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Stock photo trends tend to follow design trends. One way to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to your photos is to spend some time doing a little research before you click the shutter or look through your shots.

One way to do this is to head to your local bookstore and peruse the current magazines, paying particular attention to the colors and the general aesthetic of the photos in both the ads and the articles.

Be sure to check out any of the magazines that fit a niche you are interested in photographing, too. This is a great way to get a feel for what’s popular in your particular genre. 

Some trends splash onto the scene and are here today, gone tomorrow. For stock, it’s a good idea to focus in on trends that will not just do well today, but will continue to sell in the years to come. You want to focus on trends with staying power.

With the long term in mind, here are five of the current top trends to consider adding to your stock photo portfolios:

1. Authentic 

stock photo trends

Authenticity has been a trend for a while now and shows no sign of slowing down. Gone are the days of the super-staged, brightly lit “parodies of life” shots that used to be everywhere. Now it’s about real life, real people, doing real things. Think candid moments with natural lighting, actual activities, genuine interactions, and real expressions. You can even use your smartphone for these to give it that “Instagram” feel, which is very popular. With this style, you become much more the documentarian than the stock photographer. 

2. Wanderlust

stock photo trends_Wanderlust

As more and more of us are constantly connected with our smartphones, computers, smart homes, and so on, many also have a deeper desire to un-plug, get away, and experience the natural world. It’s a delicate balancing act. All this (new) technology is a trend in and of itself, but what is new this year can so quickly be obsolete next year. 

The best approach is to focus on the side of this trend that will have staying power as the next big tech gadget rolls in — the un-plugged part. No matter what evolves with technology, people will continue to be more and more connected. At the same time, the need to un-plug and get away from the constant “noise” will be greater than ever. Create images that tap into this desire to explore. 

3. Wellness & Fitness (two for one) 

stock photo trends_wellness&fitness

I see these two as equals, or twins. And while the subject can be slightly different, the general ideas and reasons behind them are mostly the same. I do think that wellness covers a much broader scope, however. It can include any age group from pregnancy all the way to the elderly. 

Wellness can include water, food, medicine, mental health, spirituality, and, yes, even fitness. Many people are becoming much more concerned about all aspects of life that contribute to their own personal wellness and also that of their families, friends, and communities at large. It’s a huge topic and a trend that’s likely to stay around. 

4. Minimalism 

stock photo trends_minimalist

We all know that copy space is an important consideration when composing and working through your shot list. Minimalism is like copy space on steroids. It’s not just that there is negative space in the image, it’s that there is in actuality very little else. To pull off these types of shots, you need to have a clear and interesting subject since there is very little else for the eye to wander to. There is something tranquil and peaceful about a very well-executed minimalist shot. They are super clean with lots of room for text. 

5. Worldly

stock photo trends_wordly

As technology advances, we are becoming more connected on a global scale than at any other time in history. I have “friends” online from so many different countries, it’s mind blowing. 

Photos that show the world in all its diversity are in demand. These types of images are perfect for our GEP photographers. They could be majestic landscapes, landmarks, exotic animals, interesting people, and cultural representations, to name a few. Anything showing the world’s diverse beauty fits with this trend. 

You can’t go wrong incorporating any or all of these five trends into your own photography.

Now, check out what photos are selling best right now for 5 of our successful stock photographers

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