Explore what modern, updated stock photos of the LGBTQ+ community can look like and discover how to create your own authentic images.

There is no doubt a need for more representative LGBTQ+ imagery on stock marketplaces. In a recent LGBTQ+ community survey, 75% of surveyed LGBTQ community members say they feel more positive about businesses that include transgender and gender-expansive imagery in their outreach communications. But, finding imagery that is truly accurate and representative can be difficult within stock.

LGBTQ+ Stock Photos Need an Update: Here's What to Submit — Representative LGBTQ+ Photos
We need authentic and representative images of the LGBTQ+ community. Image by Cavan Images.

Why LGBTQ+ Representation in Stock is Important 

In his article on the importance of diversity in stock, Shutterstock curator and photographer Ryan McCoy says “As someone who identifies as a person within the LGBTQ+ community, I understand what it feels like to have a lack of representation.” He continues, “It leaves me with the question, where are the mixed-ethnicity, same-sex couples? Where are the real moments of what their life looks like when they aren’t perfectly posed in front of the camera? Do they go for walks in a park? Do they have families? Where is the content that shows LGBTQ+ youth? There is so much opportunity and market demand for images and footage of authentic scenes that represent diverse people around the world.”

LGBTQ+ Stock Photos Need an Update: Here's What to Submit — Why LGBTQ+ Representation is Important
This article is a call to our artists—we want your LGBTQ+ imagery. Image by The Good Brigade.

So this article serves as a call to our artist community across Shutterstock, Offset, and Shutterstock Custom. Our customers need images, videos, and illustrations that better represent the LGBTQ+ community and their lived experiences. They want content that shows it all — the happy moments, the sad moments, and the regular boring moments of grocery shopping and laundry. By expanding our collection to include more LGBTQ+ lifestyle content, we can provide authentic imagery for customers around the world to use in their storytelling. 


LGBTQ+ Images, Videos, and Illustrations We Need

Often when we see LGBTQ+ images in our marketplace, they are overly sexualized or highly specific to LGBTQ+ visual cues, such as rainbow flags and decals. Our customers are looking for more accurate and authentic representations of this community. We need everyday moments captured beautifully with your camera.

Here are a few ideas to capture and share on Shutterstock:

  • Differently-Abled LGBTQ+: There is a lack in authentic imagery that depicts differently-abled members of the LGBTQ+ community. Create images that depict a variety of cognitive and physical abilities. 
  • LGBTQ+ at Home: These are the everyday moments at home that anyone can connect with. Working from the home office, cleaning the kitchen, cooking together, playing with the kids, and lounging in the living room.
  • Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming/Non-Binary Models: There is a lack of transgender and non-binary model-released images in stock. We would love to see more representation of this demographic in authentic, real-life moments. 
  • LGBTQ+ Youth and Seniors: The LGBTQ+ community needs better representation in all stages of their lives, including imagery featuring youth and seniors who identify within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • LGBTQ+ in rural communities: There’s a perception that queer people are city-centric, and so we see a lack of imagery that represents LGBTQ+ people in rural communities and small towns. This stigma erases the identities of queer communities in rural areas, so expand storytelling beyond metropolitan areas. 

For more tips on creating these images with an authentic representation of the LGBTQ+ community, check out this article.

LGBTQ+ Stock Photos Need an Update: Here's What to Submit — LGBTQ+ Images, Videos, and Illustrations We Need
Use this shot list for ideas on what LGBTQ images are needed in stock. Image by andreonegin.

LGBTQ+ Representation Behind the Lens

Here at Shutterstock, we don’t ask for personal information in your portfolio in order to submit images, video, or music content. We value your art and the incredible work that you create and share on our platform. However, we would love to better uncover the unique stories of LGBTQ+ creators who work with us. Knowing our community allows us to better market to their needs, and ensure that we are representative of the stories we share on our blog and social media channels.

If you’re an LGBTQ+ contributor interested in writing stories for us, being featured on social, or speaking with us about LGBTQ+ issues, please contact us here

LGBTQ+ Stock Photos Need an Update: Here's What to Submit — LGBTQ+Representation Behind the Lens
We need LGBTQ+ representation both in front and behind the lens. Image by Ariadna Bolet.

Becoming better allies to our LGBTQ+ Community

We are doing the work to become better allies to our LGBTQ+ community, both internally with our own team and through our incredible community of creatives around the globe. Prism is our employee resource group committed to creating a supportive, diverse, and inclusive company culture for LGBTQ+ people globally. We will uphold the same values within our organization as we do with the creatives we work with around the globe. Here are a few other actions to consider to become better allies and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Follow the lead of your LGBTQ+ peers and listen to them.
  • Ask educated questions and commit to doing the research to learn. 
  • Correct people if they misgender someone, even if that someone isn’t in the room.
  • Speak up when a person uses slurs or insensitive and racially-charged language.
  • Promote diversity and inclusion in the teams and people you work with.
  • Represent the LGBTQ+ community appropriately in the images you create and share.

Have we missed something on this list that you think should be included? Please email us here to get in touch and provide any feedback. 

LGBTQ+ Stock Photos Need an Update: Here's What to Submit — Becoming Better Allies to the LGBTQ+ Community
Together we can create and share better images that truly represent a global LGBTQ+ community. Image by Monkey Business Images.

This is not an exhaustive list of the work we need to do to be more representative of the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s a start. Let’s do the work, and together we’ll create a more representative perspective for the LGBTQ+ community globally through the images we create and share.


Cover image by Rushay.

Looking for more articles on diversity? Check these out: