What Alamy customers searched for in 2016

E0AB2R Girl carrying butterfly net in spring meadows, Reykjavic, Iceland
Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo

For the last couple of years, January has seen me reviewing customer data from the previous 12 months; this year’s no exception and so I’ve been looking at what Alamy customers searched for in 2016.

If you’re new to Alamy then you might not know about Alamy Measures; a tool that tracks the search habits of a core set of customers by recording their searches, the number of images they looked at, images they clicked on and searches that result in sales in a single session (search, click, buy).

If you’re already a registered contributor you can find this tool along with more info on how to use it through your account Dashboard. If you’re not a registered Alamy contributor, then here’s why you should be.

I’ve concentrated on the top 100 Unique Customer Occurrences (UCO) which is a count of the amount of different customers that have used a specific search term.
NB: “# number” denotes it’s overall position (with #1 being the most searched and #100 the least).


HGG0FT Aerial cityscape view of London and the River Thames, England, United Kingdom
Engel Ching / Alamy Stock Photo

The most popular theme in the top 100 UCOs was travel destinations which highlights the depth and variety of images from Alamy contributors around the world and it’s popularity with our customers.

  • #3 – London
  • #11 – Paris
  • #12 – New York
  • #18 – London Skyline
  • #22 – Barcelona (&) India
  • #29 – Dubai
  • #30 – Venice
  • #33 – Edinburgh
  • #38 – Rome (&) San Francisco
  • #40 – Singapore (&) Great Barrier Reef

This seems to follow the same pattern as 2015, so some of the more iconic and possibly clichéd destinations are still in demand with only India moving up a few places.

There were also some more general searches for “Travel” (#13), “Landscapes” (#56) and if “Tim Peake” (#87) is reading this… “Earth From Space” (#60) and someone who possibly voted to leave the EU who searched: “UK OR Wales OR England OR Scotland OR ‘Northern Ireland’ OR Britain OR British OR ‘United Kingdom” (#89).

There were some less clichéd and more specific destinations that made a first appearance this year, but before you board a plane consider keeping your camera to hand as “Heathrow Airport” (#95) and “Manchester Airport” (#99) also featured.

Power to the people

H84RJA (161109) -- NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2016 (Xinhua) -- File photo taken on July 16, 2016 shows U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign event in New York, the United States. Donald Trump was projected by U.S. media on Nov. 9, 2016 to have won 270 electoral votes needed for presidency. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo

The next most popular subject of what Alamy customers searched for in 2016 was people; some famous, some more infamous, some alive, some who thanks to 2016’s celebrity cull are sadly no longer with us, along with many others from history and also from fiction.

  • #5 – Donald Trump
  • #6 – David Bowie
  • #20 – Marilyn Monroe
  • #26 – Muhammad Ali
  • #27 – Queen Elizabeth ii
  • #28 – Harry Potter
  • #37 – Bob Dylan
  • #38 – Hillary Clinton
  • #39 – Shakespeare
  • #44 – Theresa May

Something like life imitating art, Trump outdid Clinton charging up the ranks from #75 in 2015 to the #5 spot. He also takes the #2 spot for most images looked at and #1 spot for most zooms (customers looking at a larger version of the image). Again, a bit like life imitating art… everyone’s now taking a closer look at Trump for one reason or another.

It’s also sad to see Bowie taking a leap up the ranks for all the wrong reasons (along with a large number of other people who passed away in 2016) from #70 in 2015 up to #6.

Photographers not interested in the life of a paparazzi shouldn’t worry as customers are not just interested in celebs with searches for “Family” (#16), “Baby” (#34) and generally “People” (#59).

In the battle of the sexes “Woman” (#29) was more popular than “Man” (#54) but “Couple” (#67) came before “Love” and “Wedding” (both at #68) and then “Pregnant Woman” (#74). Seemingly customers looking for “Sex” is further in decline dropping from its #69 position in 2015 to #99 in 2016 (despite “Tinder” being at #94). Also at position #99 was “Park”, “Toilet”, “Marmite”, “Asparagus” and “Fracking” (draw your own conclusions).


CA61JC June 14, 2012, Tokyo, Japan - Bandais "SmartPet," a robot dog pet for iPhone or iPod users, is shown at at the Tokyo Toy Show on display at the Tokyo Toy Show on Thursday, June 14, 2012, in Tokyo. With the insertion of an iPhone or an iPod into the dock, the smartphone becomes the dogs he
Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

With the pace of change in the world of technology it’s always interesting to see what’s now trending with Alamy customers and how that’s changed over the course of 12 months. If anything the world of tech has been less popular with Alamy customers than 2015 with other searches coming higher, but this was still the third most popular theme.

