What’s trending in Licensing: The importance of sustainability, climate activism, and saving the oceans

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Keep up with key trends in Licensing as 500px’s Art Director, Karen Biilmann, analyzes common threads and current themes throughout our Exclusive Contributor photography submissions. From brands taking a stand on climate change to those moving toward a sustainable future, here’s what’s trending in the 500px Licensing Collection.

Taking a stand on global issues and current events has become the latest tool to empower brands who are gaining cult followings for aiding in social justice or improving quality of life.

Climate change and pollution, in particular, is a hot topic—the year 1960 was when the first real recognition happened of the ‘warming effect’ due to carbon emissions. Since then, support for this theory has become increasingly favored in the scientific community, but also recognized through the evolving landscape.

Eiskapelle Watzmann by Maximilian Pohler on 500px.com

Canon EOS 6D
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
35mm | ƒ/4 | 1/30s | ISO 500

Woman standing on rocky coast by Kaitlyn McLachlan on 500px.com

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
39mm | ƒ/2.8 | 1/2000s | ISO 100

What really defined the movement was human-induced climate change and pollution, sparking a global referendum across governments. The UN recently called on government leaders to meet in New York for the UN Climate Action Summit 2019. Pop-culture icons have also become vocal, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, who has launched outspoken campaigns on climate change awareness.

Major brands, such as Adidas, launch campaigns to not only raise awareness around climate change and pollution, but unite a global population, encouraging them to contribute to the efforts in saving the planet. In June of 2019, Adidas launched its campaign ‘Run for the Oceans’, on World Ocean Day, pledging $1.00 US for every kilometer run, capping the total sum at $1.5 million US, to the Parley Ocean School. The School is working to help solve the issue of plastic ocean waste, which is predicted to outnumber fish by the year 2050.

Due to the increasing publicity around ocean plastic, we have seen a spike in customers searching for images depicting the ocean for their content—searches on the topic increased by 38% according to the Getty Images Creative Insights.

I'm God by Dmitrii Bardakov on 500px.com

Canon EOS 60D
17mm | ƒ/4.5 | 1/200s | ISO 250

Grouper close-up by Philippe Gerber on 500px.com

Nikon D200
10.0-17.0 mm f/3.5-4.5
11mm | ƒ/7.1 | 1/160s | ISO 200

Playa Del Carmen by Riquet Aouad on 500px.com

Hasselblad L1D-20c
10mm | ƒ/8 | 0/1s | ISO 100

We also see popular clothing brands like H&M and Zara pledging to be fully sustainable by the year 2020 (H&M) and 2025 (Zara). Ikea has also committed to being fully sustainable by 2030. This shift indicates that consumers are becoming more conscious, choosing to purchase or support brands who are willing to invest in a healthier future on a global scale. This ultimately influences advertising campaigns and commercial trends.

What does this mean for commercial photography?

Searches around the concept of sustainability have gone up 78.7% (Getty Images). Content that portrays sustainability, whether incorporating recycled or reusable items in product photography or prop styling, highlighting the changing landscape through travel photography, or sustainable plant-based or vegan food options. All are trending when it comes to voicing sustainability and climate activism through photography and commercial advertisement.

Peasprouts by Emma-Elisabeth Gouskova Poey on 500px.com

Sony Alpha a55
Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM
50mm | ƒ/2 | 1/250s | ISO 400

Ditalini pasta with chickpeas by Ekaterina Fedotova on 500px.com

Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i / Kiss X6i
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
50mm | ƒ/8 | 1/1s | ISO 100

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