Winter 2021: Visuals for celebration and reflection

Pine trees engulfed in fog.

Credit: Adobe Stock / ciprian miresan/EyeEm.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter is a season associated with reflection and relaxation. It is when we head indoors, pour out a mug of tea, and sink into a couch with a good book. But for the rest of the globe, where December might mean tropical rains or long days at the beach, winter still marks the end of a cycle, and a moment to pause.

This reflection isn’t necessarily passive. Rather, the season is an opportunity for us to celebrate our accomplishments, carve out time and space for self-care, and share another year of wisdom with our loved ones. We look back by pursuing activities that give us the chance to take a deep breath and enjoy the here and now.

This is especially true in 2021, where so many of us have adapted to a global pandemic with habits and routines that put our wellbeing in our own hands and closer to home. Brands and creatives will be looking for visuals that tap into this combination of calm, celebration, energetic engagement, and moments of peace. Stock creators should seek these vibrant juxtapositions in new photo and video productions, and illustrations that speak to the coming winter season.

Read on for the visual trends and collections from Adobe Stock that welcome winter — with sheet masks and hot cocoa as well as party streamers and lavish dinners.

Creating spaces for mind and body

The global wellness industry is now valued at 1.5 trillion dollars, larger than the GDP of many countries. It is clear that across nations and cultures, consumers are prioritizing products, services, and activities that promote health and wellbeing. With much of the world still affected by COVID-19, many are directing this energy and money inwards, towards home.

It is no surprise that activities that promise emotional and spiritual, as well as physical health, have risen in popularity over the last year. Yoga, Pilates, meditation, and barre classes are all on the rise.

Our Winter Sanctuary curated stock collection visually reflects this shift in our homes and ourselves. Our apartments and houses have not only become our workplaces, cafes, and gyms — they’re also our sanctuaries. Little retreats from the outside world were we seek rest, rejuvenation, and safety. This collection is full of face masks, candles, candlelit baths, and naptime.

Left image burning candles, right image, illustration of woman doing yoga.

Credit: Left: Adobe Stock / Lisa und Wilfried Bahnmüller/Westend61 Right: Adobe Stock /merfin.

The tones and textures of warmth and relaxation

Meanwhile, designers are expecting a gradual shift away from curated, sharp midcentury modern aesthetics into more eclectic, playful, and soft interior design. Consumers are looking for ways to express their personalities and color and excitement to their homes. Expect to see more patterns, textures, and departures from the stark geometry of Ikea dressers.

Our Winter Colors and Textures collection leads us to a world full of plush fabrics, warm blankets, and sparkling champagne. The Adobe Stock Ski Suit color palette takes the traditional cooler blues and greens of winter and warms them up. Rich teals and cyans play against lighter ochre notes and soft earth tones: a palette that evokes puffy winter outerwear more so than the frozen landscape.

Similarly, the sparkling and vivid tones of our Seasonal Self-Care color palette evoke the comfort and joy found in cloud-like comforters and pillows. With no earth accents in sight, this palette doesn’t hold back from going full-in on bright, cheerful, rejuvenating colors reflecting the tools of self-care: flowery pinks and purple, jewel tones of healing crystals, and the bright green of matcha powder.

Collage of woman in colorful glassses, ski's facing a sunrise in the snow and a color palette.

Credit: Left: Adobe Stock / KIKE ARNAIZ/Stocksy Right: Adobe Stock / niccoló pontigia/EyeEm. Below: Adobe Ski Suit color palette.

A time to celebrate

Winter marks the end of the calendar year, a time when many of us reflect on what we have accomplished in the last nine months. It is the season of office holiday parties, end-of-year lists, and some of the biggest religious holidays.

The Shimmer and Glimmer collection for 2021 evokes the spirit of the last century’s rollicking, delirious, roaring 20s. Almost as if by compulsion, the year we entered our second decade of the 21st century, Champagne sales skyrocketed. Now with a notch under our belt (and with more people vaccinated than last winter) the Shimmer and Glimmer collection evokes the pop of a cork, the lustrous sheen of satin and silk, and the glint of gold and silver playing against the chandelier.

Closer to home, our Finally, Festivities! collection captures the mood of celebration that radiates across families in the holiday season. Last winter, before vaccination campaigns began, many families were under strict stay-at-home orders. This year, while still feeling cautious, families may be more likely to gather together and make up for the lost time. The collection reflects the pent-up mood of cheer and goodwill and well as the longing to share spaces again, with plenty of toasts, meals, and group activities.

Woman blowing confetti towards the camera.

Credit: Adobe Stock / niccoló pontigia/EyeEm.

Tables ready for sharing both in-person and online

With the verdant picnics of spring and poolside barbeques of summer months in the past, our rituals of eating together turn inward to the hearth. Families and friends will be looking to (safely) pack together into their homes and celebrate. Our curated stock collection Communal Table is tailored not only to the traditional extravagant holiday meals, but also the quiet weeknight meals we share with each other.

Social media will continue to play a larger and larger role in how we cook, eat, and share food. By some estimates, over 70 percent of adults use social media to find recipes and inspiration for cooking. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest have demystified the process of cooking and made it easier for people to learn step-by-step how to create gorgeous, eye-grabbing meals. Consumers will be looking for images that not only look warm and decadent but are eye-catching and social media-ready.

Collage of people having dinner and food.

Credit: Left: Adobe Stock/ Maskot Right: Adobe Stock / Andrew Scrivani.

Call for content: Fresh takes on winter

Surveying the visual landscape, a change of seasons is an opportunity to reimagine the traditional images we associate with them. We are always looking for a fresh take on glowing holiday dinners, bright powdery snow, and the chunkiest, warmest-looking sweaters.

There is also space to forge a new path — winter celebrations this year might look different than any year before! In a world where brands are looking to engage with highly targeted audiences, the more specific and authentic to lived experience a photo or illustration feels, the better.

The underlying theme among all our winter collections, is one of taking time for yourself, whether that means a solo vacation to a mountain cabin or a fully-vaccinated Broadway show, or an afternoon at home in a clay mask. So bundle up, take a deep breath, and prepare for the season of reflection.

Check out the winter 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.