You must have heard the saying; “a picture speaks a thousand more words”, yes? You probably have. But if you haven’t, think about it for a moment and you too will agree. Why does it seem so possible for you to deduce what a billboard poster is about even when you’re far off, without seeing the text? Well, that’s because the picture did the talking.

Creatives also agree with the saying hence, they try to accompany their works with a picture that communicates the information aimed at specific audiences when viewed at a glance. It becomes a plus when there is a corresponding write-up to complement the photo. Now, imagine how improper and absurd it would be when a write-up doesn’t go with the right photo choice, especially during an advert.

What I am trying to say is this; it is of utmost importance that a photo being used for creative work is in alignment with the message, tone, and mood the project aims to convey to its targeted audience.

Sadly, it is in this stage of finding the right stock photo(s) that most creatives, especially those who have an African audience, get stuck. 

In today’s blog post, we take a look at an interview to discuss the challenges of finding African Stock photos held between one of our correspondents at Afripik, and various graphic designers who shared challenges they encountered trying to find the right African Stock photo for the various graphic design projects they were involved with in their previous designing endeavours.

7 seasoned graphic designers share their experience in trying to get African stock photos

Disclaimer: All data represented in the article were gotten from seasoned graphic designers based in Nigeria during an online interview session.

How often have you needed African stock photos as a graphic designer?

“Often. Most of the work I have done is intended for an African audience.”

Was it easy getting these African stock photos?

“Easy? No. if anything, it was frustrating” Bright Ndukwe

“Trying to get African stock photos is an adventure which when ventured on you will come back disappointed” – Nelson Okereke

“It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.” – Lukman Paul

Hmm… Searching for a needle in a haystack. That doesn’t sound like fun.

What exactly are the challenges that make getting African stock photos this difficult?

“Unless you add the ‘black’ prefix/suffix to the search term, all you will find are ‘white’ pictures. And when you do add ‘dark’ to the search term you would most times find Black American photos.” – Ndukwe Bright

“Let me use an example: one time I needed to make a design for a corporate firm in Nigeria. I sort to use black people in corporate attire. When I searched for that, I got black women wearing Ankara fashions instead. Now, the issue isn’t that there are no African stock photos but most times you don’t get exactly what you want”. – Nelson Okereke

“African Stock Photos are scarce and those available are overused” – Pascal Umeh 

“What I see when searching for African Stock photos are mostly inferior creations”  – Kingsley Mbgecheta

“Available African stock photos are usually highly paid images” – Jasper Ekeh

Why do you think all these challenges exist? 

“I would say it is because the popular websites where creative get stock photos are owned by foreigners or there are not enough black photographers uploading their work.” – Ayobami Isreal

“Well, I think Africans don’t upload pictures as ‘whites’ do. We can and should create our own space where African photographers can upload their works– Ndukwe Bright

What then do you do when you don’t get the African photo you are looking for?

“I dey give up most times, switch to pictures I take by myself” Ndukwe Bright

“Sadly, I settle for black American photos. But that doesn’t click because an African face is its own market.” – Kingsley Mgbecheta

“I resort to photo manipulation” – Jasper Ekeh

Photo manipulation? How is that done?

“It’s a long long process” – Jasper Ekeh

Would it do your business good if there was a shorter process? A place where there is accessibility to a lot of categories where you could easily pick what you want?

“Of course, it would” – Jasper Ekeh

“It would make African based work easier and promote African art and designs” – Kingsley Mgbecheta


The challenges most graphic designers face in finding African stock photos are
  • African stock photos are mostly limited, and if found, expensive.
  • Creatives are forced to settle for less, or resort to photo manipulation which extends the time of product delivery.
  • Most popular stock websites are owned by foreigners. Africans need to create their own space. 

Do you agree with these? Let us know your experience or opinion on the availability of African stock photos in the comment section. 


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