Enterline Design / Alamy Stock Photo

2016 stock photography trends

Find out what you should be taking photos of in 2016…

Yes, it’s that time again. We’re already nearly one month down with a whole new year ahead of us so it’s time to start thinking about what we should be taking photos of.

Although it’s obviously important to keep an eye on photography technique, design and composition trends, the beauty of stock photography is that it’s primarily concerned with conveying the world around us. This means that what’s on trend for the world is on trend for us, and we can delve into a whole bunch of inspirational themes and focus our attention on creating imagery that relates. So for stock photography, we should be thinking slightly less about “what’s trending in photography?” and more about “what’s trending around us?”

Last year I covered three main areas and I think it will be good to focus our attention in the same way this year. It will hopefully give you some insight but won’t be exhaustive, so as ever it’s important you do some extra reading around what different publications, companies and think tanks have to say. TrendWatching is a great place to start and for a more detailed look focusing on digital trends, the articles posted up by The Richards Group are very illuminating. The Guardian takes a more “news angle” look at what will happen this year and Fjord focus their trend ideas around the four key areas of Design, Business, Government and Society.

But what if you haven’t got the time to read around all of this? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a round-up of some key areas where you should be focussing your stock photography efforts for 2016? Well, funny you should say that because here it is:


Young man with virtual reality glasses

Always a strong subject for stock, technology trends are exciting to research because they move at such a fast pace. This also means there is a constant need for refreshed technology themed stock photography. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is really on the rise, more so than ever before, but not in a Terminator, end of the world type way. Think of the positive AI benefits that will make our lives easier in today’s increasingly busy lifestyle. We’re now used to asking our phones questions and we’re in an era where we can get our inbox to write our email replies for us.

Also this might, really, be the year where Virtual Reality (VR) arrives to the masses. Sony, Oculus, HTC and Samsung are all introducing consumer level VR headsets in 2016 and early impressions look good. Think of the possibilities of this away from just gaming and it gets even more exciting. Business meetings and interactions will start happening within a computer generated virtual space – webcam services are going to look very old fashioned all of a sudden.

Shoot ideas for technology:

  • People interacting with the latest mobile technology
  • Virtual Reality headsets being used in the home or purchased at the store
  • Technology being used for design (tablets, augmented reality)
  • Don’t limit imagery to youth subjects. Show a wide range ages interacting with modern technology

Lifestyle and food

Selection of Scandinavian open sandwiches
© Magdalena Bujak / Alamy Stock Photo

Healthy is the new wealthy and data is the newest fitness accessory. We’ve now got health self monitoring for the masses via technology like Fitbit, Jawbone and Misfit which all form part of the “digital mesh” between devices, web services and apps. Healthy foods and ‘clean eating’ dominate lifestyle blogs and magazines everywhere and people are looking after themselves in order to take preventative measures against future health problems. People continue to be more and more interested in Nordic food as well as healthier forms of street food away from the now ubiquitous “dirty burger“.

Shoot ideas for lifestyle and food:

  • People of all ages using fitness technology
  • Healthy food with trending ingredients like cacao, kimchi and plant based dishes
  • Nordic cuisine
  • Images that depict ‘clean living’ and well-being in a ‘real life’ way


November 7, 2012, New York, NY, US. Crowd in Times Square awaits President Barack Obama's re-election victory speech to be played on giant TV screens.
© Joseph Reid / Alamy Stock Photo

We’re living in a “Post Snowden” era and this, coupled with a wide scale of worldwide conflict, means that online privacy and all round security is at the forefront of our minds. Britain’s potential ‘Brexit’ from the EU will be a talking point that will pale in comparison to the upcoming US election. Equality, rights and fairness will be a strong talking point throughout the year continuing the progress that was made through 2015.

Shoot ideas for society:

  • Equality in the workplace, e.g female bosses and businesswomen of a range of ages, body shapes, and ethnicity
  • Disabled people in the workplace shown positively, not ‘struggling’
  • US citizens getting involved in the election, campaigning, rallying, protesting
  • Conceptual images to depict online security and privacy

I hope these themes get you thinking about what you can do with your stock photography in 2016. As always, despite the volume of images already available, there are countless opportunities to produce new content and build upon, improve and update what’s already out there. The themes outlined here are hot off the press and just waiting for you to exploit – what are you waiting for?!

A photographer, digital media degree holder and part of the Alamy Content team for 15 years. James has a strong interest in all things visual and is our Head of Content.