Good stock photography should be universally recognizable—but that hasn’t always been the case when it comes to accurately depicting modern society.
Over the past few years, Getty Images has embarked on several projects to better reflect what the world looks like. In 2015, Getty launched a collection of stock photography that gave masculinity a modern makeover. In 2018, the brand worked with the Disability Alliance on a series of images. This year, Getty awarded $20,000 to photographers creating better representation for the LGBTQ community and, in a partnership with Dove and GirlGaze, launched Project #ShowUs, a series of images that shows a much more comprehensive range of diverse women.
Today, Getty Images is tackling another stereotype by launching a series of more than 1,400 images that more accurately portray how people age today. The Disrupt Aging Collection brings an authentic focus to the changing lifestyles of those age 50 and older.
“It’s definitely time for the creative industries to update their mindset about the 50-plus demographic,” said Martha Boudreau, AARP executive vice president and chief communications and marketing officer. “This age group drives our economy and makes new demands on product development and marketing in virtually every industry sector. Our collaboration with Getty is an important step to helping brands more accurately reflect this vast demographic of 110 million Americans.”
What’s interesting about the collection is that this is the first time Generation X is in the same brand cohort as their parents with AARP, which counts 38 million people as members.
“We were intrigued by the work they had done with Lean In,” said Barbara Shipley, senior vice president of brand integration at AARP, referring to the #ShowUs project.
“The truth is that people over 50 are living very vibrant lives. They’re working and starting businesses. Actually, most of the entrepreneurs in this country are over 50,” Shipley said. A study of over 2,600 entrepreneurs and small business owners by Guidant Financial shows that 54% of business owners in the United States are over 50.
Replacing the imagery ranging from languid days on the golf course to frailty is essential to AARP in that it allows people, especially younger generations, to see the realities of aging.
“[People 50 and older] are living very multigenerational lives,” Shipley said. “It’s not about dangling your toes in the pool and wearing beige. And those are the images that you see today.”
Aside from breaking societal perceptions, the business story is evident as well. According to Shipley, based on spending power, the 50-plus set represents “essentially the third-largest economy in the world.”
Indeed, with better, more accurate representation, Shipley believes that media and marketers now have a better chance to tell a much more authentic story about aging.
“[This is] the first tangible tool that we’re introducing so that we can get everybody from creatives to clients to think about the micro-actions they can take to change the way the creative industry is portraying older Americans.”