Search “Latinas,” “Latinos,” “Latinx” and other related terms on different social media and photo platforms, and you’ll likely end up audibly groaning. For far too long, the media has depicted our communities through a narrow – and often, stereotypical – lens. But as our influence continues to grow and the need to visually represent us in the media increases, Getty Images is working to flip the existing narrative on its head to illustrate us in a multi-faceted, dynamic way.
Today, the photo service launched the Nosotros Project, a collection of 14,000 stock images of our communities that is free of tropes. “We really want this project to help Latinx individuals in the United States and the rest of North America to be able to reclaim their visual narrative within the media and advertising landscape,” says Tristen Norman, the manager of Creative Insights and Planning at Getty.
But before Norman and her team built the collection, they had to evaluate where, as she explains, Getty missed “the mark on our content.” This meant starting by looking at the content it offered on its site, a “full, deep dive and audit of every single image that we had in our library that had the Latinx tag.” Then, it interviewed Latinx, Latin American, and Hispanic people throughout North America – particularly in key demographics like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago – to gain a better sense of what gaps existed in its content. Based on the information it collected and the interviews it held, Getty could get a full picture of how to approach this ambitious project.
Through this work, Getty learned that in order to make the Nosotros Project an accurate reflection of our community, it needed to focus on community, seniors, sports, and millennial entrepreneurs/small businesses. The company later held informational sessions to introduce photographers to the concept and to encourage them to come up with their own ideas. This is how Bronx-based Evelyn Martinez became involved.
After learning about Getty’s project, Martinez came up with the idea for Una cena con mamá y abuela. Using a lot of natural light, Evelyn portrays an intimate and intergenerational family dinner. She was able to pick her models, so she teamed up with Mami Chula Social Club, an uptown NYC-based women’s club, to showcase Dominican and Puerto Rican women, Afro-Latinas, moms, grandmothers, and more sharing space, much like they do in real life.
“I know that it’s important for it to be in the Nosotros collection, because oftentimes we see a lot of representation of Latinx women that are light skinned, right, but I was like, I need to make sure that I also work with the women that aren’t represented,” the self-taught photographer says. “That’s why I think it’s important – and not only for myself to be involved with Getty, but other women – to be involved and to be able to have a different source of income, because that’s, at the end of the day, also what’s important for artists [and] creatives, to be paid for their work, so that [this] can be sustainable for them.”
Seven to eight months have passed since Getty began the Nosotros Project, and though it’s been a long journey, it’s also been rewarding for several people, including Norman, who is of Dominican descent and understands what it’s like to have your culture overlooked and misrepresented. She’ll continue to play a role in the project that isn’t anywhere near done.
“This is not a one-and-done,” she says. “This is not something that we’re just going to launch [and] then kind of forget about it. We are going to continue pushing this, we’re going to continue pushing on recruitment, we’re going to continue briefing out and making sure that we build this into the DNA of every sort of relevant [series]. So [we’re at] 14,000 [images], but 14,000 and counting right now.”