The Evolution of Stock Photography
Where it all began
Stock photography has come a long way since the 1920s, when the first stock library was formed by H. Armstrong Roberts. From the Hulton Archive in 1945, to CD Collections, to the current online libraries, not only has the way we source stock imagery transformed, but the images themselves have evolved to suit the growing demand for quality photography.
A vital part of any designer’s toolkit, stock photography has always been essential. However, for many, the term has also been synonymous with staged moments, false smiles, clichés and stark white backgrounds. With the advent of the internet being succeeded by online magazines, advertising, blogs and social media, the need for easily accessible and quality photography has increased exponentially. Today’s collections are transforming to help designers and digital artists create beautiful work faster and more painlessly than ever before.
How stock is used now
With designers and businesses having access to imagery at their fingertips, content is being created at an increasingly high velocity. 1.3 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook alone every minute of every day, reflecting how the delivery of content has reached previously unimagined speeds. With more and more content being created across multiple platforms, stock photography has helped modern designers keep up with the pace and still maintain creativity with their work.
Let’s take a look at how modern consumers are engaging with content online:
- 83% of global consumers report that they use two or more devices simultaneously
- Under time constraints, 59% of global consumers crave beautiful design over simplicity
The use of multiple devices means there are more considerations to be taken into account when designing; Adobe Stock offers an extensive library of striking images that will catch one’s eye – even in our content-saturated world. With increasing pressure for designers to work quickly across multiple channels and to a competitively high-standard, online stock libraries are revolutionising the process and productivity of content creation.
Innovative Stock Libraries
When online stock libraries first came about, the options were limited and the process of finding an authentic, adaptable image was tedious (think scrolling through hundreds of posed office meetings, white-toothed women and men shaking hands).
The most innovative and savvy image providers understand that staged, cliché photos no longer fit the bill. As trends in photography and image consumption have evolved, stock libraries must follow suit by bridging the gap between artistic and commercial value.
In a changing world of aesthetics, stock is a powerful option for photographers who want to create a signature style and contribute to spreading inspirational imagery across the world. With the majority of designers looking to stock libraries for answers, professional photographers are using stock to their advantage; the inspiring creativity and experimentation is the reason why stock today is so versatile- bringing beauty and innovation through images into the mainstream day-to-day.
One way designers are embracing stock is to take an image and make it their own. When going through this process, there are three key pieces of advice for designers that can help creatives work to their full potential: be open to serendipity; create original work; remove distractions. Read more about how to make the most of stock in our full report.
However, before this can be done, first the biggest challenge in using stock imagery has to be faced: the limitations of keyword searches. The translation between an image and keyword language can create a gulf of understanding and return ineffective search results. By integrating with Creative Cloud, the process is being transformed by Adobe Stock to make a move away from the constraints of keywords by offering an innovative Visual Search tool, using machine learning to return similar visual options from image uploads. Powered by Adobe Sensei AI, futuristic Aesthetic Filters have revolutionised how designers efficiently refine search results – read more about new features in our blog post.
From cliché to mission critical
With over 60 million curated photos and growing, the integration of Adobe Stock with Creative Cloud applications optimises the design experience by seamlessly working alongside Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, making the process up to 10 times more efficient.
Taking this one step further, Adobe Stock for Enterprise empowers creative teams with all the tools they need to collaborate and streamline their work, providing unwatermarked comps, centrally managed assets, content usage trackers and more. The image library is created not only by individual photographers, but also through major content partnerships. Some of the latest partners contributing to Adobe Stock include:
- Reuters, the world’s largest multimedia news provider, have created a collection of over 12 million editorial images.
- USA TODAY Sports has built a collection covering more than 10,000 sporting events that will produce 500,000 images annually.
- Stocksy have formed an exclusive partnership that will help to expand the Adobe Stock premium collection with highly curated, unique photography specifically for digital storytellers.
With stock photography on a path of transformation, embracing new waves of creativity and experimental aesthetics, online stock libraries have risen to the challenge and caught up with the needs of the modern designer.
More requests than ever are being made for high-end, artistic photography from stock images, and the industry has responded with a solution; providing easily accessible, affordable and beautiful photography with a breadth of choice and visual search to fulfil specific needs.
Stock photography seems set to continue its evolution, bringing breathtaking imagery to our daily lives around the world.