2019 is just around the corner and data from the biggest searches in 2018 can help photographers, videographers, and other creatives determine which projects will resonate most. Looking at search data from 2018, stock photography companies like Adobe Stock and StoryBlocks are looking to search data to pinpoint the year’s trends. Knowing what images people search for also provides a glimpse into our collective feelings about what’s going on in society, what events are most important, and the commonalities that draw us together.
While the reports highlight trends inside “just” a photo, several of the noted trends indicate something more. Many of these predicted trends tie into a humanitarian, holistic thread using imagery to make a statement on social issues. Others point to the increased importance of authenticity and inclusivity, while also showing changes in the industry like an increasing coverage of news and the faster pace of content creation.
Identifying trends isn’t just about knowing what’s popular; it offers actionable intelligence to the world’s creatives, giving them an idea of the types of content they should focus on. “By understanding visual trends and becoming visually fluent, creatives can apply these findings and add fresh, timely elements to their own work,” Adobe Stock’s Brenda Milis told Digital Trends.
From self-expression to brand ethics
As varied as the predicted trends for 2019 are, they all carry a similar humanitarian theme for both self-care and care for the world around us. On reviewing Adobe’s predictions, Milis said, “I was a bit surprised by how holistic the trends are for 2019. At the outset, the four trends [Natural Instincts, Creative Democracy, Disruptive Expression, and Brand Stand] present as rather unique and separate. Yet when you take a deep dive into each, what you see is growing commitment among consumers to care for both themselves and the world, as well as growing interest to express this commitment publicly.”
Natural Instincts, the first of Adobe’s 2019 predictions, captures the natural world as a way to escape from the increasingly digital one. The trend is one that goes beyond just imagery, Adobe says, with more U.S. consumers looking for products that use natural resources.
While the first trend shows an escape from the technological world, the second exaggerates it. Creative Democracy is a trend towards authentic images with vivid color, in a nod to the increasing way individuals create their own content. The trend is influenced by social media, as well as mobile-first tools like live-streaming. Images and video following this trend, Adobe says, have bright colors and diverse subjects.
Extreme self-expression encompasses the Disruptive Expression trend, from protests to disruptive images without an agenda that are simply eye-catching enough to stand out in the noise. Adobe says the trend is about embracing identity and celebrating individuality, but with intensity.
Brand Stand is Adobe’s final 2019 trend prediction that’s based on a study suggesting almost half of millennials believe companies should take a stand on social issues. Brands are either taking a public stand, Adobe says, or helping consumers make ethically-aware decisions.
Authenticity and diversity
To pinpoint upcoming trends, stock image company StoryBlocks looks for spikes in the number of searches. “We see a huge push toward authenticity and inclusivity within the creative community,” StoryBlocks CEO TJ Leonard told Digital Trends. It’s a prediction the company also made for 2018, which is now riding a strong tailwind into 2019.
“The cable wars and ‘fake news’ movement have content creators hungry for material that better represents the world they identify with — one that is diverse and inclusive,” Leonard said. “We see this trend play out everywhere from stock media to big-budget films like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians.”
StoryBlocks data also shows an increase in searches related to diversity. The term “Islamic” is up 185 percent, “African” 176 percent, and “elderly” 121 percent.
Along with authenticity and diversity, searches have increased for templates and audio surrounding breaking news, suggesting more creators are looking to produce journalistic content as consumers become wary of fake news.
StoryBlocks also noted a surge in searches related to current events, trends which typically don’t pop up right away. The number of users searching for “trial” soared by more than 700 percent, particularly around the time of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Increases for weather, Facebook, and elections were also noted.
Finally, the platform noted a jump in the number of searches for elements that help save creators time, like “easy to use templates,” typography templates, and video effects. “The mega trend we are watching is the evolution — and consolidation — of the creative workflow,” Leonard said. “Time saving tools and new content types are just a couple of ways storytellers are looking for support as they see a huge uptick in shorter-form projects.”
As content is forced to become ever more digestible, Leonard said it has led to an increase in demand for templates, which allow creatives to produce bite-sized content more efficiently. But perhaps what’s most interesting about these predicted trends is that creatives specifically trying to capitalize on them may fail. For example, if you’re trying to appear authentic just to be on-trend, you aren’t really being authentic — and viewers may see right through it. On the other hand, a drive toward authenticity may make it easier to simply be yourself and focus on what’s important to you.