UW Brand

Developing an Equity Lens for Visual Communications

Thinking about the visual imagery we use to communicate our ideas and stories is about more than just who we are representing. It goes way beyond “looking diverse” and delves into the people who own the stories you are telling. A good place to start is asking yourself these questions based on the Six Lenses of Equity*:six lenses of equity: recognition, participation, access, effects, transformation, distribution of resources

  • Are we recognizing diversity in our images and stories?
  • Who is able to participate in the process from inception to debrief (internal review)?
  • Who has access to our process (subject reviews)?
  • What effects will this story have on a subject or community if a mistake is made?
  • Is our organization changing to include equity internally? Is our organization working on racial equity?
  • How is our practice affecting marginalized communities? (Do we hire diverse freelancers
    and/or work with underrepresented vendors?)


In addition to the six lens of equity, there are specific considerations in photography and image making**:

  • How do you approach people to set up a photo/video shoot? Was everyone given clear
    communication for how to prepare? Is there appropriate hair, make-up, clothing resources? Are there cultural considerations/requests?
  • Who is the active agent in your photos? Who is depicted in positions of authority and leadership? Is the portrayal accurate? Does it tell the whole story?
  • Who is being placed in the foreground versus the background? At the center versus to the side? What message does that send?
  • When taking photos or lighting videos, have you considered lighting and make-up for subjects across the spectrum of skin tones.

*Six lenses of equity. The multidimensional equity framework enables staff to understand, discuss, and implement inclusion policies and practices. Copyright 2014 by Amelia M. Kraehe.

**From Shared Voices: Mennonite Mission Network guidelines for anti-racism and anti-sexism communication.