Autumn 2021: A season of change for stock imagery

Image of two people smiling and embracing.

Image Source: Adobe Stock / Nunez Image/Stocksy.

By Brenda Milis
Posted on 07-13-2021

For many, the return to life as it was before the pandemic seemed to follow the old Ernest Hemingway adage about bankruptcy: it has happened gradually, and then suddenly. After a year of fits and starts, partial re-openings, returns to staying-at-home, and vaccination rollouts of varying success around the world, suddenly everything is starting to feel normal in parts of North America. For those who can, people seem ready to return to public life with an almost uncontrollable eagerness — and that eagerness is manifesting in the visuals all around us, in person and online.

Autumn is always a season for family gatherings and fresh starts. It’s when we return from the dog days of summer refreshed and ready to embrace our work, studies, and daily life with renewed focus and sense of purpose. This year, many of us will also be bringing a readiness to return to a faster pace of daily life after a year and a half of being displaced and anxious about a global pandemic. For many others, that displacement and anxiety remains, or will be slow to recede, causing us to refocus on our deepest values: the loved ones and the personal pursuits that make our lives worth living.

In advertising and the wider media landscape, brands will be continuing to highlight visuals that speak to those emotions. Stock images and video that depicts the season with these timely concerns and evergreen ideas in mind will have the most commercial appeal. Adobe Stock autumnal collections are brimming with family gatherings, road trips, lavish dinners, and quiet campfire chats, perfect for a season that will be at once joyful and reflective. Learn more about Adobe’s upcoming autumn trends below.

Image Source: Left: Adobe Stock / Eldad Carin Ltd./Stocksy Right: Adobe Stock / Grzegorz Below: Adobes Brightest Bouquet palette.

A color palette as vibrant and lush as the world around us

The tones and textures of autumn naturally mirror the natural world around us. Each season the eye-popping candy-colored hues of summer seem to mature into a richer and warmer palette. It is a subtle difference, but we all feel it: between the jammy reds of strawberries and cherries and luscious crimson of cranberries and maple leaves, or the gap between the yellow of lemons and hay.

This year’s colors will reflect an emerging optimism and deep pleasure in tonal play. The Adobe Stock Fall Flowers color palette contrasts vivacious fuchsia purples, turmeric orange, and amethyst violets with warm, almost toasty yellows and citrine. These vibrant jewel tones seem ready-made for fabric, food, and illustrations that capture opulence. Fall Flowers color palette contrasts vivacious fuchsia purples, turmeric orange, and amethyst violets with warm, almost toasty yellows and citrine. These vibrant jewel tones seem ready-made for fabric, food, and illustrations that capture opulence.

Complementing this lively sense of color is the inviting and cozy palette Down to Earth. As the weather cools and people reach for their wool sweaters and favorite clay mugs, this palette melds together complimentary rich neutrals like sand, ochre, and mocha with deep saturated crimson and teal. This is the color palette for autumn walks and hikes through forests and lakes with a warm mug of tea waiting for us at the end.

Image Source: Left: Adobe Stock / Ramon Lopez/ADDICTIVE STOCK Right: Adobe Stock / rawpixel.com Below: Adobes Down to Earth palette.

Back to school with a few changes

Long before Covid-19 disrupted learning models across the globe, educators were starting to mix elements of virtual, distance, and online learning with traditional models, particularly at college campuses where part-time and flexible options were needed for working students. The pandemic might have abruptly brought millions of young students home, but as they return this autumn, schools have a deeper appreciation for how to mix modes of teaching.

With in-person schooling comes the return of students expressing themselves through back-to-school outfits and accessories. Brands that cater to students and education will need to adapt for a retail environment that’s moving increasingly online.

Image Source: Left: Adobe Stock / Santiago Right: Adobe Stock / Frame Studio.

Exploring the near outdoors

By some estimates, Americans have around $1.7 trillion in excess savings that they are eager to spend after a year of self-deprivation and staying in place (a phenomenon called, distressingly, revenge spending). Across the world people have been cooped up and saving for a time when things return to normal. In the meantime, many of us are looking for ways to save our wanderlust closer to home.

With countries worldwide keeping measures to reduce international travel, consumers seem happy to continue to explore their own backyards. According to a Harris Poll last year, “69 percent of Americans say they have an increased appreciation of the experience and awareness of their surroundings when they are outside ever since lockdowns ended.” There’s a greater appreciation for the beauty and restorative powers of nature, not only as a safe place to be but a place we need to cherish and nurture.

With all this energy focusing on domestic outdoors travel, brands and creators will be eager for material to express the joy and sense of adventure we get from packing up the RV and hitting the road. All over our social media feeds we’re seeing people expose themselves to the elements — leaving their comfort zones and curated households for the rustic pleasures of sleeping in a tent, or even your car. The Adobe Stock Fall Outward Bound collection is full of camping, hiking, fireside cooking, and other lowkey adventures.

Image Source: Adobe Stock / Hero Images.

Anchor rituals that bind us together in gratitude and celebration

Family reunions, whether large or small, do more than give us a chance to catch up. They help us mark the passage of time, anchoring us to a shared past and well of memories while giving us an opportunity to bond and plan. The Fall Reunion curated collection is tailored to this post-pandemic need to engage collectively in rituals large and small, from communal meals and cooking to prayer, reflection, and religious ceremonies.

The Adobe Stock Fall Holiday curated collection celebrates the huge variety of holidays this season and the communal sense of heritage they offer us. As brands start to reach a broader global audience, there is a stronger need for imagery and content that represents autumnal holidays from around the world, such as the Mooncake Festival, Día De Los Muertos, Chuseok, Diwali, and Rosh Hashanah.

For American mainstays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, expect opulence and a heightened sense of exuberance: after humble household-only dinners family will be going all out to feed anyone and everyone in their communities.

Image Source: Left: Adobe Stock / Jill Chen/Stocksy Right: Adobe Stock / View Stock.

Call for content: Imagery for a season of gratitude

The Adobe Stock team is always looking for more seasonally relevant photography, video clips, and illustrations, and now is the perfect time for artists to contribute autumn content.

Beyond the contemporary autumnal trends like pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking, and cashmere dusters, lies a season that has, for most of human history, been one of harvesting — of receiving the payoff from seasons of hard-work, care, and diligence. A common thread across the various holidays, rituals, and gatherings is one of gratitude and sharing.

After this last year, families and friends are discovering how much more they have to be thankful for. Brands are always looking for diverse, honest, and fresh content to help them connect with this season of sharing.

Check out the autumn 2021 collections on Adobe Stock for more inspiration. Then, sign up for a free Adobe Stock Contributor account, and upload your best new seasonal images and videos to Adobe Stock.

Topics: Creativity, Insights & Inspiration, Trends & Research, Creative Inspiration & Trends, Illustration, Photography, Video & Audio, Media & Entertainment, Creative Cloud,

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