Getty Images and Verizon Partner to Close Representation Gap of Disability Voices and Stories in Media and Advertising

Five photographers awarded a total of US $40,000 to support and encourage authentic representation of disability communities in the media. 

Getty Images, a preeminent global visual content creator and marketplace, together with Verizon, have today announced the recipients of a US $40,000 creative grant focused on sharing the voices, experiences and stories of disability communities.

Getty Images’ VisualGPS global research shows that despite around 20% of people globally living with some form of visible or invisible disability, only 1% of visuals in media and advertising include a person living with a disability, with wheelchairs overwhelmingly being the primary indicator of someone having a disability.

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Despite the ongoing gap in representation, a look at search data from Getty Images’ most popular visuals shows that there is an increasing interest in visuals (+5%) of people with disabilities in work and community settings, with searches related to disability growing above other trends.

“The traditional standard for visualizing people with disabilities in media and advertising is in need of a refresh to authentically reflect the diversity of relationships within the broader community,” said Dr. Rebecca Swift, Creative Grant Judge and Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images. “We are pleased to support creators working to capture the real experiences of real communities.”

This year’s program awarded one first-place recipient US $15,000, one second-place recipient US $10,000 and three third-place recipients US $5,000 each.

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The recipients of the grant are:

First-Place (US $15,000)

  • Megan E. Doherty (US) is a photographer and writer focused on reporting stories about chronic illness, medical research, and disability. Her multi-year documentary project Back of the Yards won the 2016 Project Development Grant from CENTER, an arts organization that supports socially and environmentally engaged photographic projects.

Second-Place (US $10,000)

  • Mia Boccella (US) is a filmmaker, photographer, certified life coach and equestrian. Her work creates opportunities for people to connect more deeply with the powerful Interconnections that we all have with one another, animals and the natural world. Mia is legally blind and is constantly aware of changes in light, contrast and color that challenge her ability to see. Through the camera and processing she can make images that allow her to more clearly define her world.

Third-Place (US $5,000 each)

  • Tuija Marander (Finland) is a photographer with a special interest in fashion photography, along with the rights and visibility of disabled people. In the future, she is looking to somehow combine these two subjects in her work.
  • Christian Tasso (US) is a photographer living and working between Italy and New York. His work focuses on themes across community, traditions and rituals, and the interaction between humanity and nature. His inspiration comes from his everyday interaction with remarkable people from different backgrounds.
  • Anna Spindelndreier (Germany) is a freelance photographer and photo editor. The goal of her work is to fight for more authentic, lifelike photos of people with disabilities and show the diversity of disability.

Recipients were selected by an esteemed panel of judges, including:

  • Shani Dhanda – Inclusion Specialist; Social Entrepreneur
  • Andraéa LaVant – President and Chief Inclusion Officer, LaVant Consulting Inc.
  • Nolan Ryan Trowe – Professor & Multimedia Artist; winner of the 2019 Disability Stories Creative Grant
  • Lawrence Carter-Long – Media Professional and Disability Advocate
  • Dr. Rebecca Swift – Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images

This initiative is part of Getty Images’ wider grants program, furthering our commitment to the craft of photography and bringing attention to important stories that without funding, may otherwise remain unseen. Since its inception in 2004, the company has donated over US $2.4 million to photographers and videographers around the world.

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