Trends in Stock Photography That You Need to Know Now


Selling photographs through stock agencies has always been a challenging business. Knowing what to shoot and what will do well, sometimes seems like a lottery. Stock, however, like photography in general, goes through phases and trends.

But how to spot trends, how to see the next big thing? There are several ways, magazines and websites that push beyond the conventional are a good start. The stock agency blogs are also a good reference point. Today we are going to look at some current and future trends in stock photography.

Drones and Aerial

Drone imagery is very much the flavor of the day. There is increasing demand for great aerial photography and clips. To sell aerial stock you will need to check local commercial licensing rules but virtually all the major stock agencies are continuously requesting good aerial stock.

Photo by Jason Row


Lifestyle, along with travel photography, has been the mainstay of the stock business for a long time. Demand has increased dramatically in the digital and internet eras. Until recently that requirement has been for picture-perfect models in designer clothing in perfect office environments. However, there has been a big shift towards more gritty realism in lifestyle shots. Workers in dirty overalls, busy cluttered offices, normal people not supermodels. There is also an increase in demand for LGBT models as well as better representation of ethnic minorities. Middle Eastern couples and families are in particular demand.

The stages selfie type of lifestyle shot is also an up and coming style to look out for.

Photo by Wonderlijk Werken


Access to smartphone cameras means that any of us are capable of becoming “citizen journalists” This term refers to people that happen to be in the right place at the right time to capture breaking news stories. Many agencies now have specialist editorial sections where you can upload a newsworthy item and have it sped through quality control and online in minutes. Some agencies will actively market those images to relevant news agencies.

Photo by Laurel L. Russwurm

Time-lapse and Hyper-lapse

Time-lapse has seen growing demand for a while. This is in line with the increasing amount of video content that is being created. A good time-lapse will condense 30-60 minutes of time into a 10-20 second video clip that conveys a sense of motion. Creating time-lapse can be time-consuming, but as they are sold as video clips not still images they can command much higher commissions.

Hyper-lapse is a form of time-lapse where the camera is moved through a location as the shots are being taken. It is a tricky thing to achieve as any big variance from the set path will look jarring in the clip. However, like time-lapse they can command a good commission.

People in Locations

Another staple of the stock image market has always been travel. The current trend, driven by the Instagram generation is for adventurous looking people standing in stunning wild locations. The advent of adventure style cameras such as GoPro has also opened the market for shots that would have been considered much more difficult in years past. These point of view action shots can be from the depths of an ocean, atop a mountain or cycling a spectacular road. Many current image demands are driven by what is being shared on social media and a lot of this is action style photography

Photo by Mitch Barrie


Video stock has been increasing in demand for a while. Driven by the dramatic increase in media creation for YouTube there is a big demand for all types of video. The future trend is for 4K video. It is a future that is on the verge of happening. YouTube already supports 4K and slowly 4K monitors and TVs are making inroads into the consumer market.

For content creators, the major issue with 4K is having the processing power to edit it and the space to store it. A 20-second 4K clip in the PhotoJpeg Codec that most stock agencies prefer can run to 1.5gb of information. A big step up over the 30-50mb image files we are used to dealing with.

360 Images and Video

This is a trend that is on the cusp of going big. A few stock agencies have tapped into this future demand but many have not yet. The technology is still first generation, both in terms of camera and VR headsets to watch it. Second generation, however, is not far away and 360-degree cameras are surprisingly cheap to buy. This is likely to be the next big thing in stock photography.

Spotting the trends in stock photography is always going to be a tricky proposition. The above are some of the current and future trends that we believe are worth looking into. However to stay abreast of what is happening, keep an eye on photography websites and contributor blogs at stock agencies. Also look at the sorts of images that go viral on social media, these can be a good indicator of a future trend.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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