What can stock photography tell you about culture at large? With 450 million data points, it can tell you quite a bit.
By analyzing a year's worth of searches on Adobe Stock, Adobe was able to produce some insightful data on the types of images people are searching for, illuminating the evolution of both advertising trends and prevailing culture. Searches for women were up 39 percent last year, but the breakdown of that data is far more interesting:
- Searches for one-dimensional women (i.e. "attractive woman") were down 43 percent.
- On the other hand, searches for multidimensional women were up an incredible 500 percent, including a 633 percent increase for "sexy and strong" women and 645 percent for "sexy and symbolic," with further increases in searches for "authority" as associated with women.
Adobe asserts that this data reflects changes in how women are represented, particularly in advertising. Nonetheless, women in the industry point to the fact that only 11 percent of creative directors being female reflects an inherent sexism in advertising and why searches for "sexy" women remain pervasive despite an increasing multidimensionality to said searches.
Said multidimensionality is believed to indicate a shift toward more nuanced and strengthened portrayals of women, however. This, coupled with a 43 percent increase for symbolic or iconic imagery of women seems to be indicative of a growing paradigm shift, one that Adobe believes indicates a reconceptualization of gender in advertising.
Lead image by Jacob Lund, via Adobe Stock.