The most frustrating part of my publishing journey so far is finding romantic stock photos that feature Black Americans for my covers. The pool is shallow! Conversely, there are many pictures available for White couples-ranging from erotic to sweet.
For Black couples, the high-quality pictures are far and in-between. I’m tempted to contract a photographer and start a service for independent Black romance authors.I do not know how else we will be served.
So, why is this so frustrating you ask? Below are the top three problems with the stock photo industry in my humble opinion. I wonder if I scream loud enough will they hear me!
The Search Function: It is pointless to search for Black couples on major stock websites. If you input “sexy Black couples” you get twice as many White couples with black dresses, black backgrounds, or even a photographer with the last name Black! Try African-American, your chances may be a little better. I’ve had the most luck with “African Love” and here’s the kicker....none of the true black couple photos from my previous searches will show up here. It takes HOURS to get something usable.
The Male Models: The trend for Contemporary Romance novels is to have a ripped sexy half-dressed man (rock-hard abs, low-slung pants showing the hint of that sexy V, and pecks for days!) with a beautiful face as your cover. Just slap old boy up there with a sexy font and the women drool. WELP! Good luck finding a Black man like that in stock photo searches. If you find one; he’s in the gym or on the basketball court. Apparently, Black men do not get the privilege of being sexy for sexy’s sake. What gives?
The Hug & Kiss: Trying to find a Black couple kissing or hugging is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack; it is impossible! Apparently the companies do not think Black people love enough to have these pictures available.
I have managed to find a few Facebook Groups that specialize in covers featuring Black people. If you are interested check out The PoC Cover Market and Photographer Lindee Robinson's Group The former often produces photo shoots of Black couples; you can then claim pictures form the photo shoots! If you have any other resources to share, drop the links below!