How to Break Stereotypes with the Latest Visual Trends


One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing the same model in every stock photo on someone’s site or marketing materials – or worse, social media. I unfollow instantly. I feel bad for this lady, I’m sure she is great, has a bubbly personality and made a lot of money by always being picked for her racial and age ambiguity, but enough already.

I attended a Getty Images 2018 Visual Trends Webinar to learn more about how to get the content we need for our clients when a shoot is not in the budget or timeline. It’s all about the keywords. No more searching by “Woman, 30s, smiling, isolated”. Getty, along with other stock sites are changing the visual language, and I graciously thank them.

They have signed a broader community of contributors that include emerging photographers that are female, of color and younger. This is helping the media show faces you wouldn’t typically see in an ad. Some trends they talked about are new photographic techniques in portraits using art history as inspiration to redefine the past, breaking stereotypes and making people feel something, not just a picking a pretty picture for a longer-lasting impression. For some examples, try searching with these terms.

Keyword searches:

  • Second Renaissance
  • Vintage Portrait
  • Gen Z Portrait
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Retro Portrait
  • Conceptual Realism/Unexpected Reality
  • Concept Quirky
  • Shot on mobile
  • Offbeat

Another site many are familiar with that is shaking things up is Shutterstock. They launched a program called Shutterstock Custom. Working with a lot of consumer product goods, I instantly was drawn to this concept and reached out to a rep for more information. In a nutshell, you are basically hiring a photographer without having your entire creative team and client be at a studio for 3 days and incurring those costs. It’s a lot like having an influencer shoot your product in their environment, but you get more content.

You start by sending your brand guidelines and a brief. Example: We want a lifestyle shoot with 3 diverse models between the ages of 25-35 cooking and eating Genova® Tuna in the kitchen. Our Shutterstock Custom Rep. would send us examples of the photographers/videographers they recommend for our brand per our brief/brand style and we would receive the images within a few weeks. If planned out per season and quarterly budget, you could have a year supply of content, with all rights owned, for print and web for the year at a lower cost and less footwork. The only thing that makes me nervous about this is trying them out. You need to sign a contract for the 1 client for the entire year at a set cost. Without using the system before – I would see agreeing to $40,000* for the year without any guarantees be difficult to sell to the client. I will be in further talks with our rep to address these questions and concerns so if it is a good fit for one of our clients – we can offer it as an option.

*This is not the actual cost, this is an example. It sounds like the base cost is $25k and goes up from there depending on the briefs.