Survey says more brands are looking for diverse images with non-pro models

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Gone are the days of men in business suits on white backgrounds — a recent survey suggests brands are looking to add more diversity into their images, a trend likely influenced by social media. The survey, conducted by Shutterstock, supports an ongoing trend swaying from the traditional stock photography into images that are both more diverse and modern.

In the survey, conducted among marketing professionals, 41 percent from the U.S. say that using images that represent modern society is important. As a result, more businesses are looking for marketing photos that fall into different categories.

For example, 57 percent of U.S. marketing professionals are now looking for photos that use non-professional models. Nearly 34 percent are using more images with racial diversity and 24 percent with more females.

About ten percent of respondents from the U.S. said they are using more images with same-sex couples, compared to about 12 percent using more photos with what’s considered to be a more “traditional” family. From those results, however, more than half (65 percent) of marketers using non-traditional families say the decision is in order to better represent modern society.

“We are pleased to learn from the research that marketers in the U.S. are making a conscious effort to be more inclusive with their choice of imagery showing non-traditional families and non-professional models,” Robyn Lange, Shutterstock Curator, said. “It’s clear that societal changes combined with shifting attitudes are influencing the demand for more modern imagery that represents a diverse range of communities.”

The survey also included marketing professionals in the U.K. and Australia, with around 500 survey participants from each country. In those three areas combined, marketers agreed that the industry could benefit from using more diverse images, with over 90 percent of respondents from each country agreeing with the statement.

For photographers, the Shutterstock survey supports data from additional stock photography companies suggesting a rise in authentic images that more closely resemble real life. That trend, however, is being mixed with creativity in a number of other trends. For example, images that include texture, a sense of solitude and techniques that mix creativity with reality, like double exposures and infrared. By learning what brands are looking for, photographers working in a commercial space can better position their work for acceptance with a brand.

“Our research shows that globally, marketers are shifting their attitudes and selecting images, primarily to represent modern day society,” Lange said. “Marketers are also recognizing that choosing images that are relatable to diverse groups benefits their brand’s reputation. Striking a chord with consumers is no longer about serving them images of perfection, as social media has helped to change how people view images. Consumers prefer images that accurately portray the world around them, as opposed to a perfected version of the world offered by marketers.”