Open University and Alamy partner on diversity photo project
January 20, 2022
The Open University (OU) has unveiled a set of four student portraits, in partnership with Alamy, that were shot by Press Association photographer Inzajeano Latif with the aim of representing a more authentic portrayal of distance learning for Black and South Asian students and kickstarting a ‘legacy collection’ of photographs that will achieve more diversity in stock images.
The OU’s partnership with Alamy will encourage photographers to submit images that reflect life from the perspective of Black and South Asian students in the UK. The submitted images will form an ever-growing ‘legacy collection’, which will be available via Alamy for other organisations to use in their marketing materials, as an ongoing commitment to diversity in stock images. This demographic is often underrepresented by stock image banks and the OU is also working with Alamy to create a new collection that can be used by anyone wanting to represent distance learners more authentically.
Melissa Thermidor, programme director at The Open University, explained, ‘The Open University prides itself on being open to people, places, methods and ideas and is passionate about widening access. We feel that the stock images available to portray Black and Asian students are not authentic or relatable and don’t reflect the reality of their lives or of distance learning, and we want to change that.’
The Alamy legacy collection is inspired by the portraits commissioned by The Open University, as shot by photographer Inzajeano Latif, that depict the stories of four students:
- Joe, from Essex: a pharmacy assistant that is studying to be a psychologist.
- Candace, from Cardiff: she works part-time in customer services and has an internship with a digital magazine and is studying Business Management and Marketing.
- Halima, from Birmingham: is studying a degree in International Studies and has set up a care agency.
- Ali, from Falkirk: has now finished his Open University degree and has secured a job as an organic geochemistry technician in a university.
Inzajeano Latif said, ‘I’m proud to have worked with The Open University by capturing the authentic distance learning experience in the UK. Representation in front of and behind the camera is important to me as I’ve dedicated my career to unearthing places and faces that are all too often invisible. This campaign showcases students from diverse backgrounds, in their own study spaces, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of flexible learning for all.’
The student Joe commented about his involvement in this initiative, ‘Hopefully people will look at me and relate and think if he can do it, I can do it. If they can see someone that’s like them it can change their life.’
Since 1969, the Open University has promoted educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality education to all those who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential. More than two million people have experienced this life-changing learning through their OU studies. The OU’s mission is, ‘to be open to people, places, methods and ideas and this means that a commitment to equality is embedded in all that we do. We celebrate diversity and the strengths that it brings, we challenge under-representation and differences in outcomes.’
Alamy is the world’s most diverse stock photo library with over 270 million creative and editorial stock photos, vectors, 360-degree images and videos from individual photographers, picture agencies and archives. Its global contributor base supplies upwards of 150,000 new images a day to the company’s online platform. Founded in 1999, Alamy was built on a vision to change the world of picture buying. In February 2020 Alamy was acquired by PA Media Group, the UK-based news and information business. See more on Alamy here.