No doubt about it, successful stock photographers keep an eye on current trends. It’s the best way to keep your portfolios fresh and shoot what is most likely to sell.

That’s why we publish our annual Breakfast Stock Club “Hot Stock Photo Trends” guide at the beginning of every year. We look at what’s currently trending in the industry and what’s likely to keep going strong in the year ahead.

Get a copy of the 2017 Hot Stock Photo Trends guide for free when you try out Breakfast Stock Club Premium membership here.

One trend that’s more of an industry-wide change is authenticity. Photo buyers want images that seem real and believable.

This is a big change from how the stock photo industry used to be. The days of cheesy, overly posed or contrived images are over. Although there’s still plenty of these types of shots for sale on stock sites, photo buyers have mostly moved on.

At this point, it’s safe to say that authenticity is becoming a standard for stock images.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes (and doesn’t make), an authentic image.

What doesn’t work anymore:

  • Expressions that seem fake or unnatural. Notice in the photos below, how the model’s expressions seem forced and overly exaggerated.
  • Contrived poses. Awkwardly holding props or “posing” in front of the camera is a sure giveaway that the image is set-up.
  • Overly styled scenes. If clothing, furniture, and décor all seem a little too perfect it can make the whole image feel less believable.
  • Sterile lighting. Putting models on backdrops and using artificial light to create special effects used to be very popular. This look is in much less demand these days.

examples of the old style of stock photography

What DOES work:

  • Relaxed, realistic expressions. Capturing people as they are, with expressions that seem to make sense for the scenario is the way to go.
  • Real people. Stock libraries are filled with images of “perfect” models that have been heavily Photoshopped. Buyers are looking for images of real people these days.
  • Natural lighting. Soft window light is always a winner.
  • Real life settings. There’s no need to overly style a scene. Buyers are looking for settings that seem true to life, even if they aren’t perfect.

Examples of stock photos with an authentic style

An authentic aesthetic is something to strive for as you create stock images. Try to capture “slice of life” type of moments that are believable for the viewer.

The good news is that it’s actually way easier to make these images than it is to fake it in a studio. There’s no need to create elaborate sets or find the “perfect” model. It’s just a matter of coming at it with a slightly different mindset.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]

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