Stock Photography: What’s Selling in 2017?

Stock Photography Trends in 2017

A successful stock photography career revolves around anticipating trends. After all, photography is a business in addition to an art. When you sell to stock image websites, you need to meet the widest range of customer demand and know the stock photography trends of 2017.

If you have the right images available at the start of a new fad, and your photos match requirements as they develop, you’ll be able to get the most profit out of your work. These trends also guide future shoots. Many stock image websites require potential contributors to submit a certain number of acceptable images in a single portfolio before they’re approved for site membership.

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The best way to choose which photos to include is to figure out which images are already doing well for the site, and what they have in common. Trends offer invaluable insight.

We’ve put together a list of trending themes, designs, and websites for stock photography in 2017.

It’s designed to help photographers plan ahead. Learn what’s popular, what’s in demand, and where you can get the most for your work.

Subjects and Themes


Stock Photography Trends 2017: Nostalgia Photo

Nostalgia will always be part of the human experience, but it’s at the forefront of the world’s imagination in 2017. Everything from old fonts to images of colorful, rusting televisions is doing well on stock image sites. People seem to be craving the past.

Even the relatively recent past, most notably the 80s, has a distinctly different aesthetic from today’s sleek technology and instant access. Things like rotary phones have a visual charm that draws viewers.

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Mindfulness and Meditation

Stock Photography Trends 2017: Meditation
Stock Photography Trends 2017: Mindfulness & Meditation

As the world becomes more connected, many struggle with focus and presence of mind. This has brought practices like mindfulness to the forefront of public consciousness, and popular images reflect these ideas.

Balanced meditation images and photos conveying Zen concepts are extremely popular. These images have a clear focus and usually feature bright, clean lighting.

Technological Advances

Stock Photography Trends 2017: Technological Advances
Stock Photography Trends 2017: Technological Advances

While a lot of the nostalgic images discussed above have a lot to do with the public yearning for simpler times and technology, the opposite is also in vogue. We have entered what many call the fourth industrial revolution.

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In the past two decades, we’ve seen rapid technological advancement and the future promises even greater developments. As our reality catches up with the visions of science fiction from the past century, we’re all paying a lot more attention to the great tech at our fingertips.

Things like computers, cell phones, and virtual reality are trending. They suit more buyers’ image needs than ever before because these items are part of daily business and personal life.

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Social Issues and Diversity

Stock Photography Trends 2017: Social Issues
Stock Photography Trends 2017: Social Issues

Society and politics are also trending. Stock images about community concerns, the LGBTQ+ community, political protests, and everyday diversity are in high demand.

Businesses are looking for more images featuring professional people of color and women in leadership roles. Images from the previously discussed topics that also feature diverse subjects can reach multiple target markets.

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Stock Photography Trends 2017: Designs
Stock Photography Trends 2017: Designs

White texture and halftones are dominating the design field. White texture images are hugely popular on stock photography sites, as are images that pose a simple subject against a white texture background.

This may play into the desire for simplicity as part of the mindfulness theme discussed above. Halftones, which remind many viewers of traditional print shading techniques, could tie in with nostalgia. Both of these designs are very crisp and clean.

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Where to Sell

  • Dreamstime is one of the best paying stock image sites, and certainly one of the most searched, but it’s also one of the most selective. Their pay scale is based on exclusivity, so it may be worth dedicating a few images exclusively to Dreamstime to see how it performs compared to non-exclusive images. You could end up making more by submitting to fewer stock photo sites. The top of Dreamstime’s pay scale is dedicated not to exclusive images, but to exclusive photographers.
  • Although it doesn’t pay as much as Dreamstime, Shutterstock has lots of great resources for contributors. You can talk to other photographers for advice or use Shutterstock’s tutorial system to learn how to get the most out of their system. It’s a good place for developing photographers and professionals looking to educate themselves on the stock photography market.

It’s impossible to determine an individual customer’s needs before they make a request, but it’s easy to figure out what the bulk of users are looking for before they visit a stock image site. After all, most customers use stock images for public media like blogs, articles, advertisements, etc.

The trends stock image customers follow are the trends established by their own customers’ tastes. By getting ahead of these demands, you can provide work that will be profitable for both you and the site you team with.

Hopefully, our guide will help you plan your next shoot, organize your application portfolios, and find the right stock photo sites to work through.

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