Getty Images has partnered with Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn.org to improve how women appear in stock photography.

Stock photography--images that are licensed to marketing departments of companies, for example--have long shown a when it features women]sexualized, stereotypical portrayals of woman in the workplace.

To wit, in 2007, Getty’s top selling image of a woman featured her lounging around naked in bed, wrapped up in linens, gazing passively into the camera.

Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty, has been working for about a decade on improving how women appear in imagery.

“One of the biggest changes that we’ve found [in image sales] is a shift from a women looking like an accessory or an object to this really more empowered subject,” she tells Co.Design.

“Now they are on a train, going places, at work, engaged at work. They’re not posing for the camera, because they’re too busy.”

This is the first time Getty has joined forces with a nonprofit.

The collection of 2,500 images (Getty has 150 million images) echoes a lot of Sandberg’s philosophies from Lean In

The women and girls featured look sensible, engaged in what they're doing, and--most importantly--resemble actual women.

The Lean In collection also corrects some of stock photography's perennial mistakes. For instance, the women working out in these images are actually putting some muscle into their exercise, instead of just looking pretty near equipment.

Parenting is shown in a more loving--and therefore empowering--light, whereas the old images showed a screaming baby crawling around on work papers, near a harried mother. Here, the image also reflects the contemporary role of the father.

To create photographs that feel like authentic representations of how women live their lives, Getty is nixing the old all-white studio backdrops, and backing away from working with modeling agencies.

Instead, they’re sourcing real athletes and professionals, and even asking friends and families of photographers to pose.

The photos also show men taking on domestic roles, or engaged in creative collaboration with women at work.

View the Lean In collection, here.

Co.Design

First Look: Inside Getty's Quest To Change The Public Perception Of Women

Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame has partnered with Getty Images to overhaul the stock image. The result? Tattooed moms, dads changing diapers, and girls on skateboards.

Stock photography is often eye-rollingly awful, but is especially so when it features women. To wit, in 2007, Getty’s top selling image of a woman featured her lounging around naked in bed, wrapped up in linens, gazing passively into the camera. Given that the financial and pharmaceutical industries are Getty’s biggest buyers, and that most women don’t actually lay around like bored trophy wives all day, this made little sense.

Which is why, for nearly a decade, Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty, has been working on improving how women appear in imagery. So far, she says, it’s working: “One of the biggest changes that we’ve found [in image sales] is a shift from a women looking like an accessory or an object to this really more empowered subject,” she tells Co.Design. “Now they are on a train, going places, at work, engaged at work. They’re not posing for the camera, because they’re too busy.”

Image: Tony Anderson

Getty--under Grossman’s lead--has now partnered with Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.org to create a special library within Getty that prioritizes a more modern idea of feminism. This is the first time Getty has joined forces with a nonprofit, and so far, the collection of 2,500 images (Getty has 150 million images) echoes a lot of Sandberg’s philosophies from Lean In. Click through the photos, and you'll see a more diverse sampling of women--all of whom look elegant and focused. And among the women surfing and the young girls skateboarding, there are also tattooed dads helping kids get ready for school, and men collaborating with women in studios, because part of the Lean In credo is that men ought to embrace female empowerment as well. “We’re really trying to envision a more equal society,” Grossman says.

The Lean In gallery expects to update on a monthly basis--something that Grossman says is challenging, because of the need for high-quality images. To create photographs that feel like authentic representations of how women live their lives, Getty is nixing the old all-white studio backdrops, and backing away from working with modeling agencies. Instead, they’re sourcing real athletes and professionals, and even asking friends and families of photographers to pose. “It takes being really resourceful,” Grossman says. “But if everyone in this industry is going to up their game, I think that’s better for society.”

View the Lean In collection, here.

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14 Comments

  • Tony Mclaughinatya

    This new wave of Feminism reminds me very much of evangelical Christianity and Islam. I believe human beings crave spirituality and we are seeing the replacement of the old religions with the new ones (Feminism and Enviromentalism).

