A new year means new subjects and styles in stock photography. See what these expert photographers have to say about upcoming trends in 2018.

The history of photography is short but rich. Joseph Nicephore Niepce took the oldest surviving photograph in 1826. In 1900, Kodak made the Brownie available to the public for $1.00. 1907 saw the first commercial process for creating color photographs, and Kodachrome arrived in 1935. Digital photography changed everything in 1975, and camera phones developed a few decades later. By the 2010s, people produced hundreds of billions of pictures each year. An estimated 1.2 trillion photographs were taken in 2017 alone.

Still, the key to understanding photography isn’t about the numbers. It’s also about subject matter, aesthetics, and technique. No matter how many photographs there are the world will always need more. As the headlines change and trends come and go, image buyers will continue to seek out images that speak to their audiences. We asked nine stock photographers to tell us what they think might happen in 2018. What subjects, styles, and themes will people want to buy, and what kinds of pictures will stand out from the rest? Read on to see what they predict.

1. “I believe that the most-wanted pictures will be those that show us a new world: a world of emancipation, freedom, and rights.”

Ollyy (Andrea Piacquadio)

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Atmosphere

Image by Ollyy (Andrea Piacquadio). Gear: Canon 5DS camera, Sigma 50mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/250 sec; f1.4; ISO 100.

I shot this picture of this young model at dawn, under the light of the rising sun in Budapest.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

I believe that the most-wanted pictures will be those that show us a new world: a world of emancipation, freedom, and rights. And I think that in 2018 the most in-demand pictures will be the natural, realistic ones—images that show the innate beauty of the scene, the models, and the atmosphere just as they are.

I also think we will see increased requests for backlighted pictures. This hasn’t been very common thus far, but I think backlight will be appreciated more and more for the sense of warmth and beauty it gives.

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Backlighting

Image by Ollyy (Andrea Piacquadio).

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

Movies are my first and best source of inspiration. In particular, the Hollywood productions are my favorites. I used to watch almost five movies a week, but then I had to slow down a little bit.

2. “The hard lighting is trendy now perhaps because it looks simple, positive, and authentic.”

TierneyMJ (Michiko Tierney)

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Simple

Image by TierneyMJ (Michiko Tierney). Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens. Settings: Exposure 1/160 sec; f7.1; ISO 250.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

One style that became popular recently is pairing simple, solid color backgrounds with bright, relatively hard lighting. Magazines, department store posters, and clothing catalogs all give the indication that this style will increase in ubiquity in 2018. Images in this style sell well as stock photos because the simple, solid background leaves clean copy-space for easy customization (elongating, adding text or logos). The hard lighting is trendy now perhaps because it looks simple, positive, and authentic. It looks like direct sunlight.

Pictured: [1] Image by TierneyMJ (Michiko Tierney). [2] Image by TierneyMJ (Michiko Tierney).

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

Illustration is the biggest inspiration for my stock photo work. Illustrations often have strong and clear concepts. By their nature, they are free of unwanted distractions and have a clarity of intention. They represent an idealistic world. My job as a stock photographer is creating images that express ideas clearly for bloggers, companies, and marketers, so I try to think like an illustrator. I try to have an illustration-like clarity of concept.

3. “The desire for more authentic images isn’t going away. At the same time, there is a huge demand for creativity and fresh ideas.”

www.rawpixel.com (@rawpixelimages)

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Authentic

Image by www.rawpixel.com (@rawpixelimages). Gear: NIKON D3X camera, 50.0 mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/100 sec; f2.8; ISO 100.

This is a real office. The models in the background are not posing. We came up with a realistic, creative idea, and we honed in on the genuine emotion of our model.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

From an artistic perspective, it’s a great time to be a stock photographer. The desire for more authentic images isn’t going away. At the same time, there is a huge demand for creativity and fresh ideas. I think the goal is to set up a situation that is as real as possible and then have fun with it. Try something different while hopefully maintaining a clear concept. Set your shoot up as best as you can, and allow your models to run with it for real.

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Clear Concepts

Image by www.rawpixel.com (@rawpixelimages).

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

I use Google, but the key is to try to find the non-stock images. Pinterest, books and magazines, movies, and music videos are also sources of inspiration, and we keep tabs on our favorite photographers and designers.

4. “…next year’s in-demand content could be in the field of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality).”

ImageFlow (Denis Ismagilov)

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Virtual Reality

Image by ImageFlow (Denis Ismagilov). Gear: Canon EOS 6D camera, Canon 24-105 L lens, 2 Hensel Integra 500 freemasks. Settings: Focal length 65mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f8; ISO 100.

In terms of composition, I believe that the only thing that cannot be replicated by computers is the portrait. Each person has their own charming personality, and as a photographer, I try to capture it.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

Trends are the biggest mystery for a creator of stock images. But still, we are living in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That means that technologies fundamentally change the way we live, work, and relate to each other. In my opinion, next year’s in-demand content could be in the field of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). The image above was made in the studio on a white background. Later in post-production, I isolated the model from the background and used a more suitable background for VR tech.

