Putting more diversity in stock photography

How do images in advertising – or the lack of them – influence our perceptions of diversity? In this revelatory talk, Karen Okonkwo shows us the hidden power of stock photography to shape culture. She explains why seeing people who look like us is critically important to engendering inclusivity and greater empathy in our world.

Karen is a first-generation Nigerian-American who was an avid blogger in college. She struggled to find stock photos that represented the diversity she saw in everyday life. In 2016, she co-founded TONL, a stock photography company, to provide access to beautiful, real-world images of individuals of diverse ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, body types, sexual orientations, genders, and ages. The company complements some of the images with personal narratives of the subjects. Their goal is to create a deeper understanding of the cultural context for people choosing pictures.

Karen has founded various companies and continues to support and encourage inclusive diversity through her businesses and volunteer efforts. She’s passionate about being a voice for the voiceless.

Karen Okonkwo is a Nigerian-American social entrepreneur based in Seattle. She became an avid blogger in 2013 while in college. However, she struggled to find photos that represented the existing diversity she saw in real life around her. Her experience and concern with the disparity of image diversity in the online world impassioned her to provide what the web has been missing. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Karen Okonkwo

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In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxSeattle, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxSeattle event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.