In 1987, I can remember talking with a California stock photo agency director who waved his hand toward his office files with the exclamation, “Editorial photos? We have plenty of those!” The pictures he referred to were clean-cut models in a simulated work situation smiling at a computer screen, or an immaculate housewife pleasantly choring away with her modern vacuum cleaner. The viewing public in those days, it was assumed, preferred fairy-tale “editorial” pictures. Today, that is changing.
A “realness” trend — sometimes called “social photography” — is brewing in the stock photography world. Perhaps the shock of 9/11, or the turmoil in the Middle East, or the surge of social channels on TV, have all contributed to today’s portrayal of reality as it really is. The public is growing up and getting real.
Yes, the squeaky-clean advertising pictures we continue to see today have their place — in advertising. Magazine and book publishers, however, have shifted to a sense of realism in the images they choose for production. They perceive that their readership wants the “straight story.” We are seeing a growing willingness of publishers to tackle controversial social subjects with natural lighting and handheld camerawork. Even major Hollywood films today reflect a cultural acceptance of the “real.”
Will the pendulum eventually swing back to the fairy-tale photos of the ’80s and ’90’s? Only time will tell. One thing is certain: the focus on social photos today is creating valuable historical assets for the future.
[tags]stock photography, photography trends[/tags]