Shutterstock and the American Society on Aging launch a creator grant

Elderly Black couple dancing in their kitchen

The grant aims to diversify representation of older people in stock imagery.

In the media, images of older people often include weathered hands, wheelchairs and mostly white subjects — if older people are even represented at all.

But this doesn’t match up with demographic trends. The number of people aged 60 and older will grow to 1.4 billion globally within 10 years, representing a wide range of personalities, experiences and identities.

According to Shutterstock, only 18% of global marketers have increased the amount of content they use featuring models over the age of 50. That’s a low number, but it’s because 59% think that featuring younger people more often accurately represents the world we live in.

And more than half (52%) of global marketers say it’s difficult to visually reflect their brand with an accurate representation of the older generation. 

In response, Shutterstock and the American Society on Aging (ASA) on Wednesday announced the Keep Age in Focus grant, a creator grant that aims to diversify Shutterstock’s stock image portfolio to be more age inclusive. 

“We are calling upon the creative industry to support us in ensuring visual storytelling shows the diversity of the aging process through genuine representation,” Meeckel Beecher, Shutterstock global head of DEI, told Campaign US. 

Artists and photographers are encouraged to apply. The first place grant award is $5,000, second place and third place will receive $2,500, totaling $10,000.

“We want to capture a whole person — the passion, the curiosity, and all the optimism that exists in aging,” Peter Kaldes, ASA’s chief executive officer, told Campaign US. “I know there are creative people out there that can really capture and do us all justice in showcasing how we age.”

Shutterstock and the ASA are hopeful that the grant will help combat ageism, a discrimination that Kaldes says is often overlooked. 

“We have internalized ageism,” said Kaldes. “We just don't care about older adults. We don't care about our future selves. Ageism is sort of the last prejudice that we seem to be okay with. Somehow, when you turn 60 or 70, it's okay to be marginalized. It becomes okay to be ignored. It becomes okay to be classified that you look a certain way.”

The ASA, which champions improving the quality of life for older adults and their families, wanted to partner with Shutterstock because of the creative platform's reach.

Kaldes is looking forward to seeing these new images across news stories in the media and for marketers to use the stock imagery to promote their products.

Shutterstock is also “very intentional” that the images it offers are diverse and accurately reflect society, Kaldes added. 

Earlier this year, Shutterstock partnered with the It Gets Better Project, a LGBTQ+ nonprofit, to offer a $12,500 grant highlighting LGBTQ+ imagery. The grant was part of Shutterstock’s The Create Fund, a $300,000 artist grant to further diversify its content library.

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