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Creating Diversity in Stock Photography

Lesson 3 of 6

Diversity in Who You Love

Joshua Kissi

Creating Diversity in Stock Photography

Joshua Kissi

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Lesson Info

3. Diversity in Who You Love


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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

Diversity in Who You Love

The next one is diversity in who you love. And this one is really special. I had the pleasure of shooting both of them as well. The gentleman on the right is friends of mine. We worked in a fashion industry for a very long time. And he saw TONL and he was just like, hey, I'm about to get married and I would love for you to take these photos. And we live in an interesting neighborhood in Brooklyn. Like it's the dynamic of you might have people that may say stuff or you might have people that would be happy with it. But we got different messages while we were shooting and it was just, to me it just solidified why this was important. I'm here with my camera shooting people who are in love, that's what matters. Doesn't matter what anybody else says in the street or what people think are appropriate. And I'm like, wow for a stock photographer you're getting pretty deep here into like people's lives, my own life, my own beliefs, what I'm able to really support and really stand by. And someti...

mes we can support things upfront and sometimes I support that but at a distance. But in that moment I was able to challenge myself and be like, hey, these guys are in love. Their love is equal as everybody else's, let's capture that. And this was in a better neighborhood of Brooklyn so that's where that happened. And this was captured in Seattle. This is Laura Clise. She works here in Seattle. She's the founder of, I forgot her company. Oh man, The Intentionalist, yes, yes. The Intentionalist and it's all about intentionally supporting small businesses here in Seattle as well so she's like a great figure for Seattle. But she was adopted and of course she's married a woman as well. So it's interesting capturing her story as well. Being corporative america, being able to come out as a woman and for her, she's like, I'm not the Ellen DeGeneres type of coming out. My coming out story's very different so I want people to know about that as well. So we did a whole type of like interview process with her and it was great to just have that opportunity to just capture her as well. It's another couple in London that I captured. They're a young couple, again in love. And it's just to show the youth within it. Like not married, not serious but just having fun and love the person that they're with. And we're really, really, really excited to capture these type of perspectives 'cause this is what you don't see within the competitive stock photography companies. And for us it was like, we're not trying to compete with anybody necessarily, all we want to do is show the truth. Like we're not trying to be the next Ghetti or the next whatever. All we want to do is show the truth in people's stories. And that was really important for us. This was also captured here in Seattle. Interracial same sex couple. These images feel weird for certain people but it's like no, this is beautiful. This should be highlighted, this should be shown in magazines and every where else and if you're uncomfortable with it, that's just you. But for me, it's like hey, as a photographer you're a truth teller. So if you're skewing the photo, the subject to represent your own personal beliefs in a negative way, I don't feel that's the way to go about it. So for me, I look at my camera and be like hey, this is another way to write their story. Basically your camera's a pen. It's how you're writing a story from what perspective. For me it was really important to stand by all types of people. So here's a quote from me probably from last year. But I was pretty much seeing a photo like a page from a history book. It's a visual representation of how we live right now. So you can basically take a selfies by the Highline which is a park in New York and 30 years from now someone will know how we were living in which was back then when I stated it. It's literally a historical reference. It can be very powerful and it isn't going out of style. The idea of TONL came from looking at community, commerce and culture and figuring out what that means to me. So that was just my personal testimony to how TONL came about. But I literally was looking at imagery as becoming more and more popular. Everybody's on their phones more and more. When it comes to media, when it comes to what we see on billboards. Imagery is becoming more and more popular and I'm just like, this is important, this is a reference point to history. It just depends on how you look at it. So the selfies you're taking and all that good stuff, your children's children, children will be able to see the selfies you took which is great and it's not a bad thing at all but for me it was just like, okay, images isn't like, this rapid just like excess thing, it could actually be important. So that really went into how we highlighted TONL.

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.