Last year, made headlines with a marketing campaign unlike any other: in January, the travel website designed and opened 20 “New Year’s resolution” suites in New York City, available to book for just $20.20. Each suite had a different resolution theme, from being more active to becoming more financially savvy. For many marketers, every new year offers a new opportunity to refresh, get creative, and reconnect with customers over what matters most: their goals and values.

While New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition for many, they’ve seen a spike in popularity in recent years, with data from the market research company Bizrate Insights revealing that younger generations are more likely to make or intend to make resolutions. 30% of shoppers made resolutions in 2020, up from 27% in 2019. Importantly, Bizrate Insights surveys revealed that, in 2020, shoppers were more likely to look to their favorite brands for help in accomplishing their goals.

Heading into 2021, brands will continue to look for inspiring ways to visualize their customers’ goals and aspirations, but with many unable to commission outside shoots due to the pandemic, resolution-themed commercial stock photography will likely see a boost in demand. Here are five trending themes to incorporate into your upcoming photoshoots and upload to your Licensing portfolio in the New Year.


In 2020, Bizrate Insights found that health-related resolutions were the most popular among shoppers. It’s no coincidence that throughout the year, photos relating to health and wellness have soared in popularity; over on Getty Images, searches for “yoga at home” and “meditation at home” went up by 1,160% and 5,900%, respectively.

While health and wellness might look different during a pandemic, it’s also never been more important. In past years, visualizing health and fitness might have meant getting a property release to shoot in your local gym; now, you can stage these kinds of shoots at home, while also tapping into the role of technology in our everyday lives.

Virtual workout sessions and live-streamed fitness classes are here to stay — according to a survey conducted this summer from the health and fitness company BeachBody, nine out of ten Americans who exercise regularly say they will continue with at-home workouts even after they feel comfortable returning to a gym.

Remember to include all ages in your health-themed images as well. In June, the Getty Images Creative Insights team named the “senior wellness revolution” as one of their top trends, with research showing that Boomers are 40% more likely than Gen Zers to say they are intentional and mindful in their choices. Year on year, they noticed significant increases in searches for terms like “active seniors,” “healthy seniors,” and “seniors exercising.” In 2021, we expect to see more continuing interest in visual portrayals of seniors practicing wellness, fitness, and self-care.

Personal Development

With 91% of consumers saying it’s important to talk about mental health, more brands have looked for meaningful ways to support and discuss mental health awareness across their marketing and advertising. This push for real-life, authentic representation has extended into the world of commercial photography; on Getty Images, for instance, customer searches for “online therapy” increased by 1130%, as people look for new ways to cope during a pandemic.

Photoshoots that speak to the importance of maintaining mental health tie into health-related New Year’s resolutions, but they also help visualize “personal development” resolutions, which accounted for the second most popular type of goal among shoppers surveyed by Bizrate Insights in 2020. Personal development is a broad theme, so commercial photographers can explore it in many different ways, from meditation and yoga-themed shoots to therapy-themed sessions and beyond.

“Personal development” could also extend to include educational resolutions, like trying something new or learning a skill. In the spring of 2020, amid lockdowns, Google searches for “online courses” and “free online courses” skyrocketed; in the first week of April, LinkedIn reported that people watched 1.7 million hours of video on LinkedIn learning, a marked increase from the 560,000 hours seen in the first week of January. When creating content in the New Year, consider aspirational concepts related to education and learning, including online classes, studying, and more.


Last year, Bizrate Insights’ research revealed that financial resolutions were also popular and saw an increase since 2019, suggesting that retailers who targeted budget-minded shoppers were likely to attract customers. In December 2019, a different survey from GOBankingRates found that nearly half of Americans wanted to spend less money and pay off debt heading into 2020.

In 2021, financial resolutions are likely to take on new significance in the wake of the pandemic. A survey from NerdWallet and The Harris Poll, released in June, showed that almost half (48%) of Americans are feeling less confident about their personal finances, while over one-third of Americans (36%) plan to use or have used their stimulus check to save and/or invest; 75% plan to take financial action after the pandemic ends, with the most popular actions being saving more in an emergency fund and spending less on nonessentials.

“For commercial photographers, it can be difficult to illustrate concepts like saving or investing, but there are still creative ways of capturing content with financial context,” the 500px Content Team tells us. “Some of these ways might include showing someone paying their bills or saving change with a piggy bank; a still life image with adult rain boots next to children’s could represent the concept of ‘saving for a rainy day’ and similar financial goals.”

When submitting this kind of content to Licensing, keywording and metadata are essential. In addition to your literal keywords (e.g., “piggy bank”, “paying bills”, etc.), remember to include conceptual terms like “investing in the future”, “paying off debt”, or “saving for retirement.”


2020 undoubtedly brought the importance of family into sharper focus. This summer, research revealed that, during lockdown, 75% of Americans witnessed a key moment that they otherwise might have missed in their child’s life. These moments ranged from meeting new family members for the first time to having heart-to-heart conversations.

Beyond that, 66% of those who participated in the survey said that the pandemic has brought them closer to their families than ever before. 29% learned how to cook new family recipes, and 41% said they’d eaten more meals as a family or with members of their household.

Spending more time with family has always been a popular New Year’s resolution, and 2021 offers photographers a unique opportunity to capture these ordinary, everyday moments at home. Instead of generic, posed portraits of smiling families, brands in the new year will look for slice-of-life, documentary-style images.

Look for genuine emotions and relatable “micro-moments” like brushing teeth, sitting down for breakfast, or tying shoelaces. Aim for natural and candid rather than formal and rigid. “Capture real families as they go about their lives,” the Content Team advises. “Everyone may not be smiling, but they are being real.” Finally, seek inspiration in your own life and family; documenting your days and routines will lend your images an authenticity that can’t be faked.


New Year’s travel resolutions are always in vogue, but following an unprecedented year, our travel-related resolutions will look different than they have in years past. Instead of faraway trips to crowded destinations, we’ll continue to see local travel and staycations trending in commercial photography; think more road trips, less air travel. We’ll also see a demand for photos of sustainable, eco-friendly travel, as well as solo travel and backpacking, camping, or hiking with immediate family.

Look close to home for your commercial travel photoshoots; local parks or trails are public property and can make for lifestyle pictures that are at once relevant and timeless. Highlight your favorite local cuisine, or visit the less-crowded neighborhoods surrounding your city. Browse social media and Google Earth for inspiration and new location ideas. 2021 will be a year of finding hidden gems, even those tucked away in our own backyards.

“While many might assume New Year’s resolutions begin and end at gym memberships, they are so much more than that,” the Content Team explains. “These trending resolutions reflect the overall values of consumers, and shooting content that connects with and represents these kinds of values and goals is a great way to build a commercial collection.”

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