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Creating Diversity in Stock Photography

Lesson 1 of 6

Class Introduction

Joshua Kissi

Creating Diversity in Stock Photography

Joshua Kissi

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction


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1 Class Introduction Duration:03:40
3 Diversity in Who You Love Duration:04:09
6 Q&A Duration:21:59

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I'm Joshua Kissi, here to do a talk around stock photography and putting diversity in it. So here's some background. These images are of course, diverse, but I took them for an editorial campaign for a church I go to, which is great. But they also were very, very useful images, which was great. But basically, my background is in editorial, fashion photography. And stock photography was nothing I ever wanted to take or even pursue. So even when I used to get emails from Adobe and the likes, I would just be like, hey, I'm not interested in stock photography, because I didn't feel like it was creatively challenging, in a way. And so in a lot of ways, I shied away from it. Years later, I co-found a stock photography company. So that's just the irony within it all. But when I started out, all these stock photos, so I was like, the lady with the salad, and the room with everybody around the board table. And I was just like, I do not want to do that. Literally, I know stock photography is way...

more than that. So I'm gonna walk through some of the importance of why stock photography needs to be diverse. But TONL is basically the company with myself and Karen Okonkwo, who modeled earlier. We started a year ago. So we're half based in New York and half based in Seattle. So it's a New York and Seattle based company. And we have photographers who capture diverse perspectives, different types of people, and fulfilling the representation gap. So we started a year ago, and we're really, really happy where we're at. But this whole talk isn't gonna be about TONL, but more about the photographer's perspective when it comes to capturing diverse imagery. So it's just my personal perspective within it all. But I'll just go through some little slides and key points as to why. So our voices and visibility matter. Photography and storytelling can help humanize and diminish the stereotypes and prejudice against black, brown people, and other various ethnic backgrounds. We wanted to challenge the state of homogenous look of traditional stock photography by showcasing the many ethnic backgrounds of everyday people. And here's another slide, a great quote. When you subconsciously neglect diversity, you are consciously neglecting representation. It is something to really think through, because diversity has been a buzzword if you're in corporate or if you're reading media. There's cultural appropriation. There's all this conversation around race, culture, what's appropriate, what's not, politics of just race and culture. So this company was inspired by a lot of that, but also trying to be a mediating voice and just kind of voice of reason and truth. So this is some background behind it. So another stat we have, globally, generation M, which is millennials, are projected to be a quarter of the world's population, 2.8 billion, by 2050. And the second one, Europe grows more and more ethnically and racially diverse. Interracial couples have increased year on year in England, Wales, France. Italy has seen a 172% increase in multi-ethnic marriages since 2001, according to the Italian Institute of Statistics. So it's just giving you a broad range of how the world is changing, so it's not me just sitting up here like, hey, this is why we need to be diverse. But the world is actually super different, involving a lot of ways. So TONL, the missions seeks to transform the idea of stock photography by displaying images of diverse people and their stories around the world.

Class Description

It’s important to have diversity in all aspects of our lives, and that includes stock photography. Those photos are used everywhere—from banner ads to websites to billboards—so it’s critical that they truly represent our diverse society. Joshua Kissi, photographer and co-founder of the TONL Agency, which specializes in culturally diverse imagery, will help you make your photos more inclusive and depict people of all walks of life.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Pose your subjects in unique ways.
  • Use different types of lighting, including studio and natural.
  • Evoke the expression you want from your subjects.

Stock photos don’t have to look the same. In fact, they shouldn’t! Learn how to add diversity and culture to your images so you can succeed in this burgeoning field.



This class is great for thinking about diversity in people for the subjects of photos. I would like to see the instructor come back to teach a class on lighting or editing people with various shades of skin color -- one of the questions asked in the video. I'm interested to see his methods.