Most companies and organizations have discovered the benefits of communicating norm-creatively. When more people feel recognized and acknowledged, it can lead to new target groups for your communication – and new prospective customers.
So what you should be thinking when choosing images? Tomas Gunnarsson, photographer and gender issues expert, shares his best tips more effectively choosing norm-creative images. He also highlights some of his favorites from Johnér's extensive image bank.
About Tomas Gunnarsson
In 2016, Tomas Gunnarsson, also knows in Sweden as Genusfotografen (Gender Photographer), published the image manual Bilder som förändrar världen ("Images that change the world") with Gävle Municipality. The manual is now to be released internationally and was translated to English by Svenska institutet.
Choosing norm-creative images
– five tips!
Turn your thinking around!
One good way to avoid gender stereotypical images is to ask yourself, "What would this image have looked like if a woman posed the way the man is posing, or vice versa? Would the image be strange or comical? If so, there is a pretty good chance that the image is gender stereotypical.
What would be the unexpected alternative?
When you need an image of a manager or engineer, why not have it portray a young woman of non-Nordic descent? If we go by our gut, we often choose images that reconfirm our preconceived notions of what a "manager" looks like. Always try to think past the first image that pops up in your head.
Use a sounding board
It's easy to focus on breaking a norm, only to reinforce another. Focusing on gender and forgetting diversity, for example. Everyone sees something different in an image so it is valuable to let it pass many different people before you publish it.
Look for the most difficult image first If you think it's going to be difficult to find a particular image, such as one of elderly HBTQ people, prioritize it and look for it first. You then reduce the risk of
having to defend your lack of including certain types of people with a "We didn't have time".
Break more than one norm at a time!
The manager could be a woman in a wheelchair. The family could consist of two mothers, one of whom is of foreign descent. People are multifaceted enough to break more than one norm at a time. It may even have the effect of an unplanned break from the norm leaving you wondering: "Hold on, did I really intend for this to be a norm breaker? Or is it just normative of me to think this?"
Tomas shows his favorites from Johnér
A common mistake is to include people only in the context of their "group". For example, that people with disabilities are only portrayed in the context of accessibility or discrimination. The solution is to "include without further ado". To let anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation, represent any topic or headline. Like an example of a common person with their own interests, daily routines and social
"Johnér has a wealth of such images," says Tomas. Images of people not often portrayed in mainstream media but who are depicted in a warm light – normalizing very naturally.
An image that challenges the notion of what a mechanic should look like, both in terms of gender and ethnicity. And a gender bonus for a confident pose!
A father painting his son's nails. An everyday image that doesn't feel forced and is a nice symbol for how we can avoid transferring our notions and gender shackles on to our children.
Commonplace images (also see image at top) of an elderly homosexual couple harvesting vegetables at their summer place. Portraits of HBTQ people are often of young couples in urban environments or of Pride.
A lovely image of a child with a disability but where the disability is not in focus, but rather the exciting book!
An image that breaks many gender stereotypes: a female fireman, who does not need to let her hair loose and smile into the camera, but instead bears all the necessary equipment, is active, concentrated and competent.
Photographers: Maskot, Amelie Sjöstrand Gereholt, Therese Winberg, Maskot, Lisa Wikstrand, Maskot, Victoria Henriksson och Sara Winsnes.