Trend Report: Millennial Imagery in Demand

Lazy. Unproductive. Self-absorbed. Addicted to social media. W.C. Fields once said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Millennials, the generation of people born between 1981 and 1996, have been called a lot of names, but which ones should they answer to? Over the past two years, Pond5 has seen a big uptick in search terms containing the keyword “millennial.” As mass media attempts to define and portray an identity for what’s become the largest demographic in the American work force, there’s now a huge need for relevant imagery.

Lazy Boy by Monster

Of course, when people are looking for Millennial imagery, they’re not always searching for just the keyword “Millennial.” There are a slew of other common phrases related to this demographic, such as: “Generation Y,” “Hipster,” “Startup/Startup Culture,” “Social Media/Network,” “Smartphones,” “Mobile Business,” “Student Loan Debt,” “Marriage Equality,” “Financial Meltdown,” “Occupy,” “Buy Local,” and many more.

Pond5 Millennial Keyword Searches Up To April 2016
Pond5 “Millennial” Keyword Searches up to April 2016

What is “Millennial Imagery”?

To really answer this, we have to consider what life is like for Millennials. For starters, they grew up in the digital age and were early adopters of social media (81% of Millennials are now on Facebook). They were the first to experience in-home video-game systems, mobile phones, and laptops on a mass scale. Thus they are computer savvy and generally eager to embrace new technology.

Girl Sharing Photos With Boyfriend by Rocket Clips

Millennials philosophize through memes, flirt with emojis, and breakup via text. They navigate with apps, share through hashtags, and propose via tweet. They know their shopping habits are monitored by marketers, friendships mediated by technology, and internet activity surveilled by governments.

Goethe had no idea when he famously lamented way back in 1800, “Everything, what everybody does, wants, writes, even what he plans, is publicly exposed. One can only enjoy oneself, or suffer, for the entertainment of others, and in the greatest rush.”

Searching for Love Smartphone Screen by VULK

Millennials are also the most racially diverse generation in American history — 43% of Millennial adults are non-white. This is the highest share of any past generation, and is increasing every year, largely due to immigration.

Friends Pose at Outdoor Cafe by HOTELFOXTROT

When it comes to careers, Millennials unfortunately entered the job market during the economic downturn following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and experienced the worst global recession since WWII. (The Median household income in the US still remains below its 1999 peak.) In this competitive landscape, candidates need specialized skill sets, degrees are pre-requisites, and college attendance has spiked. As a result, Millennials have stacked up record student loan debt and their economic circumstances reflect a rapid technological change in the global workforce.

Student Loan Debt Bomb by IRONSTRIKE

At the same time, the past few decades have seen big changes in our culture. From same-sex marriage to marijuana legalization, society has become more socially liberal. Of course, these changes have not come without much political debate and controversy.

Same Sex Marriage Approval by HD_PREMIUM_SHOTS

As the PewResearchCenter recently reported, “Americans have become more detached from major institutions like political parties, religion, the military, and marriage… the racial and ethnic makeup of the country has changed… and women have greatly increased their participation in the nation’s workforce.”

Protesters at Occupy Wall Street by FullFlip

Finally, it’s important to understand why Millennial imagery is in demand right now. Advertisers and marketers are aiming their strategies at this demographic. For example, MTV — the network that dominated pop culture during the Millennials’ childhood, has just announced that it’s going to bring back some of its most iconic series from the 80s and 90s, including shows like MTV Unplugged and Cribs (as a Snapchat series).

As videos in the style of the 1980s and 90s make a resurgence, images that evoke the issues relevant to Millennials are likely to be valuable to any company producing media, from videos to memes, banner ads to TV commercials.

Startup Team Business Meeting by AILAIMAGES

A few reasons Millennials are vital in mass media right now:

  • They comprise the largest demographic in the American workforce (More than 1 in 3 American workers today are Millennials, according to PRC analysis of US Census Bureau data).
  • In 2016, Millennials are projected to surpass the Baby Boom generation as the nation’s largest living generation.
  • With immigration adding more numbers to its group than any other, the Millennial population is projected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million.
  • Millennials are the most educated generation ever


Relevant Themes And Concepts

Here are some themes to keep in mind when creating Millennial imagery:

  • Unattached — Political independence, irreligion, flexible lifestyles
  • Digital Natives – Computer-savvy, adapting to new technology, smartphone saturated
  • Diversity – Disparate groups of people sharing common goals
  • Tolerance – Equal opportunities, civil and political rights
  • Financial Struggles — High costs of living versus low wages, economic crisis
  • Civic Responsibility – A connected global community, strong local communities

As media creators, we may ask ourselves how we influence the spectacle of mass media. How can we take what is happening and incorporate it into what we create? Consider how images of solar cells, wind turbines, and electric cars have helped organize society’s environmental thinking around energy-production, renewable power, and sustainability.

Energy and Power Generation 4K by BONJANSEN

Can we, as visual/media artists, help introduce new, subversive ideas into public discourse? Certainly we run the risk of being trivialized and sterilized by mainstream media, but then again, there is power in images and music, motion pictures and sound.

