For a lot of my posts I use, and I’m sure to credit, stock photography from Unsplash. On my Instagram account, where I post this blog and more, a photo is an obvious necessity, but I started daily blogging here on WordPress where I only need to write. Choosing a featured image added another dimension for me though, even if most readers never see it.
I look for an image that is relevant to the post, naturally. More than that I think about the meaning in the image alone – does it convey something more than the post or something different, perhaps subtly? Am I showing people in a natural way, avoiding the most obvious clichés (no doubt I’m guilty of some)? Is there a mix of ages, skin colour, body shapes in my feed? Does the image resonate with the tone of the post – I’m not relentlessly upbeat (#toxicpositivity is a real thing), but neither am I always earnest. So choosing an image is a bit of extra thinking for me, which I welcome.
A little while ago I saw an Instagram story, I think by Kim K Gray, that touched on sharing photos of children on social media. Not graphic imagery, just images of children. The issue raised, or at least the one that has been niggling at me, was that of informed consent. Through Unsplash there is no way for me to know how the children felt about having their photo taken and that they understood what it meant. I’ve no way of knowing how those children will feel about it as they get older.
This is a much broader conversation than ‘should I use these photos of kids from Unsplash’, but this is where the conversation intersects my life and choices most clearly. I’ve decided to change the images on WordPress and to remove those posts on Instagram.
When we believe we’ve made a mistake, it’s important to try and correct it.
To acknowledge it, and to do better.