Looking inside the Shutterstock shot list

November 6, 2019 / by Stacy

Everyone wants their stock photos to be appealing and popular. Sometimes you’re stuck for inspiration, other times it’s just helpful to be able to provide content people are actually looking for. Shutterstock has come to the rescue with their shot list. The shot list makes suggestions for each month based on what users actually search for. So following those trends will mean your photos are in demand.

There are some general suggestions that show up again and again on the list, independent of the season or year. Working them into some of your photos and combining them with other trends will offer more generalized appeal.

Positive moods, actions, and situations

Subjects displaying happiness, kindness, helping and enjoyment are always popular. Most people respond better to positive images. These types of photos evoke positive feelings that marketers want associated with their client’s content, services, or products. Because of this, many content creators try to work from a positive prospective and have a need for stock photos that reflect that.



Diversity can come in lots of forms. Photos of diverse people in everyday situations shows up on the shot list frequently. These types of photos can apply to a wide variety of content creation, offer wide appeal, and give a sense of inclusiveness.

These trends pop up at the same time every year or often. They offer some predictability as far as content creation and need for stock photos goes. These photos show up in 2018 and 2019 and will likely offer plenty of demand in the immediate future.


This one is huge because holidays happen all year, every year and it includes pretty much any major holiday from any country or culture. There’s the holidays that occur on the same date every year such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day in the U.S., holidays that celebrate independence or the establishment of countries, and religious holidays such as Hanukkah, Ramadan and Easter. Multi-day, well known cultural festivals often occur during a particular season, such as Chinese New Year, Carnival in Brazil or Diwali in India. There are also international holidays like International Women’s Day and Earth Day.

Holiday specific food or gathering for holiday meals is also popular. Keep in mind most content is created one to two months in advance of the holiday, so related photos will be in demand then.

Health and wellness


In 2017, the healthcare industry became the largest employer in the U.S. and global estimates of annual healthcare spending are expected to top $18 trillion dollars by 2040. Considering that, it’s easy to understand why there’s a consistent demand for health and wellness related content. Photos depicting healthcare providers, healthcare technology, aging related services, cancer treatment, nutrition, exercise, self-care, people with disabilities and mental health services are just some of the suggestions.


Winter, spring, summer, and fall happen every year, and content creators act accordingly. Demand for those photos will usually occur one to two months prior to the season. Keep local differences in mind. Suggestions include season specific outdoor settings, like green spring grass. Seasonal symbols like spring flowers. And season specific outdoor activities like swimming outdoors or skiing. Don’t forget seasonal food like fall apples or summer watermelons.



April sees demand for tech photos, two months prior to the huge [E3 Expo](https://www.e3expo.com/about) that showcases the latest in computers and video games.

These trends often reflect general cultural trends, news trends, or design and lifestyle trends. In addition to using the shot list, you may want to do some other research. Shutterstock also offers a list of the most popular topics, searches and contributors along with their blog that can help get a handle on what’s up and coming.


These trends didn’t really resurface for 2019 and are probably done, at least temporarily.

  • Vintage. Photos from real life from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s were popular, probably due in part to baby boomer nostalgia.
  • Abstract and surrealism. There’s always some demand for abstract but other styles are much more popular right now.


These trends have been popular for 2019 and you can still get some mileage out of them.

  • Scandinavian lifestyle and minimalism. It has been a décor and lifestyle trend throughout 2019. Décor trends tend to change often and quickly, and while it may remain popular, it may get somewhat less popular after winter.
  • Environmental awareness. Anything having to do with environmental issues, activism, and solutions to environmental problems is on the rise in 2019.
  • Animals, plants, and other nature elements. Probably related to the increase in environmental awareness.

Using Shutterstock’s shot list can keep your photos relevant, help you know what clients are looking for in stock photos and increase the chances of having your work selected for use.

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