Everypixel, an AI-powered stock image search engine where you can search multiple agencies at once, is out with their latest stock photo color trends report, and the data is very interesting!
Using algorithms to determine the predominant colors in their users’ searches and 5,000 most downloaded images across almost 40 stock photo sites (during 2020), Everypixel was able to identify color trends by popularity, and split them into warms and cools, even by theme.
See what they found, and what our founder and resident stock photo expert, Amos Struck, has to say about these trends.
You can also see the full Everypixel Color Trends Report here!
For a comprehensive walk through color in photography, read our guide to the best color combinations for marketing!
Our Expert’s Take on Color Trends
Social context and developments always impact stock photography. For years now, images are meant to portray our reality more than giving us an aspirational concept.
The global pandemic and lockdowns had a big effect on photography trends, and color trends. There was a sense of gloom, uncertainty, sadness that dominated visual aesthetics last year, and it's very noticeable. Even in “silver lining” concept images, those dull colors and overall darker aesthetic are still there.
But that was not the only thing. Social causes such as climate change activism and the BLM movement also made their impact, both on the topics and the style of images people are using.
Evolution in visual trends also has to do with human nature. For example, in 2021 we are seeing more resilience and rebellious spirit in images and colors that speak of joy and positivity, which is consistent with the global scenario where the end of the pandemic is on the horizon, lockdowns are over in many countries, and people start experiencing the “new normal”.
Top Popular Colors
Earthy tones are the absolute kings this year!
The most popular was a light gray, close to off-white hue.
Next, a gloomy, near-black mix of gray and brown.
Followed by a tamed, brownish beige.
And then full-on brown in a warm, reddish tone.
Next is a dark teal shade.
Also, a sunny yellow.
Finally, a lively, watery blue.
Trendy colors are affected equally by the general mood and the artistic vanguard. In this case, in 2020 there was a global shift towards nature, so earthy tones are very present, and the general mood was more or less gloomy, which is evident also in the darker, more shady hues that were most popular.
While they meet my observations, they certainly don’t align with the expectations I had before 2020 rolled out. In fact, the different trends around neon and psychedelic styles were suggesting 2020 would be more about vibrant, lively colors. While we still saw some of this, especially with electric blues, the pivot towards dull tones was interesting.Amos Struck
Popular Cool and Warm Colors
Here are the preferred warm colors
And the most selected cool tones
I like how both the warm and the cool hues seem to reflect a mix of positive and neutral feelings: high energy, moderation, and grounding for warm ones; calmness, contemplation, and reliability for cool ones. I also like how both types have a strong link with nature: earth, fire, water, air. Very interesting. That is consistent with the current stock photography trends and makes for a very nice, authentic aesthetic in images.Amos Struck
Popular Colors in 7 Stock Photo Themes
The experts also broke down the most chosen colors in seven very popular topics for stock images, which are:
Technology and Industrial
The general color concepts around photography topics are still relevant today. But as it's based on color psychology, the tones are what may vary depending on what people are feeling, and what they are wanting to feel, regarding each topic.
I think these results show that some classics remain almost untouched, such as architecture or technology. But others are shifting their traditional go-to colors to stay up to date with the times: business seems to be leaving the trustworthiness of blue aside and focusing more on shades of white and gray, neutrals that invoke calm, reliability, introspection, security. And food and education, which is normally where we would see more pop, more lively reds and yellows, have embraced duller palettes now.Amos Struck
What do you think of the current color trends in stock photography? How are you using color in your designs? We'd love to hear!
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