Over the last two years, visual trends have been evolving faster than ever as major social changes impact consumer values and perspectives. Stock photographer Adaeze Okaro knows this firsthand, building her portfolio around portraits which capture the authenticity and intimacy of daily experiences.

There are many creatives like Adaeze now expressing their feelings and reactions to a quickly changing reality through their work. This kind of imagery has been resonating with a growing audience, appreciating and identifying with diverse and realistic representations of daily life. 

As new visual trends rapidly emerge, creatives and stock photographers are working harder than ever to ensure their work is relevant to the marketplace. So, what do these mean for the future of the stock industry? 

Photo by Adaeze Okaro

To understand how visual trends are evolving in response to societal events, Adobe Stock conducted research across consumer, creative and market sources, presenting a multitude of major industry campaigns from all sectors showcasing where stock and creative industries are headed.

The 2022 Creative Trends forecast released this January presented themes of connection, comfort and self-care significantly scaling across visual storytelling in all industries. Many of the 2022 trends reflected a growing appetite for authentic, meaningful connection and protection of our loved ones’ — and our own — well-being. Other themes rising in 2022 include the need for optimism in challenging times; consumer demand for greater sustainability; the appeal of dance and rhythmic movement in times of physical isolation; and the metaverse as the next terrain for connection and interaction.

The increasing appeal, then, of diverse and relatable imagery reflecting real-life moments and human connection makes perfect sense. Inclusive content across all asset types — from photos to videos, illustrations, templates and vectors — representing people across ages, cultures, ethnicities, body types, identities and abilities have seen an uptick in sales and demand as consumers engage with imagery that they can identify with.

The future of stock will be people-centric

If you ask any creative or photographer, they would never have predicted how quickly their work has evolved over the last few years. Changes coming to the visual landscape are largely uncertain, given how unexpectedly the events of the last two years have encroached on our work and everyday lives. But if there’s one thing that we can count on as visual fluency transforms, it’s that people will continue to be the focus — from all walks of life and corners of the world — with a greater prioritization of diversity and inclusivity. 

Today, creatives and photographers must operate with a “people-first” mindset, ensuring their work is inclusive of all people — shining a light on underrepresented communities and cultures that previously didn’t have a voice.

In the next few years, the stock industry will continue to evolve based on shifts in local and global cultures, making it imperative for creatives and photographers to keep track of demand around relevant and engaging visual topics and styles, continuously developing their work and business. 

What you can do to support the next generation of creatives

Photo by Adam Perez

Going forward, it is crucial for stock industry leaders to invest in educating the next generation of stock photographers by mentoring young talent from underrepresented communities interested in entering the field. Adobe Stock is committed to nurturing and sharing the work of artists from a diverse range of cultures, identities, ages, abilities and backgrounds.

The Adobe Stock Advocates program provides a means for imagery of the lives and experiences of diverse artists to be authentically depicted in visual imagery they create of their own communities. Don’t be afraid to tell your story and share it with the world — you never know how it could help someone else or change the world! 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Brenda Milis, the Principal of Creative Services and Visual Trends for Adobe Stock. As a photo industry veteran and experienced creative director, she leads the Creative Services group driving three key, interrelated activities: Servicing the visual needs of top enterprise clients; identifying visual trends; and curating content for global merchandising activities.