In our recent How to Succeed in Stock Photography guide, we talked about keeping up with industry trends. But how do you translate that information into your work? We talked to some of our top-selling contributors to find out how they incorporate aesthetic, technology, and pop-culture trends into the business of selling stock images. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Tracking Trends Data
Top-selling contributors are vigilant when it comes keeping up with the latest themes in media. Most are looking for insight on a daily basis, and there is no shortage of places to find inspiration. Social media, advertising, news organizations and retail can be great sources for passively absorbing visual trends— while media industry blogs and stock footage agency reports are great for highlighting popular content that is selling.
Wavebreak Media says, “We take our inspiration from just about everything—commercial and industrial trends to statistics within our sales to what we’ve seen on the high street and in popular culture.”
Jake Hellbach of JHDT Productions often goes after newsworthy events. “When the Ebola outbreak was the main topic of news stories, we planned how we could shoot content relevant to this in our studio,” he recalled. Although they were not able to be on location, they managed to incorporate related concepts into their work.
People and fashion can be a great source for lifestyle trends. The creative director of Pressmaster says the staff themselves can provide great inspiration. “We ourselves are part of modern society, and we are usually up to speed. We wear sweatshirts and have beards… and we definitely don’t start a day without a cup of fresh-brewed coffee from a craft coffee shop.”
Paying attention to how real people dress and live is a key to crafting authentic stock.
2. Applying Trends to Your Productions
Applying trends data you’ve collected to your production and shooting style is essential. For example, if your niche is nature images, all trends will not directly apply to your work but, you can pick up a visual trend like essentialism and capture it by focusing on simple, serene outdoor settings.
Mark Adams of Rocketclips shares, “There are huge trends that I don’t shoot, such as aerials. I’ve tried but my work just doesn’t look as good as other people’s. I stick to what works for me—what I enjoy and what I can make look good.”
Adams also highlights an important point about carefully determining which trends to follow, noting that it takes time to edit, tag, and begin to sell content from a shoot. “About 18-24 months after a shoot is when I begin to see significant sales.”
Some trends are fleeting and others represent a significant movement in popular culture—you want to ensure you’re selecting the right ones to invest in. After freshly produced content is available for sale, monitor its performance and assess what content proves to be a successful investment of time and resources. It’s a cycle that requires constant attention and tweaking.
3. Capitalizing on Trends
The big question remains: will incorporating trends into my work help improve my sales? The pros say yes. Wavebreak Media says, “Representing current trends in our productions make it more realistic, and the market is telling us that what consumers want. People are much more aware of staged photos being unrealistic representations of daily life and are looking for authenticity. Real imagery incorporating a trend can help tell the story of a brand and pulls a consumer in much more than the unachievable standards in staged photos.”
Contributors like Adams see a major payoff by following multiple trends. “Smart phones, casual business attire, healthy lifestyles, ethnic diversity… These are trending themes that have legs and will continue to sell enough to pay for the cost of shooting,” Adams says. Staying on top of trends is a proven method for Pressmaster, who says, “We really feel that shooting trending subjects and styles attracts large amounts of potential buyers. If we’ve managed to shoot a trending subject in a ‘tasty’ way it begins selling like hot cakes.”
The tried and true rule of stock media applies to trends as well—shoot what you know. Don’t get too hung up on capturing a trend if the subject is not in your repertoire. However, you should stay aware of the topical and aesthetic developments being made in the industry and know how you can adapt your work. Be mindful of what sells for you and where your opportunities lie to take your content to the next level.