Tampa Bay startup puts focus on diverse stock images

Every day advertisers bombard consumers with thousands of images, trying to sell something or send a message. However, those images aren’t always inclusive, and a Tampa startup is focusing on changing that.

"I founded Black Stock Footage with the idea to solve the issue of the lack of Black representation and visibility within the stock media platform,” said Imani Lee, founder and CEO of Black Stock Footage.

He says last year's social unrest highlighted disparities in all areas of life and helped drive his mission.

"Because I am a professional videographer, I understand the power of storytelling,” he said. “And if you're a good storyteller...you can influence people.”

The goal is to break down stereotypes by supplying companies with diverse images depicting everyday life. It sounds simple, but experts say the mission is important.

"Representation matters, because it's a conveyance of belonging,” Dr. Jason P. Chambers, associate professor of advertising at the University of Illinois.

Chambers says for years, companies intentionally excluded African Americans from the advertising landscape.

"It says that you're not important. Your ideas, your concept, your culture, your look, your style, your tastes - none of that is important to us."

Something Lee wants to change--and people are taking notice.

Shark Tank host Daymond John recently announced told Lee his company won a $25,000 NAACP Powershift Grant to will help him carry out his mission of a more inclusive world--one image at a time.

Lee and his fiancée say the grant will go toward business expenses. They are working on completing their library of images and they hope to have a full launch of the company within the first half of 2022.

View the full article at: https://www.wtsp.com/article/money/business/tampa-bay-diverse-stock-images/67-568f7962-b5d5-4870-acac-d856aa81eb84