Queer Stock Photos that Don't Suck
We went deep on stock photo sites, so you don’t have to!
Let’s be honest – the world of stock photography is very straight, skinny and white. If you’re looking for photos of "couples", you’ll likely find exactly one million photos of hetero couples in a variety of Instagram-worthy locations. Or a search for "CEO" will serve up some white man in a suit.
Stock photo sites can be a bleak place for queer people who want to see themselves represented in everyday life.
Case in Point.
Also, I feel like she must be freezing?
Unfortunately it doesn’t improve much when you start actively searching for photos with Rainbow representation. The most popular options often have an aura of tokenism, include dangerous stereotypes, or are just plain confusing. It can be painfully obvious that they haven’t been created by queer photographers or even feature queer models.
So. Many. Questions.
Is the avocado gay? How is it wearing this flag? What does it all mean?
A cornerstone of stock photography is sexy, but PC, photos. This is the straightest and most problematic category of them all.
Excuse me sir, please don’t hold condoms with your teeth.
The worst of it is the seemingly endless number of sexual photos that showcase food. Eggplants with condoms, grapefruit vaginas being penetrated and oozing mystery liquid, and so on.
Dear Internet, stock photo users and stock photo photographers: it’s time we had a little chat about these photos.
Did you know that in Māori culture, it’s important to keep things that are tapu separate from things that are noa? Food is noa and the human body and bodily substances are tapu - so they need to be kept separate at all times. It’s the reason that you wouldn’t sit on a kitchen bench, or have sex in the kitchen.
So, if you’re creating content for Aotearoa, you shouldn’t use photos where food looks like it is being used for sex, is placed on the human body, or is being contaminated. If in doubt, find a different image!
Amongst the sea of heteronormativity there are some glimmers of hope – we’ve found the best photos, content creators and sites for free queer inclusive photography.
- The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés. This collection aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives.
- Pexels is a free stock photo website that in June 2020 announced they had updated their search algorithms and curating processes to give greater presence to queer & LGBTI+ images and people in search results.
- Anna Shvets – Anna’s Pexels page is fill of queer and sex positive photos you can use for free. You can also support her by following her on Instagram.
- Ketut Subiyanto - Ketut’s Pexels page has lots of options of gay couples being cute, sexy and living their ordinary lives., It can take a bit of scrolling to find them as they have so many great photos, but it’s worth the scrolling time, trust us.
- Dainis Graveris - Dainis is a sex educator who helps people enjoy sex more. He has free sex positive photos for creatives to use in their own work and articles. Keep in mind some of these photos include imagery with food, please be respectful to Māori and avoid using these.