How Instagram Has Changed Stock Photography

Instagram has had a big impact on stock imagery. Which trends have we seen within our photo library on Envato Elements.

Portrait for Envato By Envato
Posted 13 Mar 2018

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 1 billion people using Instagram every month, the popular social media network has an undeniable influence on our culture and therefore influences 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.

01. 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.

View this post on Instagram

“I owned a frame shop in Atlanta for thirty years. But every time I went to a theater and sat in the audience, I got the feeling that God had come and left without me. I just knew that I was meant to perform. Then one day a woman walked up to me in a health food store, and asked: ‘Do you always talk like that or do you have a cold?’ I said: ‘Excuse me?’ And she told me that she wanted to cast me in a BMW commercial. I thought it was a freebie. But on the way out of the studio, they asked for my social security number. $750 for three minutes on the mic! I thought: ‘I need more of this.’ I started taking acting classes. I got cast in a few local plays. I moved to New York on my 50th birthday. I wasn’t about to sit around in my later years wondering if my soul had gotten what it needs. I drew unemployment for the first time in my life. But by 2003 I was a member of SAG. By 2005 I had a speaking part on Law and Order SVU. And at the age of 62 I was given a full scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Things have dried up a bit since then. I had to take care of my mother for six years. And it’s hard for women of a certain age to get cast. But it ain’t over yet. Things happen when they’re supposed to happen. And I’m a firm believer that nobody can get what is yours to have. And I will tell you this: I’ve already envisioned what I’m wearing the first time I get invited to the Oscars. Red mermaid dress, fitted from the waist to the knees, and flaring out at the bottom. A stand-up collar that frames the back of my head. Stunning neckline. And a king’s ransom of rubies on loan from Harry Winston.”

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02. An Aerial View

Drones allow consumers to play with perspective when taking photos and videos. There are more aerial shots as technology keeps improving and affordability keeps improving it. People are posting Instagram photos and video stories with an aerial perspective, and stock photographers are following suit.

Even with the new regulations in some countries, there’s no signs of drone photography slowing down. It allows new perspectives that simply weren’t possible before without using expensive equipment.

Gaby Jalbert, Envato’s Content Specialist for photos

03. 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 Envato Elements trend prediction for 2020 'social issues' trends is on the rise. People are interested in imagery that challenges the norm and cultural stereotypes. They want to see photography that highlights various social issues they care about like violence against women or gun control.

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? Check out our new photo library on Envato Elements.