Fotolia has unveiled its top five bestselling photos and illustrations around the world and in the USA, and met with Cédric Erard, cultural coach and semio-rhetoric expert, to find out more about these global and local cultural trends and learn more about what these best-selling images represent.

“More than images” says expert Cédric Erard

Data shows that happy people are still at the top of people’s microstock lists – the world’s bestselling image is an image of a happy woman enjoying the sun in a field of flowers. Close behind are common themes such as childhood, education, travel, and network technologies, with a young boy with a flashing light bulb by his head as the second most downloaded photo, and a beautiful tropical beach as third most downloaded image.

Beautiful girl enjoying the summer sun

Beautiful girl enjoying the summer sun

Despite their seemingly innocent and random look, these photos give us insight into our global society, because they are representative of certain aspects of the collective subconscious. Generally selected instinctively to speak to the largest amount of people possible, they represent common ideals within our society. Because they are widely disseminated, they also continue to feed and shape these ideals, which is why they reveal to us this collective subconscious as much as they feed it.

Diversity and creativity spearhead trends

In ten years, Fotolia has become a world leader in microstock, especially in Europe. Fotolia owes its success, in part to its 200,000 contributors spread across 150 different countries.

Today, Fotolia is one of the world’s largest and the most diversified creative microstock agencies, offering over 27 million files, a 20% increase since 2012, a development largely driven by growing markets in emerging economies such as South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa, and their growing demand for images.

“Great photographers and artists from around the globe upload their images to Fotolia because they know we offer their content across every continent,” commented Oleg Tscheltzoff, CEO and co-founder of Fotolia. ”Thanks to Fotolia’s continuous expansion to new markets, our portfolio is extremely diversified, containing photos for all visual needs and regional or local specifications. This variety is well reflected by the compilation of our bestselling images in the recent year and underlines Fotolia’s strategy to provide the world’s local imagery.”

Wood background

Wood background

Cheerful smiling child at the blackboard.

Cheerful smiling child at the blackboard.

Over 4.6 million members download approximately 1.5 million images per month. Among them, large publishers, companies, and creative agencies, as well as smaller enterprises and private users. Fotolia’s visual content is used in newspapers, magazines, advertisements, and on websites around the world.

US top sellers follow global trends, with crossover between national bestsellers and global bestsellers, showing a clear correlation between US preferences and global tastes, especially conceptual images. The most downloaded photo for the US is also the global top seller,  the happy woman in a field of flowers.

Second most downloaded image is a blue sky with clouds representing a variety of concepts like freedom, happiness, relaxation, nature, etc.

The third most downloaded image for the US, also happens to be the fifth most downloaded image globally, the wooden background.

Just as with global downloads, the fourth and fifth most downloaded images for the US represent conceptual categories related to networking, social media, the internet, and technology.