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Stock Imagery: Winds of Change

(July 2010) posted on Fri Jul 16, 2010

Image providers are helping users create more effective messages.

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By Kacey King

Current issues like global warming and concern about the environment are creating a new category in stock photography as well as influencing lifestyle shoots in terms of styling and choice of locations.

Getty Images: Authenticity. There is a definite need among customers for images that convey realism; that suspend your disbelief with non-posed, believable moments captured in a documentary style. The trend is toward less stock-y images, more “Flickr-esque” imagery that carries greater honesty in reflecting people’s lives.

Fotolia: There have been two distinct needs from buyers: business basics and masterful shots. But what these categories have in common is that buyers demand clean, high-quality images for an affordable rate. We see a lot of traffic on our website to the most popular downloads of the week section.

PhotoSpin: Advertising reflects the people and culture of society. Our job is to provide the creative professional the tools to help create a viable and timely ad. Having images that reflect current trends is essential in sustaining our business. As a result, we post a “What’s Hot” blog that goes out to our contributing artists letting them know what our customers are looking for in terms of images and what they need for their campaigns.

With the world in recession and the multitude of plagues and natural disasters that we have experienced, images that show hope, family, personal victories, and resolve are becoming most popular.

Corbis: We divide images into commercial, editorial, and microstock. In the commercial space—which is advertising, company brochure, or annual report, etc.—we don’t see a lot of change. We think the market could actually grow. Editorial, with print and book publishing versus Web, we will probably see impact on that. What imagery people are using is not changing as much, but customers are finding it hard to find a reason to buy a high-quality image versus a microstock image, because there might not be that much of a difference.

Dreamstime: People and lifestyle imagery remain the most popular, while eco was among the most popular subjects this year. Real-life trends show up in stock. There is a particular interest toward the authenticity of the content. Buyers complain about unnatural looking models or fake emotions, therefore there is a growing demand for real images.