Try ten creative new trends for styling eco-friendly images of homes and show your clients what a better, greener world can look like.

When it comes to eco-harming habits, we’ve made great strides around the world. We have started reducing plastic waste (that is, until COVID-19 hit), choosing recycled and ethical fashion, and eating more plant-based foods. Now, we’re tackling the sustainability of our homes and how eco-friendly our homes really are. In today’s article, we’re visualizing what an eco-friendly home looks like through images on our marketplace. Explore these images to get ideas on what to shoot next in the movement towards sustainability, and the type of imagery you should be using as customers to document eco-friendly home movements. 

So what does a sustainable home really look like? And how, as stock photographers, do you create images that reflect the reality of green living? Keep these concepts in mind when planning your next sustainable focused shoot.

Bring the Outside In
Bring the outside in with these eco-friendly home ideas. Image by PhotoSunnyDays.

Trend #1: Depict Approachable Lifestyle Changes

When it comes to capturing images of eco-friendly homes, it’s not all LEED-certified buildings and solar panels. In reality, the shift to visualizing a more sustainable home is about tweaking everyday habits. That includes reducing water usage by taking shorter showers, washing clothes in cold water, or only running the dishwasher when full. Other simple actions like powering down tools at night and swapping energy-draining light bulbs for LED-efficient ones all add up to big changes. This can all be visualized in the types of environmentally-conscious imagery we create and share.

Depict Approachable Lifestyle Changes
There’s nothing better than fresh laundry. Image by Predrag Milosavljevic.

For many, creating a greener home can seem daunting and expensive. Images that capture these small but mighty actions help others to see these as approachable lifestyle changes—something we all can all take part in. 

Trend #2: Focus on Natural Materials in Homes

That bright, airy living room filled with tons of warm, natural wood? Who doesn’t want to live there? Adding natural materials to our home decor is not only an aesthetically pleasing choice but an eco-friendly one too. Wood, bamboo, granite, marble, brick, rattan, wicker, sisal, and jute—these natural materials strengthen our connection to nature and make us feel more grounded. To better embody a more natural essence in your images, use these materials to reflect the outside world inside your interiors.

Focus on Natural Material in Homes
Clay is a popular natural material to feature in imagery. Image by Korionov.

Trend #3: Surging in Popularity – Linen

We’ve all seen the Instagram ads for linen bedding, and they are popping up in popularity for a reason—natural fibers are (back) in. And for good reason: synthetic fabrics are huge pollutants for the Earth. Natural fibers break down over time while man-made ones do not. The microplastics present in synthetic fibers cloud our oceans while the chemicals used throughout the production process contaminate our drinking water.

Natural Fibers Surging in Popularity
Linen tablecloths, bedspreads, and towels are gaining popularity. Image by casanisa.

Biodegradable fabrics not only add appeal from an aesthetic standpoint but drastically minimize our environmental impact. Linen is a perfect example of sustainable material to integrate into eco-friendly home imagery. This highly sustainable and durable fabric is made from every part of the flax plant. Not only is it resilient (it can grow in poor soil) but it uses far less water consumption than even cotton.

Trend #4: Reducing Food Waste in Homes

Food waste contributes around eight to ten per cent of the world’s global emissions. By reducing our food waste, we can lessen our carbon footprint. So how do you capture images that reflect this? Showing subjects choosing oddly shaped fruit and vegetables (which are more likely to be thrown out), purchasing in-season produce, shopping at local grocers, farmers markets and farm stands, packaging up leftovers, and composting are all ways to visually show mindful food habits. 

Reducing Food Waste in Homes
Composting is a great way to visualize an eco-friendly home. Image by Anna Hoychuk.

Trend #5: Decluttering Homes 

We owe this trend to the “messiah of minimalism,” Marie Kondo. This concept of less is more is having a huge impact on our living spaces; through downsizing and decluttering, we’re KonMari’ing ourselves to a more intentional way of living. Images that show clear and clean spaces reinforce how simple sustainable homes can really be. 

Declutter Like Marie Kondo
Anytime is a good time to declutter. Image by Kostikova Natalia.

For stock images, this is best depicted in real, lived-in environments. While you can’t show commercially licensed brands in your images, you can show a bit of natural clutter to really embody a “real” home in your images. Customers want to see the real, the authentic. This trend is a perfect way to depict that. 

Trend #6: Natural Cleaners 

This is another easy one to document. These days natural cleaners are easier than ever to come by, whether they’ve been purchased from a grocery store or DIY’ed at home. Another great example of visual eco-friendly imagery that you can create with this is a flat lay of all the materials used to make your own cleaning supplies, such as aloe vera or lavender. 

Natural Cleaners
Make your own DIY cleaning solutions. Image by Andriana Syvanych.

Trend #7: Go Plastic-Free

Beeswax wrap in place of saran wrap, amber-colored glass soap dispensers, shampoo bars instead of shampoo bottles, wooden broom handles—keeping plastic out of the home is another environmentally conscious action in pursuit of a more sustainable home. Make sure to pay attention to the small details in your images by showing as little plastic as possible (and make sure you’re eliminating plastic from your shoot, too!)

Go Plastic-Free
Beeswax wraps are the new saran wraps. Image by FrimuFilms.

Trend #8: Biophilic Design and Plants

Biophilic design is about creating spaces that connect us to nature. Think of design elements like living walls, roof gardens, sunrooms, skylights, and spaces that transition from interior to exterior in a natural, fluid way. 

Living walls may be out of reach to some, but houseplants are not. They’re affordable, stylish, and provide wellness benefits—plants filter toxins out of the air and are shown to improve air quality. Photographing these urban jungles is another way to emphasize a greener lifestyle. 

Biophilic Design and Plants
Surrounded by plants is the best place to be. Image by AnnaTamila.

Any good sustainable home uses the outdoor space available to it. Patio gardens, edible balconies, garden boxes, and plant ledges all show how easy it is to green up our spaces or to grow our own food.

Trend #9: Tiny Homes

A small home is a sustainable one. A smaller house means fewer materials required to build, less space to heat, less surface area to cool, fewer rooms to clean, and less unnecessary furniture and items to fill it with. Big is not always better.

Tiny Homes
Less is more. Doesn’t this look picturesque? Image by ppa.

Trend #10: Solar Panels 

Renewable energy is on the rise, but fossil fuels still account for the majority of our global energy production. Solar panels make use of the single most sustainable resource we have: the sun. Solar energy is renewable, emission-free, relatively reliable, and increasingly more and more affordable. 

Solar Panels
Solar panels are only going to grow in popularity. Image by shellygraphy.

By making small changes and investing in eco-alternatives, we’re creating greener, cleaner living spaces for ourselves. Images that reflect this show the multitude of ways in which we as humans are choosing to lessen our impact on the Earth. And that’s a design trend that will never go out of style. 

Cover image by Followtheflow.

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