According to a recent study by OnePoll on behalf of Ally Financial, 63% of Americans say the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged them to spend more time on hobbies and odd jobs, with almost three in four saying that finally having time for hobbies has been a positive outcome of an otherwise challenging time. Among respondents, popular hobbies included gardening, cooking, reading and writing, exercising, and fixing up their cars.

Despite the uncertainty of 2020, the last year also gave rise to skyrocketing interest in hobbies, as people experimented with DIY projects and newfound passions. Earlier this year, the Google Ads Research and Insights team revealed that searches for “things to do during ____”, including “things to do during quarantine”, “things to do during lockdown”, and “safe things to do during COVID”, had grown by more than 300% year over year.

For commercial photographers, these trends pose new opportunities for shooting content that resonates with today’s image-buyers. 2021 is the perfect time to explore a new niche in lifestyle photography and expand your Licensing portfolio in fresh directions. Below, we’ll take a look at just four trending hobbies to consider shooting in the coming months.

Spotlight on: Baking

In April 2020, Google Trend searches for “bread” hit an all-time high, with flour sales in one Toronto bakery jumping by almost 700%. But if you thought the baking boom ended in 2020, think again—according to the home baking report by Packaged Foods, sales are expected to continue to rise throughout this year. Additionally, more consumers now consider themselves bakers, with one survey from Packaged Foods revealing that 84% have baked at home with some frequency and 45% identifying as “avid bakers.

Baking and cooking-themed photoshoots are easy to do at home, with help from friends and family. Remember to capture the whole process, from the gathering of ingredients to the enjoyment of the finished product. “Consider shooting lifestyle content featuring people of all ages baking and trying new recipes—kneading the dough, removing it from the oven, putting on some finishing touches, finally serving it, etc.,” the 500px team suggests. “There is also an opportunity to capture nice flat lays and stylized food photography along the way.” For more ideas on shooting commercial food photos at home, check out this article on the subject.

Spotlight on: Crafting

Last year, Hobbycraft in the UK noticed increased searches for tutorials on everything from sewing to knitting to scrapbooking, indicating a boom in interest in arts and crafts. Visits to their “ideas” page alone tripled in the spring of 2020. Meanwhile, #QuarantineCrafts trended online, and experts weighed in on the potential therapeutic benefits of arts and crafts during uncertain times. Etsy experienced a 221% increase in searches for DIY kits and a 64% increase in searches relating to craft supplies and tools.

From embroidery to crochet, opportunities for photoshoots abound, whether you’re documenting someone who crafts for pleasure or a pro who’s set up a pandemic side-hustle to sell their goods. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box on this one, either. Just consider “rug tufting,” the TikTok trend of making fluffy rugs. Plus, in February, research from the Google Ads Research and Insights team revealed that searches for “candle making kit” had grown by 300% year over year.

Spotlight on: Working out

The Google Ads Research and Insights team also found that searches for “walking trail near me” had grown by 100% globally year-over-year. Meanwhile, a fall 2020 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Everest revealed that a quarter of people had taken up hiking in state and national parks. Hiking isn’t the only way people have been getting exercise, either; the OnePoll survey also found that one in three respondents had started biking in their neighborhoods, while two in ten had been running on community trails. When bike shortages hit, outdoor experts dubbed it the “pandemic bike boom.”

In 2021, commercial photographers can visualize current fitness trends by capturing people enjoying the great outdoors or even working out at home. Maybe you organize a shoot around the concept of a virtual yoga class, or set up some self-portraits of your at-home exercise routine. As with all your shoots, remember to include people of all backgrounds, abilities, and ages; although seniors have been overlooked for far too long in commercial photography, brands are increasingly turning to more inclusive visuals of people over 55.

Spotlight on: Gardening

Gardening has been popular in commercial photography for years now; in 2018, for example, searches for patterned plants rose 533% on Pinterest, and the Creative Insights team at Getty Images pointed to popular hashtags like #plantaddict and #girlswithplants as the dawn of a new trend. Of course, 2020 only accelerated the home gardening movement, with seed stores reporting record sales.

Like baking, gardening proved to be a calming outlet for many during a trying period. And this hobby isn’t going away anytime soon. A survey from Axium Marketing at the start of this year found that 86% of homeowners plan to continue gardening in 2021, and 47% percent say they will be planting more and expanding their garden spaces next season. Garden photoshoots also resonate this year due to heightened interest in sustainability and conservation, so feel free to hit the backyard or visit a local park for a timely lifestyle session with neighbors and friends.

“Commercial content that features some of these trending hobbies is a great addition to your portfolio, keeps your content relevant and timely, and will appeal to content buyers looking to take advantage of these contemporary trends,” the 500px Content Team tells us. When shooting lifestyle photos, collaborate with friends, family, and other models to capture hobbies that resonate with them personally. The more comfortable your model is with the activity, the more opportunities you’ll have for natural, candid moments.

For inspiration, study advertising campaigns from brands you admire. Consider, for instance, Airbnb’s use of photos of travelers enjoying a kayaking trip, Etsy’s spot featuring a mother and son bonding over a game of chess, or Facebook’s “House Plant Hobbyist” commercial. Get creative with your ideas, and tap into your own passions and interests for a relatable, documentary-style approach to photographing hobbies.

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