Businesswoman Walking in London by AILAIMAGES

As Karl Marx once said, “It is the ideal world which always wells up out of the real world and flows back into it with every greater spiritual riches and renews its soul.” In that spirit, look at these trends through your own lens and imagine how you may influence society’s common world vision through your creations.

Explore more Millennial imagery in our hand-curated Millennial Generation video collection »

Millennial Generation Collection

Contributor Tips: What to Create This Month (and What to Avoid)

Artists, are you looking for inspiration for your Pond5 portfolio? Do you feel like creating something new and different? Or are you just wondering what would make our curators happy? Read on to find out what kinds of content we’re currently saturated with, and what we’d like to have more of in our collection.

Video: Go Beyond the Ducks

Ducks in ponds are pretty to look at, easy to shoot, and found in abundance in our library. Unless you manage to capture something truly unique — a rare breed or an action that’s interesting or funny — this type of footage isn’t likely to stand out among all the other similar content we have. Because of that, we’ve decided to scale back on how many Donalds and Daffys we’re adding to the collection.

Wild Ducks by Palomnik

We still love wildlife clips, but we encourage contributors to think strategically about the specific footage you’re shooting. It’s easy to go to the park and start filming — anyone can do it, so many, many people do. However, other varieties of birds are still highly sought-after, and we would love to see more of those.

Footage of birds of prey or woodland birds (and other wildlife) in their natural habitats is much rarer and highly encouraged. Here’s an example of a European robin singing — both the image and the audio are very well captured, and it highlights unique behavior of a wild bird in its environment. This particular video has been very popular, and we would love to see more examples of footage like this from artists like you.

Robin Singing in a Tree by wildwatertv

Music: 2016, The Year of Brazil

With this year’s Summer Olympics happening in Brazil, we’re on the lookout for authentic Brazilian music. Try your hand at samba, bossa nova, sertanejo, pagode, tropicalia, and lambada. Experiment with lots of percussion and nylon-string guitars. Go for the gold!

Get inspired by this tune:

Viva Brazil by Porrazzo

Meanwhile, upbeat, poppy tracks featuring ukulele are a staple of advertising these days. So if you search on Pond5 for “ukulele” you’ll be confronted with over 7,000 results, which is probably 6,990 more than you’ll ever want to listen to. If you’re absolutely dead-set on using your uke, try creating some authentic Hawaiian-style tunes to round out our portfolio. Throw some slack-key guitar on there, record it in a hammock, and make yourself a tropical drink!

Listen to a great example:

Waikiki Serenade by heaven

After Effects: Keep an Eye on the Calendar

AE templates that animate 2D graphics into 3D are a great and easy way to improve your logos. But right now we already have 2,640 of these, so most of the styles and treatments are starting to turn out similar. As a result, we’ve been stricter in curating these. They’re still very much welcome, but try to step it a notch and show us something that’s never been done yet.

3D Glossy Logo on Textured Background by artdesign

We rarely get templates focused on events, holidays, and seasonal themes, like Graduation, Ramadan, St. Patrick’s Day, and Awards Ceremonies. In fact, we only have eight templates spotlighting the 4th of July so far! So if you’re running out of ideas, take a look at your calendar, see which holidays are there, and create an AE template to go with it!

4th of July Photo Montage by MagicalGraphicsDesign

Photos: Shopping Made Real

Shopping is one of the world’s most popular activities — everybody loves bags full of new clothes. That’s most probably why we have so many women with shopping bags in our collection (mostly on white backgrounds). We’re still looking for people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds with their catches though — local feel is always a benefit!


Happy Young Woman With Shopping Bags by bluejeanimages

Try heading to the nearest shop and capturing some images of real shopping. If you have a bunch of models, maybe they could be a family? They can choose the best product together, try on new shoes, or pay at the counter. These images will be super useful for e-shops and stores all over the world.

Grocery store shopping - Woman with child in a supermarket choosing bread

Grocery Store Shopping by CBIProduction

Illustrations: From Abstract to Concrete

Abstract backgrounds are popular, but also plentiful in our illustration collection — that’s why we generally discourage artists from concentrating on this sort of artwork too much for their submissions. (We still appreciate a good one when we see it, though!) Modern geometric backgrounds with trendy color schemes like this one are still very much welcome:

Abstract geometric background full vector

Abstract Geometric Background by Orkidia

If you’re building a portfolio of backgrounds, try dipping a toe into the creation of illustrated seamless patterns. They’re amazingly flexible to use — a funky pattern can be the star of the show, or just a supportive element in someone’s final design.

Hand drawn baking seamless pattern, muffins with chocolate, jam and raisins, Retro pencil food illustration on polka dot background

Hand Drawn Baking Muffins Seamless Pattern by Depiano

Stay tuned for more tips on what to (and not to) submit in the near future. In the meantime, have fun creating!

Top image: Eastern Bluebirds by SteveByland