Photography Ideas

We Need More Black Brazilians in Stock Photography

We Need More Black Brazilians in Stock Photography

Despite making up over half the population in Brazil, Black people are rarely represented in advertising. Beatriz Lopes is working to change that.

The authentic representation of society is one of our most important values at Shutterstock. That’s why we’ve been dedicating global efforts to make more diverse visual content available on our platform. In Brazil, we know this topic is critical, and that there’s a long way to go.

The project Re_Modelar, a partnership between Shutterstock and WMcCann, acts at the root of the issue. Created by Beatriz Lopes, the initiative encourages young talent to develop their career in commercial photography, in order to produce more images that represent Brazilian Black people as protagonists, free of clichés or bias.

That’s because a visual narrative is far more real and powerful when it’s conceived by professionals and artists who are also from that community.

Here, Shutterstock talked to Lopes about the importance of the project, contributing to the evolution of representation and culture in Brazil, and the values that can move us towards more inclusive and truthful messages.

Beatriz Lopes
Beatriz Lopes. Image via Suellen Lopes.

Shutterstock: How do you see the representation of the Black population in the Brazilian advertising and media industry?

Beatriz Lopes: Tiny and slow. The change is noticeable in recent years in advertising, but still, we have a long way to go and evolve. We need Black bodies out of the stereotyped context, still very much attributed to us. Unfortunately, representation is still very small compared to a country with a 54% Black population.

Female Influencer
Image via Ana Luzia 13.

SSTK: What’s the importance of showing more diversity in this context?

BL: “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See,” Marian Edelman used to say, and that’s exactly what best translates the importance of representation. Brazil is diverse, and knowing that most of the population is Black, we need to represent [Black people] in all positions and contexts. 

Representation today is one of the clearest and most straightforward ways of promoting identification and empowerment. It expands our view of what we can be and evidences our existence. Advertising plays a fundamental role in building the imaginary in society.

Fun Gestures
Image via Ana Luzia 13.

SSTK: Why does stock photography need to be part of this conversation?

BL: That’s a very interesting question because, since I started developing this project, I’ve been discovering how much stock photography is one of the roots that intensifies the absence of Black people in advertising.

I was able to talk to many creative professionals, art directors, and creative directors, and noticed how much stock photography was part of the daily routine at agencies, and what a hard time [people] had trying to find images, overall, portraying diversity.

Woman Texting
Image via Brastock.

SSTK: You had the idea to create this project from personal experiences. Could you tell us a little bit about your inspiration?

BL: Yes, it was from a job I did in Haiti.

In January 2019, I went to Port-au-Prince, the capital and poorest region of Haiti. After a month, I spent two days in a city nearby, one of the most developed in Haiti. Walking in the streets, squares, and supermarkets, I was watching the billboards and I was surprised to see that the people represented and featured on all of the home advertising were non-Black people, and the population is mostly Black over there.

I was shocked, and when I returned to Brazil, I started to research and discover how often brands and companies did not want to associate their brand with Black people, as if their brand would be lowered. Then, I identified a structural racism, and a lack of representation in campaigns and OOH [out-of-home] advertising with people from all races, social classes, and genders.

And, from there, I started to see other spheres and realize that the Brazilian reality was no different from Haiti—and when Black people were featured, it was in the context of diversity.

From this discomfort, I began to think how my repertoire of photographer, creative, and art director could contribute and add to the progress of diversity and change this scenario in advertising. That’s how Re_modelar was created.

Female Dentist
Image via Ana Luzia 13.

SSTK: How do you envision the Re_Modelar project being able to help the advertising industry to portray the Brazilian Black community in a more authentic way?

BL: By bringing diverse points of view, and the perspective of Black experiences to stock photographs. There are many initiatives and support around [the push for diversity] in the communication and advertising industry, in my view.

It is important to highlight that there are projects prior to Re_modelar with the same purpose, to assist and transform the communication industry in a more diverse and inclusive environment.

It is up to the market to use the proposed means.

Mother and Daughter
Image via JLco Julia Amaral.

SSTK: Would you like to share any message or best practices with the creative community on this topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

BL: It is very important to understand that Re_modelar project is an invitation, and the openness of everyone is essential—so it truly becomes a concrete action. I would like to invite creative professionals to “Re_model”  their day-to-day projects, and question themselves: “What can I do in my day to change this scenario?”

”Am I featuring Black people out of the context of diversity? Am I showing the diversity of Black people out of the stereotypes?”  

Re_modelar is an invitation to apply diversity without superficialities and make diversity no longer a theme, but a commitment.

Cover image via JLco Julia Amaral.

The post We Need More Black Brazilians in Stock Photography appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

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