TONL is a new service founded to diversify the narrative of stock photography

TONL is a new stock photography service founded by entrepreneur Karen Okonkwo and photographer Joshua Kissi.

The company was created with the aim to diversify the ‘whiteness’ of stock photography by displaying images of diverse people around the world.

Launched in August, the website has already attracted big brands who want to use their service, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Co-founders Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi

Co-founder Karen told Amateur Photographer: “The inspiration came when I reflected on how difficult it was for me to implement diverse imagery for a blog business that I had with my sorority sisters.”

“Representation matters when you’re trying to convey a message using imagery,” she added. “Right now, as stock photography is, that story is a white narrative. This is debilitating when it comes to growth and acceptance of other ethnic backgrounds.”

Credit: TONL

The company is based in Seattle and New York but takes images across the world and categorises them in collections like tradition, travel and trend.

TONL also features stories behind some of their models, as well as their picture services on their website.

Users can either choose to buy images individually or they can leverage subscription services available for those who require more images and want a bundle deal.

Credit: TONL

Stock photography may seem an odd way to be trying to combat issues of diversity in media and the world around us. So, why did the team choose to overcome challenges to diversity through this medium?

Karen said: “Imagery is one of the most powerful forms of communication outside of verbal speech. We need to normalise diversity.

“Many ethnic backgrounds are seen as a threat to society. We are here to show that these groups are everyday people.”


For more information and to check out their complete photo library, visit the TONL website.