Diversity Marketing: The Best Stock Photos for Inclusive Imagery

Whether you’re a blogger or marketing agency, you share one common goal: finding the best stock photos. And now that diversity marketing is finally the norm, not the exception, you need website-ready inclusive imagery. Well, look no further. In this royalty-free photography list, you’ll find photos of diverse people in stunning settings. Some of the sites in my list offer free stock photography. They also all have photos with similar prices to Shutterstock (but they look so much better)!

best stock photography: diverse, global people

Real People Photos vs. Staged Stock Photography

You might be wondering: What’s wrong with Shutterstock?

One of the problems with the big-brand stock photography is the obvious “staged model” look to them. The worst is when models look straight at the camera and smile — while in awkward positions. These dental office shots are prime examples. Smiles. So. Big. (Must be the Percocet!)


hilarious stock photos: smiling dental patients and dentists

Notice anything about the montage? Yep. Everyone has smooth hair and light skin. No size or age diversity. No uniqueness of any kind.

Until recently, finding stock photos of happy, contemporary diverse people was nearly impossible. For instance, when searching keywords like diverse people on the beach, in a park, at work, or shopping…I got nada.

Thankfully, some entrepreneurs noticed this void and filled it! Before I show you the best resources I’ve found, here’s a brief PSA for all the photographers out there.

When looking for specific imagery, if you have the budget for it, please try to…

Support Your Local Photographer

If the message you want to convey in your marketing is authenticity or individuality, generic shots won’t do. If you have the budget, contact a local photographer. If you don’t have the budget, read on!

1. The Best Stock Photos for Website Banners


CreatHER: the best stock photos and inclusive imagery for websites, blogs


One of the best free photography resources, in my opinion, is CreateHER. The quality of the shots are stellar in colour, theme, and style.

What’s more, the compositions and dimensions are absolutely PERFECT for websites. That’s because CreateHER photos leave some space for text to go. This is crucial for website banner text.

For inclusive imagery that’s website ready, this photography resource is on top of its game. CreateHer offers both free pics and exclusive for-purchase options.

2. The Best Resource for Inclusive Imagery


Tonl features stunning photos of various cultures from around the globe. The angles, lighting, and spirit of the people in the photos are unique and full of life. So if you’re looking for photos with natural poses and diverse people of all sizes, ages, and skin tones, you will love Tonl. I’d say they’re far better than Getty Images and Shutterstock’s forced, posed shots!

royalty-free photography: diverse, global people



3. The Best Free Stock Photography


As a former art student, I find Nappy’s work to be exceptionally artistic in quality. They have everything from action shots, aerial views, and beautiful portraits. Sure, their library may be small (for now). But what they lack in bulk, they make up for in beauty. If you’ve used Colorstock before they closed shop, you’ll appreciate Nappy even more. Be sure to bookmark them for diverse marketing images.

Nappy free stock photography: beautiful diverse people for diversity marketing

If you’re a photographer making relevant work, submit your shots to Nappy. The process is easy!

Diversity Marketing Shows How Life Really Is

Until these sites emerged, finding great free stock photography of diverse people was almost impossible. Now I can find students, ballerinas, techies — you name it — in every colour, size, and age. Plus they’re depicted doing cool things, they’re shot artistically, and they’re in interesting settings.

Let me know if these photography websites helped your diversity marketing efforts.

To learn how libraries serve a diverse community, visit Ensuring Libraries Are Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive.

Thanks for reading!