What are the stock photography trends for 2021? Good question. Stock photography is getting bigger and bigger every year.
There is a growing community of photographers sharing their images for free. Staying up with stock photography trends is more important than ever.
[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
Photographers often gain clients through free stock sites like Unsplash. And that’s because their pages get millions of views per year.
Now let’s look at the stock photography trends for 2020.
20. Modern Aging
There is an older generation today who was born in a very different world. They grew up in an era without digital technology and with a strict life structure.
Now they adapt to the new trends and find a way to make themselves home in our modern world.
Older people are staying active longer than before. They are present at the workplaces, doing sports and learning how technology functions.
They are a big part of society and have large spending power. Brands and companies want to have images that show ageing people. And make themselves more relatable across generations.
19. DIY Projects
DIY projects keep people sane in the year of the big pandemic. Baking and cooking at home, DIY design and photographer tools are trending in 2020.
Businesses who were not able to operate during lockdown now share how to recreate their products at home.
One of the best examples is the dalgona coffee trend of this year. You only need three ingredients to make this simple yet good-looking coffee. The trend started on Tik Tok and spread across every possible platform. Including the stock photo websites.
But the same is true for baking your own bread, fixing your bookshelf or growing herbs on your balcony.
18. Awareness for Mental Health
Caring for our mental health is still not as important as it should be. But the year 2020 brought more awareness and a new interest in the topic.
In a year like this one, we need mental stability and a peaceful mind more than ever. People want to find a way to switch off and deal with stress and uncertainty.
More and more platforms are discussing or promoting awareness of mental health. Stock photos are no exceptions.
17. Time Spent in Nature
Love for nature has been among the top stock photography trends for years. But 2020 made us appreciate the time spent outdoors even more.
When shops, café and restaurants closed, nature welcomed us with open arms. It is a peaceful place that inspired the content on every platform.
We want to be in nature and find simple pleasures there. This reflects in stock photos too.
In the year of the corona pandemic, stock images focusing on wanderlust are trending. People are sharing travel-related content when they are not able to go on a trip.
Creative minds find new ways to express their ache for travelling.
15. Environmental Consciousness and Sustainability
Environmental problems and sustainable solutions are even more important trends this year. People try even harder to lead a lifestyle that results in a viable future.
The fight against climate change appears in stock photos as well.
14. Perfect Imperfection
Models who look real and not Photoshopped has been getting more and more demanded. Nobody wants to see Barbie dolls with perfect hair, skin and makeup in the photos. Because people cannot relate to the unreal beauty anymore.
Stock images highlighting imperfections are huge trends in 2020. The more unusual and imperfect something, the more we like it.
13. Social Responsibility
Photography trends reflect what is happening around the world. Taking action and not staying silent are respected in society.
People want to be more responsible and have more meaningful lifestyle choices. Fighting for equality was never more relevant. And this shows in the image trends too.
Coronavirus, isolation, financial crises and riots. These are few of the most used words in the news in 2020.
Add general trends such as multitasking and being online all the time. Then mindfulness is the only rescue from burnout.
Mindfulness and slow living are among the top photography trends in 2020. Even looking at the stock photos in this topic can make us feel a bit more relaxed.
11. Healthy Food Alternatives
Healthy food alternatives have grown in popularity across the board. From ‘clean cocktails’ to swapping fries for green beans.
As Pinterest is visual SEO, this trend shows that we are likely to see a spike in demand for photos of healthy food alternatives.
So what will be the most in-demand stock photography for the food category? Photos that show healthy alternatives to staple food items.
That’s swapping green beans for fries. Slow food delivered fast. Air frying instead of deep frying. Sugar and alcohol-free cocktails.
Eating healthy is always on-trend. It comes down to creating images that can show how people can take their much-loved food and turn them into healthier versions.
10. Home Office
Creatives are always looking for images to help them tell a brand story. And part of that story is illustrating the flexibility of working from home.
