Now that we’re nearing the halfway point of 2016, it’s a good time to take a look at what has been popular on stock photography sites so far, what will be trending in the coming months, and the changes we might anticipate in stock photography for next year.
Authentic is the Name of the Game
Unsurprisingly, stock photography consumers are still much more drawn to authentic photos than those that look like they come from a stock photography site. Images that have a laid-back, candid, or artsy vibe about them have been popular for years, and 2016 will see that trend continuing. But what’s coming in the remaining months of 2016 is a shift towards the use of non-professional equipment (i.e. smartphones) and non-professional models to achieve the level of authenticity that consumers want. Images taken by amateur photographers with their iPhones will become more prevalent, and look for that to be a hot trend for 2017.
Stock photography has long lived by the mantra that there needs to be negative space in which the end-user of the image can insert copy, if need be. This year, that trend is still in demand, but with a twist. Many consumers aren’t just looking for negative space anymore; they are looking for images that have minimalistic compositions. Perhaps this desire for minimalism is a reaction to the chaotic world in which we live. Maybe it’s desired so as not to interfere with whatever message will be added to the image by the end-user. Whatever the case, minimalist images have been hot thus far in 2016, and it appears that will continue to be the case into next year.
As quickly as technology changes and advances, it makes sense that tech trends are a hot topic in the world of stock photography. People interacting with technology has long been a commodity for stock photographers, but this year, expect to see more demand for images of people using cutting-edge products like virtual reality, drones, and wearable tech, to name but a few.
Part of what’s driving this emphasis on images related to technology is the rise of Generation Z - consumers that are in their teens. Since Generation Z is the first to be raised in the high-tech modern world, they are incredibly tech savvy and lead lives that are driven by the latest technologies. As a result, consumers of stock photography will be looking for high-tech images that speak to this generation in an authentic manner. As we roll towards 2017, expect Generation Z to have even more influence regarding what’s trending in photography.
Highly Specialized Images
Read any advice article on how to make a dime as a stock photographer, and you’ll surely come across the tip to create images with widespread appeal. You’ll also likely encounter the advice to “find a niche.” It seems that in 2016, stock photographers are taking the niche idea and running with it. More popular than ever are highly specialized images that are reflective of trends in the larger society. Aerial views are among the most popular niche images, particularly those taken via drone. Point of view images are popular as well, which is reflective of today’s love affair with documenting one’s life exploits with a body-mounted camera like a GoPro.
Also gaining popularity are double exposure images. Double exposures have been gaining traction in the design community but have now been seen in greater numbers on stock photography sites. Other old school techniques like lens flare and old school subjects like still lifes are making a comeback as well.
Images that portray the grandeur of the earth are as hot as ever in 2016. Whether that’s landscapes from near and far, portraits of people from around the world, or images that convey unique cultural and ethnic qualities, worldliness is a good bet to remain a hot topic when it comes to stock photography. In fact, as the world continues to get smaller and technology allows us to more easily cross borders, look for images of this sort to only increase in popularity even more in the coming years.
What we know for sure is that stock photography remains a strong industry. Although some of 2016’s trends are likely to flame out at some point, others will come along and fuel a new wave of interest in pursuing stock photography as a legitimate means for photographers of all skill levels to make some money.