With over millions of images and video files readily available for licensing, knowing what visuals to choose for marketing, advertising or branding campaigns can be overwhelming when posed with such a vast selection of choices. The importance of staying contemporary and portraying a modern aesthetic is extremely critical.

Based on data collected in 2015 using keyword searches, downloads and assets uploaded from our contributors globally, Scott Braut, Head of Content at Adobe Stock and Fotolia has assembled the projections for trends to look out for and to keep in mind when choosing the most impactful images in 2016.

Tech Turns Cool

The appearance of young, tech persona in imagery is on the rise. With the popularity of tech culture (HBO’s successful “Silicon Valley” TV show as a prime example) and gadgets like virtual reality headsets and hoverboards in the mainstream, the tech industry and those in it are becoming more sought after. The next generation is learning to code and jobs in the tech landscape are desirable, replacing previous connotations that the industry is filled with hooded hackers hunching over laptops.

Cardboard virtual reality

Rise of New Aesthetics

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an affinity for all things “hipster” – cappuccino art, bowties and suspenders, handlebar mustaches, 1950s tea dresses, black and white filters. Hipster aesthetic has been a mecca for brands and still remains popular, but new ones are on the rise. Brands should keep their eye out for new aesthetics representing the aspirations of the young urban creative.

Teamwork. Three young architects working on a project

New Perspective Portrait

The smartphone profoundly transformed not only the way people interact with cameras but the way we photograph ourselves. A new visual language arose with the “selfie” though we may be seeing a shift towards perspective portraits. Perspective portraits offer a more intricate take on a subject than the standard selfie, giving the impression that you are not looking at a photo, but are instead alongside the subject and part of the scene itself.

Young Black Man with Digital Tablet in a Cafe

Color Consistency

Ever year brings predictions for what will be the most popular color. Pantone released two colors of the year – Rose Quartz and Serenity – and many trend reporters are heralding white as ‘the’ color for 2016 (a sharp contrast from Behance’s announcement that red was their most popular hue of 2015).

In stock imagery, brands generally have a consolidated color scheme that already exists. Therefore, our outlook for color in 2016 is envisioned around how we will use color instead. Consistent, bold, color saturated images ensure an image will stand out amongst others, increasing a brand’s positioning whether that be white for calmness, pink for youthful appeal or green for sustainability.

Marienplatz underground station in Munich, Germany

High-Impact Aerial

As technological innovations increase our ability to explore more of Earth and afar, so too does the technology to photograph in stunning detail previously unchartered sights. Whereas drones were previously costly, high-tech photographic equipment, they’re now readily available for all photographers to take to the skies and capture bird’s eye view panoramas.

Additionally, scenic backgrounds have always been a popular search result for users; they can be applied toward a multitude of projects, appealing to a wide range of people. What we will see more of in 2016, however, is the geographical locations captured.

Aerial-view highway junction at night in Tokyo, Japan

Current Affairs

We devour news and content on an hourly basis thanks to social media’s hold on our lives, and companies therefore need to stay on top of current affairs. As the world changes, audiences want brands to share similar values and expect companies to take stances and demonstrate support for causes. For example, in June 2015, when same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States, we saw an increase of rainbow filters and rainbow flags on social media.

LGBT rainbow lock

Low Poly Style

Minimalism will remain a trend year after year, but in variations. This year’s minimalism will be low poly style. The simplicity and cut of this graphic style will increase to become a winning formula in 2016. When used in backgrounds, the style makes for a voguish, cutting edge aesthetic particularly when composed with strong, offset colors.

Grey cat with orange eyes - polygonal style.