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Augmented Reality

Image by ImageFlow (Denis Ismagilov).

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

I spend a lot of time researching trends on the web and in real life, traveling around the world, and connecting with different people.

5. “In 2018, I would like to focus on conceptual homes built for health, efficiency, and ecological sustainability.”

Artazum, LLC (Iriana Shiyan)

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Sustainability

Image by Artazum, LLC (Iriana Shiyan). Gear: Canon 5D Mark 4 camera, Canon Tilt-Shift lens, Speedlight 600EX, Tripod. Settings: Focal length 17mm; f9; ISO 250. [6 exposures combined in Photomatix Pro and processed in Photoshop CS6]

The top-selling interiors this year have had natural tones and materials, combined with luxury architecture and furnishings.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

I shoot about 450 homes per year, and in my field, the most in-demand images are the high-end, luxury home interiors and exteriors. I am fortunate to live in one of the most desirable areas in the US: Bellevue-Seattle, WA. Modern home interiors built in 2017 are my top-sellers. In 2018, I would like to focus on conceptual homes built for health, efficiency, and ecological sustainability.

Pictured: [1] Image by Artazum, LLC (Iriana Shiyan). [2] Image by Artazum, LLC (Iriana Shiyan). [3] Image by Artazum, LLC (Iriana Shiyan).

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

I am in love with architecture, and I still feel excited when I walk into an unknown house, even after I’ve photographed thousands of them. I have a mission and a dream to build the homes of the future—homes that are healthy for people and our planet. My goal is to work with people who are creating them worldwide and keep delivering stock images along the way.

6. “People will always like themes like new gadgets, travel, healthy lifestyles, business, etc. But it’s more important to try to keep things real and spontaneous.”

mimagephotography

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Spontaneity

Image by mimagephotography. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III camera, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Settings: Focal length 24mm; exposure 1/320 sec; f3.5; ISO 320.

While traveling from one location to another, we don’t want to waste any time waiting in traffic, so we sometimes take some quick shots along the way. This is one of those shots.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

People will always like themes like new gadgets, travel, healthy lifestyles, business, etc. But it’s more important to try to keep things real and spontaneous. Avoid images that are cheesy and overly posed. People don’t like images where the model looks uncomfortable and fake. When you shoot with models, it’s important to have the shoot planned, but always try to go with the flow as much as possible. Figure out what works best for the model as a person, instead of trying to make the model act like someone they aren’t.

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Go With the Flow

Image by mimagephotography.

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

The internet is always perfect for finding new things, but it’s a bit of a copy-paste kind of inspiration. Walking around cities and observing people—how they behave and interact—can give you ideas for new shoots. Also shopping malls, airports, or other “non-places” are great for seeing how commercial images are used.

7. “…I think that the reflection trend, which represents simplicity and self-searching, will continue to be popular.”

tomertu (Tomer Turjeman)

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Color

Image by tomertu (Tomer Turjeman). Gear: Canon EOS 80D camera, Sigma Art 24-105mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/50 sec; f11; ISO 100.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

In my opinion, we will continue to see colorful and bright still life images. Also, the top view style is here to stay. In addition, I think that the reflection trend, which represents simplicity and self-searching, will continue to be popular.

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Tradition

Image by tomertu (Tomer Turjeman).

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

I find inspiration in everyday life and in everything around me, from the textures and colors I see on the street to the way light can change the appearance of objects. I also get inspiration from cultural diversity and rituals.

8. “I think the trend is towards a glut of images, but I believe that photographs reflecting real events, politics, and science will always be relevant.”

Iakov Filimonov

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Relevance

Image by Iakov Filimonov. Gear: Canon camera, Canon lens. Settings: Unknown.

While strolling through sunny Barcelona, I saw these Catalonian flags at a rally on the 300th anniversary of the loss of independence of Catalonia.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

There are better devices coming out every day. Photography is becoming cheaper, and there are more and more photographers. I think the trend is towards a glut of images, but I believe that photographs reflecting real events, politics, and science will always be relevant.

Pictured: [1] Image by Iakov Filimonov. [2] Image by Iakov Filimonov.

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

I am inspired by every ray of sun. I think about the physical properties of light, and it’s amazing that nature has given us the opportunity to see.

9. “…I believe that images that are more original, natural, emotional, and vivid (without exaggerated rendering) will be the most popular.”

Tom Wang

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Emotional

Image by Tom Wang. Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, 28-105mm f4.0. Settings: Focal length 28mm; exposure 1/160 sec; f11; ISO 250.

What are your predictions for the stock photography industry in 2018?

The most difficult thing to do is forecasting the future, but I believe that images that are more original, natural, emotional, and vivid (without exaggerated rendering) will be the most popular.

9 Photographers on the Future Trends of Stock Photography — Humanity

Image by Tom Wang.

Where do you find inspiration for your photography?

I like to observe life, people, animals, and the environment. My inspiration comes from humanity.

Top Image by Ollyy.