With 2020 coming to a close, we turn our focus toward 2021. The past year has been challenging and has impacted our daily lives in many different ways. The rapidly changing world around us requires brands and marketers to evaluate the photos they’re using in advertisements and communication.

As a photographer or designer, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with current trends to be sure that your work is relevant and that your message is on point. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the trends that we anticipate for stock photos in 2021 (with examples that are available at Vecteezy).

1. Diversity & Inclusion

Now more than ever, it is essential for brands to use photos and images that portray diversity and inclusion. Today’s consumers expect to see real people from all walks of life and various backgrounds featured in advertising. Brands will adapt and look for photos that provide an authentic representation of their audience.

In 2020, searches by Vecteezy users for terms around diversity increased by as much as 300% compared to the previous year. As brands seek quality photos that accurately represent consumers and today’s culture, some outstanding opportunities are available for photographers to get more visibility for their work. Creating stock photos that present or portray diversity and inclusion and tagging them with relevant keywords is an ideal way to get more visibility and more downloads.

2. Social Activism

Gen-Z and Millennials are most comfortable online, so it’s no surprise that when they become actively involved in a cause or movement they do so through their favorite social media platforms or apps.

Slacktivism is no longer a meaningful way to describe the online movements taking over social platforms and apps as these individuals are often motivated and savvy and can make real change when they take action.

We expect to see younger generations organizing and participating in various events around activism and social change – climate, social justice, racism, authoritarianism.

Throughout 2020, searches by Vecteezy users for terms related to activism increased significantly across the board, with some searches increasing by as much as 20,000% compared to the previous year. In 2021, there will be a demand for visuals that reflect the symbolism of movements and organizations that are fighting for a cultural and systemic change.

3. Wellness & Mental Health

Wellness and mental health will be a major concern in 2021. Throughout the past year, many of us have experienced increased stress and anxiety over health and financial concerns. Decreased opportunities for casually socializing with friends and significant travel restrictions have also taken away many opportunities for healthy distractions from daily life. As a result, concerns about mental health and wellness are more common than ever.

Physical health and wellness have also been impacted. With gyms being closed at times, people have had to get more creative with finding ways to exercise.

In 2020, Vecteezy searches related to wellness increased by as much as 250% compared to 2019. In 2021, we’ll be looking to overcome challenges and get back to a better state in terms of health and wellness. That means that stock photos related to these issues will be in high demand.

4. Disconnection from Technology

As we seek balance in our lives, it’s increasingly important that we periodically disconnect from the technology that seems to always surround us. Technology is obviously important to our lifestyle, but it’s equally important that we don’t allow it to consume our lives.

With more and more people working remotely and relying on technology more than ever before, we anticipate a strong pull to consciously disconnect at times. Brands and marketers will be searching for stock photos to portray people spending time with family and friends, reading books, or pursuing other hobbies outside of technology. Throughout 2020, we saw a noticeable increase in search volume for terms related to things like family and hobbies, and we anticipate this trend to continue.

Disconnecting
Disconnecting

5. Hope

We enter 2021 with the hope that it will be a better and less stressful year. Negative headlines and depressing news can take a toll, so positive messages will be welcomed. As brands look to remain optimistic and upbeat, photos depicting positivity and hope will be needed. During the past year, search volume for words like “hope” and “inspiration” has increased, demonstrating the demand for these types of photos.

6. Natural Textures

There is an innate draw towards nature that makes it very appealing and effective for use in visuals. With most people being confined to their homes much more in 2020 than in past years, the appeal of nature is stronger than ever.

We anticipate that brands will intentionally include nature in advertising and messaging as a way to appeal to consumers who have felt the urge to get out more. One way to do this is through the use of textures. During 2020, our data showed that words related to natural textures like stone, sand, leaves, plants, and wood were noticeably higher in popularity. 

7. Muted Tones

Desaturated, dulled hues lacking bold, bright splashes are going to be very popular in 2021. These tones are strong, yet not overpowering; engaging but not overly exciting. We’ve seen an increase in search volume for terms like “muted”, “muted tones”, and “desaturated”.

Muted colors are less distracting and give consumers the feeling of safety and security that is necessary in these unpredictable times. Many brands and advertisers feature a muted color palette because of the understated power and resonance these tones hold with consumers, without being overwhelming. This is especially true in the healthcare and financial industries where you must strike a more somber tone with your audience.

8. Food & Hobbies

During the past year, many people have been able to reconnect with their hobbies as a result of having more time at home and limited options for entertainment. While there are plenty of different hobbies that can be pursued, cooking is a popular hobby that has gained even more interest with a growing number of people cooking and eating at home.

Hobbies like music, reading, relaxing, and especially food/cooking were much more prevalent in our search data than we’ve seen in years past – perhaps due to how much time people were spending at home instead of going out in 2020. We believe that photos related to these types of hobbies will be in demand throughout the coming year as brands look to connect with people based on their interests.

Hobby

Conclusion

Each year brings new opportunities, and in 2021 we see several trends that are likely to impact the stock photo industry and present opportunities to photographers. By being aware of the trends covered in this article, you’ll be able to create stock photos that people are searching for. If you’re a marketer, you can use these trends to influence the types of photos that you select for your advertisements and communications.