If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the stories emerging from billions of images and how we interact with them.
That’s the impetus behind Getty Images’ annual Visual Trends report. Over 22 years, the Seattle-headquartered global visual content provider has honed a collaborative methodology to collect and analyze unique data sets from its customers and contributors to ascertain major visual trends each year.
“We’re at the point where creativity, technology, and data meet,” says Jacqueline Bourke, Getty Images’ London-based Senior Manager of Creative Insights and Planning. “Our creative insights team of visual anthropologists analyze one billion-plus customer searches and 400 million downloads on our website to see what stories and images they’re looking for. We also look at customer buying patterns on a weekly and monthly basis to gauge how they’re shifting through the year.”
This year’s trends are: Masculinity Undone, which rethinks male stereotypes and how they’re evolving. Second Renaissance, infusing time-honored classical art motifs with new perspectives and diversity. And Conceptual Realism, presenting ideas through more relatable and realistic images. Collectively, they celebrate topics like representation and inclusion, individuality, authenticity, and debunking stereotypes.
“The visual trends are a look at what’s been shaping our behavior and what will have an impact on communication in the coming year,” says Bourke.
Getty Images’ teams of creative researchers, art directors, and visual experts arrive at these annual trends by mining narratives and aesthetics from the art, fashion, advertising, and editorial industries, pop culture, contributor shooting trends, economics, technology, politics, as well as social media. The teams ask such questions as what visual stories do people want to tell, what are ongoing universal concepts and archetypes, and what visual language do they want to change? A variety of algorithms parse data into more nuanced interpretations and microtrends, many for customized workshops and consulting.
“It’s a combination of intelligence, data, and intuition,” says Bourke. “We’re brainstorming on a continual basis. The underlying drivers always come back to people in this moment in time, then visualizing it forward. We’re in a pivotal position to help guide photographers and creativity around the world, and making sure our images are diverse and responsible.”
Part of that responsibility comes with discovering and supporting nascent and underrepresented voices. Getty Images engages numerous initiatives—from sponsoring competitions and grants awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars to emerging talent expressing those views, to partnering with other companies to showcase them. The goal is to take a stand through the types of visuals Getty Images promotes—evidenced through the 2018 trends.
“We offer content strategy guidance to our quarter of a million contributing videographers, photographers, and illustrators,” says Bourke. “We’re interested in who’s in front of and who’s telling the stories behind the camera.
“Our database doesn’t exist anywhere else,” she adds. “It’s a combination of both chasing and driving trends, visual analysis and forecasting. What trends are looking like now, and which will take off. And while everybody can take an image, we want to champion and elevate the idea of photographic craft.”
Check out more about the trends at VisualTrends.GettyImages.com.