Apple retain their top spot, but with their iPhone and not the iPad and they’re sharing the top spot with some “Artificial Intelligence” (#79)

  • #31 – iPhone (&) Robot
  • #32 – Facebook
  • #45 – Drone
  • #51 – iPad (&) Technology
  • #59 – Selfie (&) Twitter (&) Uber
  • #60 – Smartphone
  • #62 – Virtual Reality
  • #65 – Computer
  • #68 – Driverless Car
  • #70 – Social Media

I’m not sure if taking a selfie and posting it on Twitter was in the back of a Uber taxi or they’re unrelated, but the “Selfie Stick” that was at position #60 last year has fallen out of favour, not featuring at all in the top 100.

Interesting to see “Virtual Reality” and “Driverless Car” featuring in the top 10 for the first time and possibly worrying that “Drone” was also joint #45 with “World Map” and “Cuba”.

With all these specific searches, it does make me question what exactly are customers looking for when they search for generic “Technology”?


G0634P German shepherd dog in the driver seat. Dog steering a car. Attentive German shepherd at car wheel. Safe driving. Car security.
Photosebia / Alamy Stock Photo

The next popular theme was animals and there’s always a battle between these two at the top but this year it’s “Dog” that drives away with the trophy, with “Butterfly” and “Polar Bear” remaining unchanged from their 2015 positions.

  • #2 – Dog
  • #4 – Cat
  • #55 – Tiger (&) Horse
  • #61 – Butterfly
  • #63 – Polar Bear
  • #65 – Elephant
  • #71 – Cats
  • #73 – Fish
  • #76 – Wolf
  • #77 – Lion (&) Cow

Interestingly “Winnie The Pooh” (#81) was more popular than the “Blue Whale” (#85) and “Peter Rabbit” was just as popular as actual “Rabbit” both at #97. It also seems customers are still searching for the “Loch Ness Monster” (#94) and the “Unicorn” (#98).

Wine and dine

GDAD7T Background with lots of green apples
Rostyslav Zabolotnyi / Alamy Stock Photo

I’m a big fan of Foodporn and so it’s good to see there’s a healthy amount of searches for food and drink, despite the majority of top searches being far from healthy. With the exception of the top search for generic “Food” (#19) and “Apple” (#21) it’s not surprising that also featured is “Diabetes” (#97) and “Obesity” (#99) but these two are separated by “Exercise” (#97).

  • #21 – Apple
  • #35 – Coffee
  • #53 – Wine
  • #54 – Chocolate
  • #58 – Champagne
  • #59 – Pizza
  • #69 – Beer
  • #72 – Tea
  • #73 – Cake
  • #77 – Ice Cream

Highlighting how the above reads like my shopping list, just outside the top searches at joint #79 was “Cocktail”, “Sugar” and “Supermarket”.

One new entry for 2016 that didn’t feature at all in 2015 I’m in no doubt owes it’s increase in searches due to it’s decrease in size and that’s “Toblerone” (#98).


There’s over two million rows of Alamy Measures data detailing the specifics of what customers searched for in 2016. I’ve highlighted a few areas that interest me (and hopefully make for an informative/amusing read) but if you have some spare time then take a look at the All of Alamy data and narrow it down to themes that you’re interested in.

You can also check the performance of your own collection in the Your Images section which can be a useful tool for analysing your keywording.

There are some iconic locations and standard themes of imagery that will feature year on year, but this amount of data highlights the breadth and depth of imagery that Alamy customers need. They’re still searching for “Pokémon” (#57), “Isis” (#77) and want “Diversity” (#88). What they will search for in the “Future” (#102) is unclear as “History and Historical and Archive” rose from position #30 in 2015 to #10 in 2016. And who could’ve predicted a made up word would feature as high as number #8…. “Brexit”?

Keep shooting, keep uploading and keep keywording (even if it’s a made up word… that’s still relevant) because it’s clear Alamy have customers who’ll keep searching for that one image that is exactly what they need.

Handshake (#91) to the customer who in one session looked at over 30,000 images trying to find the perfect image of “Family Eating NOT Restaurant NOT Animal NOT Asia NOT Popcorn NOT Africa” and the other who viewed over 19,000 images of “Man Naked” trying to find the perfect specimen.

If you’re looking for inspiration for 2017 then you might want to read the Stock photo requests for January 2017 and the predicted Trends for 2017



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