One Stock Photo Service Wants To Revolutionize The Way People Of Color Are Represented

“This was a passion project for us, wanting to see change.”

For Jacques Bastien and his team, finding stock photos featuring people of color has never been easy.

"It was difficult to find someone that actually looked like us," he said to A Plus. "We had to scroll down pages until we finally found someone who at least looked close enough to us."

The search for these images at Bastien's influencer management agency SHADE was the catalyst behind the launch of Nappy, a stock photo service that provides images of people of color for free. The service made its online debut earlier in September.

"It's 100 percent powered by the people around the world who are seeking a platform, submitting their photos, and making it available for others," Bastien said.



Although the term "nappy" is often associated with being another word for diaper, it also has a derogatory term in other communities. For many people of color, it's used to imply someone with tightly coiled hair looks unattractive, something Bastien said he heard a lot growing up. 

But when it came to coming up with a name after the service's original title, Urban Lens, didn't pan out, Nappy seemed like the perfect replacement to represent and embrace people of color in all of their natural glory.

"The word 'nappy' has always been a negative term within our community," Bastien said, "and what we wanted to do was take that word that people normally define identify as something negative and [redefine] that word right next to what we're trying to do here."

Photo Credit: Created by Jarrod
Photo Credit: Created by Jarrod

Right now, the platform only features Black and Hispanic faces, but as Nappy continues to grow, Bastien said it plans to feature Asian people as well. Looking ahead, Nappy will also work on organizing its own photo shoots to accommodate needs for photos of people who are angry, sad, or in different social situations.

With that in mind, he also said he feels as though this experience has taught him to look beyond the lens of just being a man in order to provide more inclusive content.

"I'm seeing how easy it was for me to exclude certain people without even realizing it," Bastien said. "But obviously the solution in these cases and being able to admit those kinds of things is being open to learning from them."

Photo Credit: Shaquille Dunbar
Photo Credit: Shaquille Dunbar

As of right now though, Bastien added that people have reached out and are a bit skeptical about Nappy being free, but he and his team are constantly reassuring them that there's no catch with the service.

"There's no gated email thing, there's no personal agenda," he said. "For us, it's our gift to the culture, it's our gift to the industry."

Overall, however, general feedback about Nappy has been positive, with the exception of a few comments from people who believe the service is being racist for only including people of color.

But these comments don't faze Bastien. He sees it as an opportunity to start a conversation.

"I think it's only going to lead to education," he said. "And possibly those with negative comments, them having an open mind realizing why something like this is needed. So we definitely welcome those."

Either way, Nappy continues to keep one goal in mind: being the go-to place for stock photos of people of color.

"This was a passion project for us, wanting to see change," Bastien said.

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