At Pilch & Barnet, we’ve always championed on-site photo shoots where models resemble real people on vacation in your destination. When our target audiences connect with the images and really envision themselves there, they’re more likely to plan a trip. Whether we’re working with custom photos or selecting stock, we look for images that convey emotion, contain action or tell stories as authentically as possible. But that’s no longer just a standard that we employ: unfiltered and unstaged compositions are now back in vogue. Demand for real-life photography grew significantly in 2017 and will grow even more in 2018 as brands seek to connect with their users and designers seek to rid the world of staged stock photography.
Take CVS Pharmacy, for example: recently, they’ve decided to inform customers if certain advertisements for beauty products have been digitally altered, keeping in line with this step towards authenticity in advertising. From Helena Foulkes, executive vice president of CVS: “[People] are saying ‘Celebrities aren’t real. I want to relate to people who have my own imperfections and feel that I’m empowered by the fact that I look like these people.’”
Staged unnatural images may compete for attention, but often fall flat simply because the audience can’t identify with them. Additionally, stock imagery is more familiar to very active internet users because it’s so pervasive (thanks Google images) and can be seen as disingenuous or lazy advertising. Even Instagram users don’t want to post images of themselves smiling at the camera, ushering in the rise of the “plandid,” or a staged photo that looks candid. Unique captures, delightful moments, and surprising perspectives will resonate with viewers more strongly since they show real life rather than staged situations.