Diversity in photos and illustrations

Credits: The Gender Spectrum Collection

If you’ve been looking for more diversity in photos or illustrations for your learning projects, you’d found out that it takes a bit more effort. I once did a series of elearning modules where the people in the images should be from diverse backgrounds and shouldn’t smile or show heavy emotions due to the topic. Then you suddenly realise that most photos are full of young and white smiling people!
It’s great to hear that more clients are asking for diverse imagery and I’m seeing more resources coming available. Whether it’s a different skin colour, age, race, disability or LGBTQIA+ images you’re looking for, it’s good to have a list with more diverse resources. I’ve compiled a list of websites with illustrations and photos that offer more diversity. Some are free, others are paid. Have a look yourself!

Diverse illustrations

Illustration Kit -free

The Illustration Kit website offers free illustrations to use in commercial and non-commercial projects. What I really like, is that you can choose between three skin colours. You can also change the main colour and the support colour in the illustration, which is great for people who aren’t graphic designers. You can also keep track of the new images that are under development or published that week.

Humaaans -free

I mentioned Humaaans before. They offer free illustrations to mix and match people with a selection of skin colours, clothing including head dress, and/or a wheelchair. You can also download the series in one go.

Black Illustrations – $

The illustrations on the Black Illustrations website are categorised and paid for by theme. Most themed packages include 30 to 50 illustrations. Themes vary from activism and cooking to business and disability.

Storyset – $

Similar to Illustration Kit, Storyset offers the option to change the skin colour and the main colour in the illustration. It gets even better: if there are two people in the illustration, they can have different skin colours (feels like real life 😊). You can choose to hide the background or have less detail. It also offers you to hide specific layers, for example, hide a plant, a person or a speech bubble. What I aldo like about this website, is that you can choose an illustration and then see similar illustrations in different styles.

Creative Market – $

You’ll find lots of styles and different illustrators, all in one place on the Creative Market website. You may need to look a bit longer, but within minutes I found a collection of 220 diverse faces and an abstract people bundle with over 700 people under the ‘Illustrations tab’. I also found a curvy woman selection and a multiracial disabled people’ set under the ‘Graphics’ tab.

illustration of woman making a podcast
Credits: Illustration Kit

Diverse photos

Centre for Ageing Better – free

The Centre for Ageing Better has compiled a fantastic photo library with older people exercising, working, in their community etc. They’re all open source and downloadable in different sizes.

The Gender Spectrum Collection – free

The VICE photo library offers photos of trans and non-binary people. They’re free to use as long as the photos with identifiable faces are not used for sensitive topics, such as sexual health, crime, violence or mental health.

Disabled and Here Collection – free

The Affect website has a ‘Disabled and Here Collection’ celebrating disabled, black, indigenous and people of colour. The photos (and a few illustrations) are free to share under a creative commons license 2.0. A donation to support the project is appreciated.

Nappy – free

When you’re looking for beautiful and free photos of people of colour, the Nappy website is the place to go. It offers a wide range of photos with good quality under creative commons license zero.

Tonl – $

The Tonl website is a bit different. It not only offers beautiful images of diverse people, but also people’s narratives.

AUstock photo – $$

This AUstock photo website offers Australian photos only, which is great if you’re looking for photos with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prices increase significantly for the high-resolution photos.

This is Australia Collection – $$

Getty Images offers a collection of photos made in Australia, showing a lot of diversity. There’s only a small selection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander photos included. Of course, you can find other diverse people’s images in this photo library (similar to Shutterstock etc.). They come with a hefty price tag though.

Gary Radler- $$

The Gary Radler website has two fabulous collections of people with a disability and Aboriginal people. You’ll need a license though. Unfortunately, there’s no pricing on the website . When used for sensitive topics, you need to reference that the person is a model.

Keep exploring

Looking further than the stock-standard photo libraries can give you better illustrations and photos. There are great finds for every budget and I’m pretty sure there’s more if you take the time to explore. Enjoy your search and do let me know what you’ve found.

Please note that the terms and conditions of use may differ, so always check the fine print.

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