“Family” is the most basic form of a social unit. Beyond that, family is –for most people– where their heart is. Family portraits have always been a common presence in marketing strategies, for this very reason.
Even more so today, with the worldwide pandemic sending everyone back to their homes and putting family life at the stage front, family stock images are a very sought-after genre in stock photography.
But what constitutes a family stock photo today? What should they portray in order to be effective, marketing-wise? And where can they be found?
All these questions are answered below!
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The main thing to know when selecting family photos from an image bank is that the “stocky”, cheesy-looking images of young families, straight Caucasian couples with kids grinning stiffly in the living room of a way-too-spotless new home, are a thing of the past. You should also refrain from images that reflect a “traditional” family role distribution where the mother cooks and the father goes to work.
That mold doesn’t shape today’s typical family anymore, and valuable stock photos are the ones that break from it.
Happy families are still a staple in visual marketing and storytelling –all the more in social media–, but the concepts and perspectives on it have changed. A happy African American family enjoying a Sunday roast, or a Hispanic family in a colorful family gathering would be better, more diverse options.
So, what family images do we want? Modern ones!
- Families from multiple ethnicities and cultural backgrounds – biracial or mixed-race families are also important to represent
- Visualize everyone, including senior family members and all the extended family. And don’t forget about the furry companions: dogs, cats, and even exotic pets that are part of the home.
- Non-traditional family units, such as single parents and LGBTQ parents. But not forgetting those that linger between traditional and non-traditional: working moms, stay-at-home dads, adoptive and/or assembled families
We covered subjects, now let’s talk about style. Dated stock photos are easily identifiable due to their overall aesthetics: the typical “stocky” image is picture-perfect in an unrealistic, overly-produced sense. Stiff poses, exaggerated facial expressions with emotions that seem uncalled-for in context, and models with a standard beauty. Well, toss that!
Authentic photography is the new normal. The predominant style today –and a staple in visual trends for years– is one that looks as natural and casual as possible. This doesn’t mean photos cannot be carefully produced, just that they appear to be spontaneous, like real-life moments captured by chance.
What are the best authentic family shots? It’s not rocket science:
- Images that display raw emotions: we want to see close ups of people laughing, crying, being silly, being focused, being human, and more important, interacting with one another
- A non-produced style is best in most cases, meaning costume, makeup, set/background and props should not be over-the-top, but simply highlight the subjects’ natural assets and help set up the intention of the scene, something like a selfie, but more professional
- Unconventional beauty is very desirable, as real families aren’t always made up of people who fell off a fashion runway.
By far the most current theme to appear in family images is that of inclusion. We already talked about this above, but it’s worth talking about it a bit more in-depth.
Several social movements that have taken over public forums worldwide have also made an impact on family stock images. Women empowerment is a big one: departing from the ecstatically smiling housewife in favor of pictures that show women balancing careers and family.
Disability is another very important point. Modern stock photography thrives to represent disabled people in an accurate, positive way. In the context of family photos, we want to see people with disabilities being fully integrated into family units, and having active roles in the scenes that develop.
This is a list of the best providers of modern, authentic, and inclusive, royalty-free family images:
Photocase, a German stock photo agency, is famous for offering nothing but very artistic, non-stock stock photos, and that includes family-themed pictures. The images that accompany this article are all from Photocase!
Stockphotos.com is a stock photo agency oriented to small and medium-sized businesses that offers professional stock images with great commercial value at very affordable prices. Family imagery is very popular in our outlet!
Shutterstock is a leading stock photo agency, and its mammoth catalog overflows with photos that are ready to jump from their site onto your advert. The uber-commercial style of their photos incorporate the modern, authentic-like aesthetic very cleverly.
iStock is a renowned stock photo site –backed up by Getty Images– that excels with a divided offer that has budget images as well as exclusive, high-end pictures. The latter has a higher artistic value.
Adobe Stock (Trendy)
Adobe Stock is none other than Adobe’s very own stock photo service, that also fully integrates into Creative Cloud. This library takes visual trends very seriously, so you can easily find the most sought-after topics and styles here.
Marketing spreads across many mediums, from physical to digital. And each of them has its own best practices when it comes to images. Need to use family-themed photos on different platforms? Then check out:
- How to do branding with stock photos – Master visual branding for families
- Secrets of the best images for landing pages – Learn how to select and use the perfect family stock photos for your web page
- Photos for social media – Complete guide to rock visual marketing on social networks
- Best photos for Instagram – Everything you need to know about Instagram-worthy family photos
- Effective newsletter images – Tips to find and cleverly use family images in newsletters
- Best images for marketing – A tell-all guide for effective visual marketing, from adverts to in-store decor
- Stationery design resources – Images and graphic templates to simplify the creation of custom stationery for your business
Whether it is ads to run on different online platforms, visual posts for your social media channels or even decor for your brick-and-mortar shop, if you need photos of families, these are the ones that will do the trick.
Visiting any of the above-listed agencies and focusing on all the tips we gave you, you cannot miss the mark with modern, in-the-now family images!
Header image: Copyright by Sandra Martens/Photocase.com, all rights reserved