How Instagram is Changing the Stock Photography Industry

Stock imagery reflects and shapes our culture and societal values, so as our culture and values change, so does the stock photography industry.

Image: Envato Elements

The stock photography industry creates visual content for mass distribution. Stock photo agencies catalogue and license professional photographs of people, places and things to bloggers and big businesses for a variety of marketing, advertising and artistic purposes. Stock imagery permeates our media. It reflects and shapes our culture and societal values, so as our culture and values change, so does the stock photography industry.

With 700 million monthly active users on Instagram, the popular social media network has undeniable influence on our culture and therefore influence on the stock photography industry too. Instagram is changing how we consume and produce visual media. Millions of users take to Instagram every day to share and communicate through personal photography. Instagram gives insight into the content consumers are hungry for and the aesthetic they are drawn to. So as trends emerge on Instagram, you can bet your bottom dollar that those trends will emerge in stock imagery as well. Below are 3 big trends emerging via Instagram that are influencing the stock photography industry.

Trend 1: Unfiltered/authentic imagery

People are drawn to authenticity: real people, real moments and real emotion. People want to see something they can connect and relate to. Classic staged, generic stock photos don’t resonate with consumers. Polished, glossy images are becoming a thing of the past. And as more Instagram users are posting unfiltered, candid posts, stock photographers are working to capture authentic imagery with documentary style shoots: natural shoots featuring real people.

New dresses have arrived. Snap them up in the link in bio. #mango #mangonewnow #ss17 #dress

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Source: Humans of NY

Stock photos: beautiful girl by simbiothy (left) and Old Man Holding Tablet Cocktail Concept by Rawpixel (right).

Trend 2: A first-person perspective

Selfie sticks, drones, go pros and other gadgets allow consumers to play with perspective when taking photos and videos. There are more 360 degree panoramas and aerial shots, more photos of hands steering bikes, feet dangling off mountain tops and footage of skydives and bungee jumps. People are posting Instagram photos and video stories with first person perspective, and stock photographers are following suit.

“We are looking for images that make us feel like we are right there. It’s no longer enough to look at the picture, we want to be in the picture.-” Pam Grossman, visual trends director for Getty Images 

Source: Humzadeas 

Source: caseyneistat

Stock photos: happy teenage students or friends outdoors by dolgachov (left) and Infinite perspective by viledevil (right).

Trend 3: Social change

There is a growing desire for socially conscious content. It’s not just about what the photo looks like, it’s about the message it conveys. Not only do consumers want to see more authentic, unfiltered imagery they want to see unfiltered imagery about topics that matter to them. According to Getty Images 2017 visual trends report ‘global neighborhood’ and ‘gritty women’ are search terms trends on the rise. People are interested in imagery that challenge gender constructs and cultural stereotypes. They want to see photography that highlights various social issues they care about.

Source: CNN

Source: Olivia Wilde

Source: Orlando Bloom

Stock photos: LGBT Lesbian Couple Moments Happiness Concept by Rawpixel (left) and Slum district of Caracas with small wooden coloured houses by piccaya (right).

As our culture evolves and new social issues emerge, stock photographers work to capture moments that showcase these changes and illustrate our current cultural climate. Our culture and societal norms and values greatly impact the photography industry. Stock imagery acts like a mirror, reflecting our social and political landscape back to us. Trends including, an increased desire for authenticity, first person perspective accounts and increased interest in social change are highlighted and communicated in real time through social platforms like Instagram and the stock photography industry reflects these trends.

What other photography trends have you noticed this year?

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Jamie Frankenberg

About the Author Jamie Frankenberg

Jamie is a freelance writer and social worker with a background in public relations. She's currently exploring the world and learning about new cultures, connection, and creativity.