Olivia Parker
Apr 17, 2018

Getty Images: Picture trends vary with country economics

As Getty presents its three creative trends for 2018 to a Hong Kong audience, senior creative director Masaaki Kobayashi discusses their relevance in Asia.

Earlier this year, Getty Images unveiled three global trends it predicted for the commercial marketplace for 2018, based on data collected from over a billion searches on its website.

'Second Rennaissance' reflects audiences looking for 'painted portrait' style photographs that resemble classical art; 'Conceptual Realism' describes a trend for visually entertaining photographs that look quirky or high-concept; while 'Masculinity Undone' is about exploring alternative ways to describe men in visual imagery. 

Presenting the trends in Hong Kong to an audience of regional agencies and brands was Masaaki Kobayashi, a Tokyo-based senior creative director who has worked for Getty for 14 years.

While these trends are highly applicable to global brands, said Koyayashi, it is also possibly to identify distinct image trends for every region, which also reflect the changing priorities of ad campaigns. Diversity has been a major focus in Australia recently, for example, with a 224% year-on-year increase in searches for 'Indigenous Australian' and a 189% increase in searches for 'Disability'. Australia is also preoccupied with healthy living, seeing a huge 479% increase in images searches that reflect 'Family Happiness'. 

Japan has its own preferred style of photography that is different to that in the West, says Kobayashi, who calls the style 'airy': "it's about half blown-out, bright pictures but without a strong light. That's not a spot trend, it's more of a mega-trend," he said. Kobayashi also says that picture searches tend to vary with the mood of a country's economy, with images becoming more conservative as the economy's strength declines. 

In Japan, image trends have been very much technology focused of late, with a 225% increase in searches for 'AI' and a 715% increase in searches for 'VR', although Kobayashi also says he hasn't seen VR expand as significantly as he thought it might. Searches for 'Lean-In Connection Father' rose 394% too, suggesting the Getty's overall trend call on 'Masulinity Undone' is also playing out in Japan.

Getty itself tries to do its part to overturn stereotypes when it works with brands, according to Kobayashi, and to support their efforts at social responsibility. "One of our roles is as a steward of culture," he says. "For example in Japan we have the 2020 Olympics. That's a time when global media is paying attention to what kind of society Japan is. The government is trying to shift to a more women-friendly society than ever before but in fact the result is still much, much behind what people are heading to." He sees the gender gap in Hong Kong, meanwhile, as closing fast now compared to five or 10 years ago. 

Getty also used the presentation to introduce its 'Custom Content' offering, which launched in October 2017, to the brands and agencies present. This allows customers to get photographs shot to their own keyword, time and budget specifications, using Getty's network of photographers around the world. Brands like BP and Terumo, the international medical group headquartered in Japan, have already used the service, explained Sonia Liang, business development manager for Getty Images in Hong Kong.  

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