  • GETTY AND HITLER OPERA Directed by Grant MacDonald Scene 44: Interior crane shot—camera pans around the Getty Museum. Close-up of LAPD Chief Beck holding a document from White House. LAPD Chief Beck addresses employees of the J. Paul Getty Museum:

  • “Officials … have found several artefacts attributed to the Nazi era. Could all employees of the Getty Museum remain in the building -- the doors are sealed. All employees of the Getty Museum … up against the wall … you’re all under arrest! Mr. Cuno; Mr. Cuno – do not go near the door – Mr. Cuno! Mr. Cuno has been shot -- Mr. Cuno!” A voice in the background …. “Is there something you don’t understand; Herr Getty? Do you find this amusing Herr Getty? What is it you don’t understand; Herr Getty?”

  • I earned the Getty Oil Company shareholders 4 Billion Bucks On the Reserve acquisition; the way they treat me -- it really sucks! As the Getty inheritors bask in glee; All I asked for was that they look after me. Four billion dollars they earned on Reserve My fee I surely deserve. It turns out J.P. Getty may have been a Nazi; His family even goes back to Germany. With Hitler, Goring & Goebbels he did stand; While trying to undermine the American land! For paintings & artifacts he did receive With his oil he was able to deceive? Hoover & the FBI and Roosevelt they knew That J.P. Getty & espionage he drew! Many a young lad and Jew did die As planes dropped bombs from the sky. For years while Getty sat in Berlin He may have committed many a sin.

  • The ashes and smoke from the chimneys it rose While old man Getty sat cozy; he chose. With artwork held tightly under his arm Still dripping in blood -- as the real owner met harm. Into the ovens & on meat-hooks, bullets between the eyes Listen very carefully you can still hear their cries! While the Gettys sit in England; at their estate at Wormsley And Gordon sings in San Francisco With his 727 in tow. The Getty museum sits atop Malibu While the corpses of World War 2 scream -- J.P. Getty -- We know you!

  • As aristocrats with treasures of art were executed -- beginning in 1933 -- with the outbreak of war; J.P. Getty assiduously added to his vast collection with the Nazis. The Ardabil carpet and Rembrandt of Marten Looten are at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Gainsborough of Christie purchased in 1938 is at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

  • An employee at the Getty owned Pierre Hotel in New York City wondered why there were so many Germans being hired and staying at The Pierre during World War II. He called the FBI and the FBI charged J.P. Getty with Espionage, FBI File 100.1202, June 26, 1940. It was the job of the FBI in peace and in war to root out internal enemies of the USA. The FBI report refers to Getty’s alliance with Göring, Goebbels & Hitler. FBI reported in 1942; that the Getty owned Spartan Aircraft Company which was the world's largest aeronautical school trained Nazis in Florida to become pilots during WWII even Pearl Harbor was attacked. 43,000 people were killed in the UK while J. Paul Getty was in Berlin still shipping oil to Hitler five months before Pearl Harbor; December 7, 1941. The mother of J.P. Getty was German.

  • Grant MacDonald & MACDONALD BANK are filing a $22,000,000,000 Getty/Hitler war crimes lawsuit in The Hague based on J. Paul Getty’s support for Hitler beginning in 1938 and the GETTY OIL COMPANY shipments of oil during the Battle of Britain.

    MACDONALD BANK

    • v. -

      J. PAUL GETTY TRUST; GORDON GETTY; RONALD GETTY; J. PAUL GETTY JR. ESTATE; MARK GETTY; ANNE GETTY EARHART; CLAIRE GETTY PERRY; CAROLINE GETTY; CALIFORNIA LT. GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM; CALIFORNIA DEMOCRAT NANCY PELOSI AND LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART.

    2003 documents declassified by UK Warfare Ministry reveal that in Oct. 1941 the pro-Nazi Jean Paul Getty employed and lodged Nazis at his Pierre Hotel in New York City; Nazis who were involved in spying on and sabotaging Allied Forces’ war production plant.

  • Curry Cravings

    Kudos to Sheryl Sandburg for spearheading this, and to Getty for looking at real women and the lives they really lead. It is high time women were regarded for what they really do, rather than what they appear to do :) Incremental steps towards equality!

  • Bravo, Getty. Let's see even more of those shots of women in uniform, real (read: older and less perfect-looking) women, strong women. And BOTH sexes combining kids and careers.