By: Ken Bryson

Evolving the language of photography

Stocksy is a global cooperative of artists, representing many cultures and multiple intersecting identities. With this diversity of perspectives and viewpoints, we strive to maintain inclusivity and diversity at the core of what we do and how we represent our work.  To that end, we have changed how we use the language of photography and cinematography.

‘Shoots’ is now ‘Series’

We will now use ‘Series’ when referring to a collection of work that is created within a set time period or with a common theme. Additionally, ‘Series’ is more relevant for artists working in media like illustrations, renders, collages, etc.

Words matter. Yet, many of the most common terms in our industry are rooted in violence and colonialism that can have harmful connotations. Stocksy strives to be progressive. We want to enhance the language we are using and evolve past ‘Shoots’ while working to decolonize our brand.

Thais Ramos Varela

Why are we making this update?

We’re not alone in making this change. Through talking to clients and keeping an eye on the industry, it is clear that ‘shoots’ is no longer the preferred term. 

Throughout the history of photography, there has been a clear linkage between ‘capturing’ images and the language of violence, whether linked to guns and militarism, or simply through othering the photographic ‘subject.’

Early advertising for cameras directly reference ‘camera hunting’ as an alternative to wildlife hunting. Photographic terminology used the language of guns to reflect the activity of ‘capturing’ images of animals as if hunting them in real life.

Throughout history, many common photographic terms are the same as those describing gun usage.


Destruction / Balance / Fall image
Jakub and Jedrzej Krzyszkowski

More recently, there has been a movement to decolonize photographic language. The organization Photographers without Borders called for a change in how we use language – away from terms that support “the continued inequality, exploitation and resource extraction that uphold colonial structures.

Diversify Photo has provided A Guide to Nonviolent Language for Lens-Based Work.

Below are industry terms and alternative nonviolent language options to use instead:

Cameraman [n.]
Use instead: Lens-based worker, photographer

Capture [v.]
Use instead: Make, create, collaborate, document, photograph, record, film, witness

Grab [v.] (e.g. grab a shot)
Use instead: Photograph, make a picture

Headshot [n.]
Use instead: Profile photo, portrait

Man hours [n.]
Use instead: Work hours

Man power [n.]
Use instead: Labor force, workforce, labor, work

Master flash [n.]
Use instead: Sender flash, leader flash, primary flash

Shoot [n.]
Use instead: A (photography) session, an assignment, a project, a photography job

Shoot [v.]
Use instead: See Capture

Slave flash [n.]
Use instead: Receiver flash, secondary flash, follow flash, replica flash, standby flash

Subject [n] (e.g. photo)
Use instead: Source, model, collaborator, sitter

– Source

Stocksy is eager to support this work and will continue to lead by example in support of our artists, models, and clients looking to create meaningful work.