Flatlays and styled home offices will be a huge hit – both for website imagery and to share on social media.
This includes admin, or office flat lays with tablets and smartphones. Ensure that buyers of stock photos can insert their personalised branding.
White and pastels will continue to trend here. They are the most adaptable to brand colours and text requirements.
9. Moving Images
Moving images are not just something you see in a Harry Potter movie. Apple now has ‘live’ photos that can be taken with your iPhone.
And we all know how popular apps like Instagram have made boomerangs.
But more recently, I have also started to see moving images, stop motion or GIFs popping up in Pinterest searches. They are also becoming more trendy among stock photography galleries.
8. Drone Photography
With the global discussion about plastic and the impact it is having on our environment, we will see an increase in imagery to match.
It will mean a huge shift for consumers, companies, and governments. There will be an increased demand in how we can find interesting compositions of drone photography to shed light on the state of our planet.
In 2018, we saw a lot of comebacks from the 70s and 80s in products and images to match. With oranges and greens as the leading colours, we saw patterns and hard light combining to produce a modern spin.
The trick here will be to recreate the feeling of retro whilst still capturing modern society.
From food to home decor and fashion, hard light and bold colours will continue to trend in 2020. Which brings me to the next stock photography trend.
6. Colour Gels
To complement the need for that little touch of retro, we will see coloured gels continue to trend in 2020. Again pairing with hard light to create a colour story.
These are aimed more at social media and advertising campaigns. It’s unlikely the small business and personal client base will be after this type of stock photography.
But edgy companies like Squarespace continue to use the imagery in line with this.
5. Stories of Authentic Living
Predictions for where the world’s most popular app, Instagram, will take us in 2020 was towards authentic living.
Before there was a huge interest in images depicting unrealistic scenes. It saw many accounts growing hundreds of thousands to millions of followers.
But the community is shifting from unrealistic to authentic.
Along with it will be imagery that depicts authentic living and ‘real talk’.
The stock photography trend here will be to capture every day in a beautiful way.
Engagement on these channels and with companies will depend on this. Engagement in 2020 will enable storytelling. Stories of authentic living.
4. Simple Flatlays
Continuing on from the where we will see the hottest social app taking us in 2020, we will also see a shift in the popular flat lay images.
Flat lays will still be popular. But there will be an increasing need for simple flat lays. Simple flat lays are more adaptable for the buyer. They can add their own touches to the images before they shared in many forms.
3. Cultural Diversity
A category that will continue to be a stock photography trend in 2020.
From diversity and blended families to images that depict gender equality. In 2020, there was a popular theme of images occurring in stock photography of ‘strong women’.
You can expect that trend to continue with the current discussion of gender quality and discrimination across all media in the media.
Take a moment to watch commercials. You’ll notice about every form of advertising imagery shows people who could fit into many racial categories. Images here should be of an inclusive natural.
2. Negative Space
A stock photography trend that will never get old. Negative space will only see increased demand in stock photography.
The ability to be able to adjust an image for text requirements is always something that buyers are looking for. Having images in your stock portfolio that have negative space located in different areas is key.
But negative space can be more than just for text requirements. In a noisy world where we are bombarded with messages. There might be a call for some imagery to provide a sense of calmness.
I use the Calm app, and the imagery they use is mostly of landscapes with vast feelings of emptiness. An inviting feeling when we are bombarded with messages constantly on our phones.
1. Vintage Editing for Lifestyle Photos
We know that VSCO reintroduced the feeling of the film with their Lightroom presets. It made stylistic editing more accessible to the photography community.
We will continue to see lifestyle stock images with a film or matte look being popular for websites and blog posts.
One thing that doesn’t go out of style for stock photography is good quality photos that tell stories. These images connect to what is most important to us.
Buyers are always on the lookout for quality work that is unique. So it doesn’t hurt to add some of your style into the images that you shoot for stock photography.
Looking to boost your income from your portrait photography business? Look no further! Read our eBook – Profit from Portraits, today!