Dear stock photographers…

We’ve got a problem. The problem is that stock photos for pregnancy and postpartum are utterly ridiculous.

Sometimes there a complete lack of…..a clue about birth, like the images on the right here. They haven’t taken the time to even spell the words right, learn how the uterus is oriented in the human body, or make sure there’s an exit and placenta in the uterus! (Where *does* the cord connect in that last one?)

Also, there’s a few things you need to know about pregnant people:

They generally don’t walk around all day with their baby belly hanging out of their clothes. Or with long trailing diaphanous pieces of fabric.

They do occasionally let go of their belly and touch other things, if only to reach for the rose, ribbon or alphabet blocks to hold in front of their belly.

They hug their partner *facing* them, not like this.

And please, please, please, don’t add irrelevant keywords! When I search for a photo of a newborn footprint, the results shouldn’t look like this:

And we need to have a serious talk about how new moms are represented. Yes, it’s annoying and true that far too many new mom photos are white women wearing perfectly clean and pressed white clothing and sitting in gorgeous light. But the problems run deeper. I have searched long and hard on multiple stock photo sites for a photo of someone who recently gave birth being cared for. Someone bringing her food while she nurses. Or doing dishes while she relaxes. Caring for older children, cleaning, folding laundry, ANYTHING that shows a new mom being cared for and having a chance to rest and snuggle the baby. And I found nothing. Not a single photo. Instead, the newly postpartum parent is pictured cooking, feeding older children, cleaning etc themselves, usually with the new baby strapped to them or in a baby seat nearby. There are also lots of very sad women in photos of postpartum. Maybe because no one is taking care of them and they’re expected to strap the baby on to them and do it all?

Some other stock photos on my wish list that I can’t find anywhere:

  • A photo showing anitbiotic eye ointment being given to a newborn
  • A photo of a newborn without a hat that shows normal molding of a newborn’s head
  • A photo that shows a close up of lanugo
  • Photos of common birth marks

We could also use some serious diversity in the images of new families. While writing this article, I struggled in vain to find a photo of a black parent breastfeeding. Searching for “breastfeeding black woman” brought up….black and white photos of white women breastfeeding. Searching for “Breastfeeding African American” brought up more of the same, plus photos of giraffes, gorillas and zebras breastfeeding. I found two photos of topless National Geographic style images. But it was impossible to find a photo of a person of color that my clients can relate to feeding their baby at home. If I wanted an image to illustrate chestfeeding… or any part of the birthing or parenting experience with LGBTQIA people I would have nothing!

Not much diversity here….

Stock photographers, you can do better!

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