The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel

everypixel logo > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel

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

amos > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Amos Struck
Industry Expert

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”.

Amos Struck


Top Popular Colors

Color trends 2021 general stats wheel > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Earthy tones are the absolute kings this year! 

The most popular was a light gray, close to off-white hue. 

Color trends 2021 gray > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Next, a gloomy, near-black mix of gray and brown. 

Color trends 2021 dark > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Followed by a tamed, brownish beige. 

Color trends 2021 beige > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

And then full-on brown in a warm, reddish tone. 

Color trends 2021 brown > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Next is a dark teal shade. 

Color trends 2021 teal > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Also, a sunny yellow. 

Color trends 2021 yellow > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Finally, a lively, watery blue. 

Color trends 2021 blue > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

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

Color trends 2021 warm > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

And the most selected cool tones

Color trends 2021 cool > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

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: 

Architecture

Color trends 2021 architecture > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Business

Color trends 2021 business > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Education

Color trends 2021 education > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Food

Color trends 2021 food > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Medicine

Color trends 2021 medicine > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Nature

Color trends 2021 nature > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

Technology and Industrial

Color trends 2021 technology > The Stock Photo Color Trends Report by Everypixel
Screenshot from Everypixel Color Trends Report *

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!

* For the analysis, Everypixel used the content of the resources listed below and found by users through the Everypixel search engine:

123RF, 500px, AllFreeDownload, Bara-Art, Barnimages, Bigstockphoto, CanStockPhoto, Colourbox, Crestock, Depositphotos, Dreamstime, EPX, Fancycrave, FindA.Photo, Focastock, Freenaturestock, Freepik, GalleryStock, GoodstockPhotos, iStock, Jaymantri, Kaboompics, Libreshot, Magdeleine, Offset.com, Pexels, Pikwizard, Pixabay, Pixta, Plainpicture, Pond5, PressFoto, Shutterstock, SkitterPhoto, StockSnap.io, Unsplash, Vecteezy, VectorStock
Avatar of Ivanna Attié

Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in StockPhotoSecrets.com and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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