Adobe Stock Creative Trends

Posted on 12/6/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

We’re entering that period when stock agencies publish assessments of future creative trends for the coming year. Adobe has recently published its 2019 Creative Trend Report. Such reports are designed to provide image creators with the agency’s best guess as to the new types of imagery that may be needed.

Adobe has identified four very broad marketing themes for 2019. These are: 'Natural Instincts', 'Creative Democracy', 'Disruptive Expression' and 'Brand Stand'. While certain brands may decide to make increasing use of these concepts, in a variety of different ways, there may be a number of factors that make it very difficult for stock photographers to apply this knowledge to their shooting plans.

First, it is important to recognize that brands drive this change. Some brands, but not all, may decide to go in one of the directions outlined. Each brand will need a different type of imagery. Some brands may be selling soft drinks, others fashion or cosmetics and still others selling automobiles, farm equipment or home furnishing. Each will need a very different kind of imagery. But which will make a shift and which won’t? Many will decide to take a more traditional approach to marketing. A few may decide to move in these new directions.

Information in these reports is often more applicable to advertising agencies or corporate marketing directors than to image creators. These people must first sell the idea of a change in marketing strategy to the senior executives of the company. Some will be successful. Some won’t. Some companies will stick with their existing marketing strategy if that seems to be working effectively.

The individual photographer has no way of knowing which brands are considering a strategy adjustment or which image buyers will be successful in convincing the brands they represent to go with the ideas they recommend.

It is also worth noting that if a marketing director gets approval to move in a different direction chances are she will hire a photographer to produce exactly what she has in mind, rather than look for an existing stock image. Since this is a new direction for the company, it seems likely that the kind of images needed don’t currently exist in stock files anyway.

The photographer who goes out and tries to develop a totally new concept in a particular subject area without any guidance from an image buyer, or a commitment from his/her bosses that a particular brand is ready to make such a change, is taking a huge risk. The photographer may be able to produce the perfect image of the concept he/she has in his/her head and never be able to sell the overall concept to anyone.

Better to wait until the brand and the marketing director come up with and idea and buy into the concept. Then work with them to produce the image needed on assignment.

If Agencies Really Wanted To Help

If stock agencies really wanted to help their photographers produce more of what is likely to be needed they would make available a database of images that have been licensed. This database would be constantly updated showing the images that had been licensed, and the number of times, in the period – 3-months, 6-months, 12-months, and maybe for as long as they have been in the collection - prior to the search.

Such a database would help photographers be much more productive and use their time efficiently. It might not produce that one totally unique image that no one but the photographer had ever thought to shoot, but it would result in a much wider and better selection of images that customers regularly need and want to buy. I also believe it would generate more overall sales.

Most businesses track demand for their products and try to produce more of what customers want rather than products no one wants to buy. I think of General Motors which is closing auto plants because customers no longer want to buy the type of cars those plants are producing. Of course, GM must cover the production costs. They lose money if they continued to produce more cars no one wants. Stock agencies don’t have such costs. They can encourage their photographers to continue to produce more of everything they can think of, regardless of whether it ever sells, because the agency doesn’t have to absorb any of that production costs. It makes no difference to them how many of their photographers end up not earning enough to stay in business.

Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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