of thousands of stock photos are published every day all over the world. So we are continuously bombarded with stereotypes.
For people like me, who are ostensibly part of the norm, it might not be something you notice. But for many others it’s a genuine concern that these images aren’t relatable to them.
Many people are excluded from these photos. It’s like people who deviate from the norm are invisible.
The norm, the version of life you see in most stock photo agencies, reflects a minority in the real world. Most people don’t look like the stock photo models, in more ways than one.
Their heritage is more diverse, they were born in different decades and live outside of the larger cities. They might identify as LGBTQ, live with disabilities, or deviate from the norm in a myriad of other ways.
The so-called normal actually excludes most people. So why isn’t this reflected in the stock photos?
Quite honestly we’ve been aware of the issue with lacking diversity for as long as we’ve been in the stock photos business. Both agencies and customers have pointed it out to us.
That’s why we started Astrakan Images. We take diversity seriously and our headquarters are in Malmö, Sweden – one of the most multicultural cities in the world. More than 176 nations are represented amongst the citizens of Malmö.
Our goal is to create images that challenge the stereotypes. Images that allow you as a user to find photos depicting some diversity more easily, and give the images a much more nuanced quality to present to your customers.
At Astrakan Images you’ll find photos of people who are proud to be a little bit “different”.
We love feedback so please let us know what you think of our photos, or to let us know you couldn’t find what you were looking for. We aim to continuously improve how we depict the world around us.
founder of Astrakan Images
We like colors and shapes, of all kinds. The more the merrier!
We aim for clean compositions, cool environments and natural looking people.
Our images depict everyday life at home and at work. Candid images of life as it is.