We’re looking at the top 17 searches on Shutterstock in 2020 to discover the images that mark this milestone.

A 17th anniversary isn’t a traditional milestone, but when it happens in a year like 2020, it’s worth pausing to reflect on where you’ve been. To consider what might lie ahead. To stop and appreciate what you have now.

Even though we’re only about halfway through the year, 2020’s already one for the books. It’s been a year of big events, big changes, and big conversations that will shape 2021 and beyond.

Interestingly, we see the real-time flow of these conversations when we look at the way Shutterstock users interact with the site — what they are searching for and downloading. These users are worldwide content creators, searching our collection for images, video, and music that can help them tell the story of today.

To reflect on our 17th year, we took a look at how people are using Shutterstock assets to engage, educate, and entertain. We went all the way back to January to identify the top 17 terms people have searched for on Shutterstock in 2020 — so far. As this year has shown us, there’s no telling what we might be talking about tomorrow. Here are the top terms, presented in no particular order.


Flowers - top Shutterstock image search
Image via JoeyCheung.

It’s safe to say that a lot of people are spending more time online these days. Images of flowers offer a soothing reminder of the organic beauty just outside the window.


Pattern - top Shutterstock image search

Some things never change. Patterns are powerhouse design elements with an endless array of uses, and they make the list every year.


Women - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Andrii Kobryn

Women are a popular search time no matter when you look at the list. And that’s why we work diligently to provide accurate, equal, and authentic representation of women to our users.


Business - top Shutterstock image search
Image via gpointstudio

Business. As in work. As in work from home, a common experience over the the last few months. Additionally, with economies fighting to adapt to current events, businesses of all shapes and sizes are a common topic of discussion.


Abstract - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Excellent backgrounds.

Like patterns, abstract images are perennial and their use cases myriad. Shutterstock has a wild variety of abstract images, helping users flex their creative muscles in their design.


Coronavirus - top Shutterstock image search
Image via creativeneko.

It has redefined how we work, play, shop, communicate, and more. It’s no surprise to see the Coronavirus on this list, and its presence has impacted how we represent life, work, health, and more in imagery.


Home - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Jacob Lund

For lots of us, 2020 meant rediscovering the joys of staying at home — binge-watching, bread making, or just being with loved ones. Our global contributors help us keep our collection stocked with diverse representations of home sweet home.


Family - top Shutterstock image search
Image via NDAB Creativity,

Families are spending more time together than ever. Multi-generational families are sharing spaces, parents are juggling work-from-home and homeschooling, and we’re all working diligently to keep our families safe.


Masks - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Ti Vla.

A very “now” — and unfortunately divisive — topic, as communities across the world work to reopen and return to normalcy. Masks are sure to be a staple in our imagery for the next year, at least.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Johnny Silvercloud.

2020 will long be defined as a year when people took action and started vital discussions about social justice, equality, and basic human rights. Black Lives Matter.


Summer - top Shutterstock image search
Photo via idreamphoto.

Everyone loves a warm summer day, and this year is no different. If anything, fun summer images represent relaxation and escape more than ever.

Social Distancing

Social Distancing - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Travelerpix.

Social distance is about keeping each other safe by giving each other space — the best way to ensure we could eventually be together again.


Delivery - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Hananeko_Studio.

Social distancing and stay-at-home rules brought us closer than ever to our neighbors who made sure we had what we need. Delivery has become the new way of life, and it has given us ways to support our communities when we can’t be there in person.


City - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Kelvin Degree.

Larger cities were the first to feel the effects of the pandemic, and the first to see their streets flooded by citizens seeking change. No matter the year, a skyscraper studded skyline has come to represent the hustle of modern life.


People - top Shutterstock image search
Image via Jacob Lund.

Today’s content, more than ever, is about people. Photos of people are essential to storytelling, helping audiences form emotional connections and always evolving the way we talk about the world.


Protests - top Shutterstock image search
Image via frikota.

People are finding their voices. In the streets and online, citizens, communities, and entire cities are standing up for what they believe and fighting for meaningful changes across the board.


Technology - top Shutterstock image search
Image via sdecoret.

At work, socially, even just passing the time, technology is what has kept us occupied, productive, and together this year. As our worlds becomes more connected, tech continues to be an indispensable part of our everyday.

Explore the Entire Collection

We’ve curated images that cover all of the above search terms in this 17th anniversary collection to make it easy for your to find assets that visualize the topics that have defined 2020 so far.

Thanks for 17 wonderful years — and thanks for letting us help you tell your story.