As we enter 2017, now is the perfect time to make sense of how the images we consume on a daily basis are evolving. It's always fascinating to plot the direction of change and predict which visual trends we'll be seeing this year in everything from the films we'll watch at the cinema to the adverts we'll see in print.
Each year, as we put our 'visual stake' in the ground, the content experts at Getty Images analyse search data from our customers' 400 million downloads. We combine this with our in-depth analysis of global brand communications, the use of imagery in popular culture and the key changes that we're seeing in society - all to try and predict which trends are going to have the strongest impact in visual communications.
Below are three trends that we predict will have a heavy influence in 2017. These represent the changing look of storytelling and in many ways reflect on us as consumers, because of course we are contributing to their evolution.
Gritty women are tenacious, breaking down conventions one big step at a time. We've already seen them brought to life by the likes of H&M in its 'She's a lady' campaign, which depicts a diverse range of strong women, unashamedly flaunting their non-stereotyped bodies, storming boardrooms, and tensing their muscles, flexing their power. The 'Gritty Woman' trend is a heightened continuation of the strong female trend we've been highlighting over the last five years, epitomized by campaigns such as Always' #likeagirl.
In 2017, we expect to see more and more imagery reminiscent of photojournalism and showing an increasing move away from the traditional gloss of advertising. We think we're looking at a consolidation of a new and permanent change in commercial photography - a move towards a much more raw aesthetic. Not simply imagery with an authenticity feel but reality. We've tracked the authenticity trend over the last 10 years and this is the most powerful manifestation of it.
Cancer Research UK is already using unfiltered imagery to convey the reality of living with the disease. There are no actors in the poignant #CancerIsNow campaign but rather patients who have agreed to be filmed during treatment. It resembles the style of a documentary, leaving viewers feeling more like a 'fly-on-the-wall' than a directly targeted consumer.
The look and feel of this content particularly resonates with the fastest growing segment of consumers of content - the millennials, or the digital natives. Growing up online means they're used to consuming from the 'firehose' and as a result, they're much savvier to marketing than previous generations. Expect to see this kind of content being employed more widely in advertising.
Scepticism around Virtual Reality (VR) has finally taken a backseat. What has become clear to brands and the public alike, is that VR is here to stay. Accessibility improved massively last year, with Google Cardboard providing an affordable alternative to expensive headsets. As a result, excitement has grown among consumers and brands are optimistic about the opportunities it presents.
Undoubtedly, it has the potential to transform the way the public consumes and engages with brands. It signals our departure from a world confined to two dimensional imagery towards a more immersive experience - and not just visually, that is just the start.
Numerous brands are experimenting with VR. The New York Times, for example, launched New York Times VR, a smartphone app which places users at the heart of a story, allowing them to see the world through the eyes of a refugee or explore previously unseen worlds using 360-degree videos. Initial feedback has been extremely positive, demonstrating that consumers are keen to embrace this way of keeping up to date with what's going on around them. Similarly, The Guardian created a VR app which enabled people to experience the psychological impact of being in a solitary confinement prison cell.
2017 is an exciting time for creative industries, as we delve deeper into the possibilities that stem from VR and explore a much more visceral form of storytelling to connect with viewers and customers.
We expect these trends to emerge more broadly in 2017 and it will be fascinating to see how brands and image makers use them to make their brands and marketing more powerfully engaging. To read about our other predictions, click here.