'Harried Mom' Becomes Dynamic Woman In These Stock Images Getty's new "Lean In" collection steers clear of familiar stereotypes, such as women in stilettos stepping on men. Because women are the primary users of social media, the company's visual trends director says, it's time for a different kind of representation in media and advertising.
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'Harried Mom' Becomes Dynamic Woman In These Stock Images

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'Harried Mom' Becomes Dynamic Woman In These Stock Images

'Harried Mom' Becomes Dynamic Woman In These Stock Images

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/276574225/276782585" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. One way for magazines, brochures and websites to illustrate a story or a message is with stock photos - those generic images of just about anything you can think of. And those stock photos come mostly from a company called Getty Images.

PAMELA GROSSMAN: It's a really unique kind of image because we don't necessarily know how it's going to be used. So one has to be very predictive about how the image is going to look, and what the concept is behind it.

MONTAGNE: That's Pamela Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images. This week, the company announced it's teaming up with LeanIn.org, the nonprofit foundation created by Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, to update the look of its photos of women. The new collection will contain 2,500 images of modern women. Grossman says the new images update an otherwise stereotypical repository.

GROSSMAN: I think there has been a lot of women in power suits with boxing gloves or women in stiletto heels, stepping on men. And that's definitely the kind of work that we are aggressively shifting away from.

MONTAGNE: Well, there is one that has been made endless fun of, of a woman sitting at her - sitting at her laptop in a suit, perfect hair, with a cellphone to her ear, and she's got a fork - eating salad.

GROSSMAN: Absolutely - we all kind of giggle ourselves about the woman laughing alone, eating salad. I certainly eat my salad, but I have rarely laughed when doing so.

MONTAGNE: And it's a little hard to eat and talk. But so that image, which has now has a total life on the Web and all kinds of parodies of it, that image is gone. Is that what you're saying? And there's a new image replacing it. What would that be?

GROSSMAN: I think a new image of a woman multitasking would be somebody who maybe has her arms filled with - certainly a tablet or some kind of creative plans, and then she's also engaged in a conversation. You know, certainly she still looks busy, but it's a little bit more subtle of a visual read.

MONTAGNE: Give us just another example of the new line of stock photos.

GROSSMAN: So in the LeanIn collection on GettyImages.com, you'll find really powerful athletes; women involved in robotics; mothers who actually look really modern and contemporary, as opposed to a much more stagnant, cliched image of motherhood.

MONTAGNE: How do you mean modern rather than stagnant?

GROSSMAN: I think the older model would be either that the mother looked incredibly harried. And she would be juggling a dinner plate in one hand and a baby in the other. Sometimes even more arms would be Photoshopped onto her, to show just how, indeed, she was juggling it all.

MONTAGNE: And a briefcase, just to remind you she was working.

GROSSMAN: That's exactly right. Where the images of motherhood that we were careful to choose for the LeanIn collection, the mothers just feel incredibly dynamic. They seem interesting; they seem like they have more going on in their lives. They really feel like they have contemporary style, and they're engaged and energetic.

MONTAGNE: Why is this initiative coming now?

GROSSMAN: One of the interesting things that we know is that it's primarily women who are the users of social media. And that means that it's women who are creating these images of themselves and their actual lives, and who are demanding to have these images reflected now in advertising and in media.

MONTAGNE: Well, when you say women are demanding, what does that exactly mean?

GROSSMAN: Virtually every conversation I've been having, at least for the last three years, has been our client asking for these much more authentic images that don't feel posed or staged or contrived in any way, but that actually feel much more relatable and much more authentic.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

GROSSMAN: Thank you so much, Renee. Happy to be here.

MONTAGNE: Pamela Grossman is director of visual trends at Getty Images.

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