The stock imagery brands, business owners and publishers use to populate their websites provide some helpful insights into the way the overall consciousness of a society is changing over time. As noted in a series of articles published on the Getty Images website last year, publishers and brands are starting to shift away from the stereotypical images that have until now typified what advertisers had constructed as perfection.
The investigation into visual trends found that women were increasingly represented in positions of power, same-sex relationships were sometimes used in lieu of straight imagery, older people were appearing with greater regularity and beauty was being given a more flexible definition.
Interestingly, the top 20 Getty images that have been downloaded by Kiwis since the beginning of the year also indicate that these international trends are starting to take shape in New Zealand. However, trends don't emerge instantaneously, and this means there were still some more conventional images included on the final list.
This most pronounced in several business-oriented images that featured men in positions of power, while women were altogether absent. In total, there were three images in the top 20 that fell into this more traditional mould.
(All images sourced from Getty Images)
In contrast to this trio, there were six images that focused on women, depicting them as strong and fiercely independent.
"The trend of ‘Female Rising’ ranks highly within the top sellers for New Zealand, further strengthened by the rise of female empowerment in all spheres of life—be it political, business or pop culture," says a Getty Images spokesperson. "Seen here through images of women in leading business roles, depicted as authentic, strong and comfortable in their own skin."
The shift away from conventional imagery was also reflected in a pair of images that hinted that being older doesn't necessarily imply the end of one's life. In one image a Clooney-esque grey-haired man uses a smartphone, while wearing a business suit, illustrating that he is both in touch with technology and comfortable running a business. In the other image an even older man, sits on a jetty and teaches a young child to fish.
"In the age of social media and user-generated imagery, people now want visual content that speaks to them personally -- images which depict real, candid moments of everyday life," says the spokesperson. "Authentic imagery allows brands to garner emotional connections with the audience, seen through imagery in the top sellers that use real, diverse and relatable people."
In addition to presenting real, relatable people, the imagery on a website also plays a role in relaying the brand's story to the consumer.
"Storytelling allows marketers and brands to tell engaging stories in authentic and entertaining ways. Ways that give potential customers a positive association with the brand, particularly in highly competitive markets."
A storytelling aspect could be attributed to any of the images in the top 20, but there are two images that capture this idea most tangibly. The first features a young boy as a an aspiring astronaut, while the second draws attention to a man in a crowd who decides to do something only slightly differently. These images go beyond the individuals depicted to make statements about personal objectives and individuality.
And while the humans on display play a significant role, the technology that results in the image is also becoming increasingly important in telling brand stories.
"Capturing the personal/first-person perspective allows the viewer to be transported from their screen to a far-off destination or scene," says Getty's spokesperson. "Offering brands that much sought-after fresh and authentic approach to connecting with a consumer. The advent of technological innovations such as the GoPro and Oculus Rift has edged in the ‘First Person Perspective’ imagery which is becoming increasingly present in the zeitgeist of advertising and media landscape. Images such as the motorcycle ride, where we see the viewer being transported, allow audiences to interpret their own narrative."
Developing alongside these technological advancements are new methodologies in the way photographers capture images. And the spokesperson says that these modern artworks are resonating with both brands and consumers.
"Tapping into our ‘Super Sensory’ trend, dynamic colours offers an antidote for consumers who are constantly viewing images on their screens, enabling brands to shock the viewer’s system, interrupting them with vibrancy, colour pop and unexpected moments. Henrik Sorensen’s appearance in the top sellers is evidence of how using multi-coloured clouds and steam help to show the prowess of modern screen technology."