Giorgia Aiello

Generic differences: the visual communication of lesbian subjectivities in the global image bank Getty Images

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: lesbian; stock photography; Getty Images; visual communication; genericity.

This article offers a critical analysis of stock photographs aimed at generically representing lesbians for a variety of communicative contexts. In particular, the article examines issues such as embodiment, sexualization and discursive constructions of individual and relational identities. This research combines a qualitative content analysis of 1500 stock photos from the global corporate image bank Getty Images with in-depth interviews with some of the photographers directly involved in the production of images associated with the tag «lesbian». What emerges from this concurrent evaluation of key semiotic and social dimensions of stock photography is a complex approach to the visual communication of «generic» lesbian subjectivities. On one hand, there is an increasing visibility of non-standardized forms of lesbian embodiment and sexualization. On the other hand, as a visual concept «lesbian» is most often communicated in a homonormative manner, by means of association with conservative relational modes (e.g. the married couple) and neoliberal lifestyles.

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