If you’re a frequent internet user — especially someone involved in blogging — chances are, you’ve searched through Google Images on the hunt for stock images. If you are a person of color; however, that search may be a bit more daunting than you’d like… if you want to find images of people with a bit more melanin, that is. In a world painted with more color than not, it only makes sense that the internet’s stock image vault would accurately represent the world. And yet…

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The widespread availability of stock photos featuring people of color has been long overdue. Many people are wondering… where are the POC versions of platforms like Shuttershock? Well, we’re happy to introduce you all to TONL!

TONL is, in its own words, “turning stock photography into culturally radiant stories.” In a recent interview with NPR, TONL co-founders Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi sat down to chat about their mission to create a database filled with more diverse stock photos.

Left to right: Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi

Okonkwo and Kissi spoke about the fact that not only is it difficult to find simple images of a person of color going about their everyday life (i.e. riding a bike), but they found it nearly impossible to find high-quality images.

“I think I’m looking for just different types of people, just people I haven’t seen in media or visual media in general. I’m just looking for people’s stories,” said Kissi. “And when I’m on a train in New York City, and I see – I’m on the F train, for example – and even going from Queens to Manhattan, there’s just a plethora of this diversity and beautiful people from Eastern European people to Southeast Asian to African-Americans to Africans to Hispanics. And I just see everybody’s stories coming to life on this train. And I’m like, hey, this is what TONL should look like and feel like.”

Oh, and if you think the TONL doesn’t feature all colors of the rainbow, you’re wrong! Kissi assured that while the platform will primarily feature people of color, there will be images included with people “of European descent.”

“It just goes back to how we definitely want to make sure that this is not a segregated business because it’s not. It’s about unification. So you’ll see on the website how we do a really great job of showing colorism – but definitely not in a separated way – in a very unified way,” Okonkwo assured.

TONL officially launches August 21, 2017! Head to their website if you have further questions and want to learn more! Follow them on Instagram, too!

What do you think about this new stock image database aimed toward people of color? Will you be using TONL for your internet content needs? Let’s chat about it!
Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director living in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. She is the co-host of the movie review podcast, Cinema Bun Podcast. She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice… with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre. You can follow her on Twitter @EmbraceTheJ, on Facebook FB.com/tstidhum, and Instagram @embracethej. You can find more of her work on her About Me page, https://about.me/tonjareneestidhum.