Visual Trends and stock photography


What is stock photography?

It is the supply of photographs that are often licensed for specific use. The stock photo industry began to gain hold in the 1920s and has established things including traditional macostock photography and mid stock photography and micro stock photography. Whilst conventional stock agencies charge from several hundred to several thousands pounds per image, micro stock photography may sell for around 25p. Professional photographers mostly place their images with one or more stock agencies on a contract basis, whilst stock agencies may accept the high quality photos of amateur photographers through an online submission. Subjects of stock photos are diverse as one image can be used for many different genres of adverting.

Traditional stock photography agencies have include Robert stock, Bettman Archive in New York  ad Hulton Archive in the uk and lots more. During the 1990’s companies like Phorodisc in Seattle began selling CD ROMS with packs of images, which started the royalty free licensing system during a time when rights managed licensing was normal in the industry. There was a great amount of strength among stock agencies around 1990 and 2000’s with particular agencies like Getty images and Corbis. The early microstock company istockphoto was founded in may 2000 followed by other agencies like can stock photo, Fotolia, Shutterstock and Dreamstime.

There are lots of different image libraries around the world and you would need to look through all of them to try and find which agencies would give you the best price, to then agree to their terms and conditions.

Types of Image collections are:

  • Specialist –  Millennium,  Oxford Scientific where only specialist images are accepted that are generally from specialist photographers and commissioned work.
  • Microstock – Shutterstock, IStock where high volume of images are accepted from professional photographers and amateurs. However normally in this type of stock you don’t get much money for the images.
  • Generalist –  Alamy, Getty have a range of client base and networks where lots of selection of images are accepted.

There are many types of visuals trends such as:

  • The outsider- outlaws, rule breakers and celebrating rebels
  • Divine Living- search for something more mindful, spiritual and brand purpose
  • Extended Human- it shows how technology is becoming an extension of ourselves
  • Messthetics- Breaking away from predictability of clean adverting images, grimy, visceral, ugly, beautiful and messy
  • Silence vs Noise- minimalistic and simple, more frenetic, visually, it says less is more
  • Surreality- photogrhaers are using many nee phot manipulation techniques to create very playful and often surreal images.


Working in groups of 3 or 4:

  • Pick two visual trends
  • find 6 images that represent each
  • Add 4 key words that might be used on a stock photography website

Amelia, Laura, Sandra (Visual Trends)