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Stock photography used to be all about creating perfectly polished images. Buyers wanted photos that showed a clean, orderly, highly curated version of life.

Photos like the ones below showing perfect, well-dressed, smiling models posing for the camera in sterile settings were pretty typical in stock photo collections.

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But times have changed and these types of photos really don’t resonate much with people anymore.

Stock photography is always evolving, and there is now a huge demand for perfectly imperfect images. People want to see real life with all of its messiness, quirks, and unique experiences.

These days, “models” can truly be anyone and everyone. Images showing a range of ages, lifestyles, and cultural diversity are now the bestsellers on stock photo sites. People connect with photos that capture real people in real moments.

office stock image

This is great news for us stock photographers because it opens up a lot more opportunities and it makes finding models so much easier. It also means the folks we know and encounter in our daily lives can make the perfect stock photo subjects!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Highlight individuality

Every person has unique qualities and your photographs should embrace this idea. Strive to show the true personality of your models by capturing genuine expressions and showcasing individual style.

laptop stock image
dinosaur heads

Generational diversity

Stock photo libraries used to be filled almost exclusively with young models. We are seeing an ever growing demand for photos featuring a wide range of ages. There is still a shortage of high-quality stock photos showing older generations in day-to-day life. This shortage creates a real opportunity for stock photographers willing to think outside the box. You should also consider shooting images that show people of different ages interacting together.

gardening stock photo

Capture real moments

The days of overly staged photos are gone. One of the best ways to create a feeling of authenticity in your images is to show your models engaged in activities or interacting with each other through shared experiences.

Avoid having your subjects look at the camera with forced smiles. It can be tricky to capture genuine emotion and expressions, but the best advice is to work on developing a rapport with your models so that they feel comfortable while you photograph. This will lead to a more relaxed environment and more natural body language. This is where photographing people you already have a connection with, such as friends and family, is a major advantage.

kid bike stock
parents on phone

Photograph real people in real places

With current visual trends focusing on everyday people as models, it’s also important to provide true-to-life settings and backgrounds. Don’t worry if things aren’t perfect. While you still want to create clutter-free compositions, this doesn’t mean you have to have a sterile background or perfectly placed objects. Include what you need to support the message of your photo and exclude the things that could distract from your subjects. Sometimes all it takes is using a large aperture opening to softly blur the background just enough to provide a hint of the setting without being distracting.

I hope this inspires you to keep your camera handy because there has never been a better time to create stock photos showing real life, in all its perfect imperfectness!

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hose waterfight stock