Seth Stevenson in Slate:
A while back, a friend of mine—a guy who does a lot of directing work—was asked to shoot some rather odd film footage. It was all brief scenes of people ignoring each other. Families talking on cell phones, couples tapping at adjacent laptops, everyone looking in opposite directions.
These vignettes were commissioned by a company that sells stock photos and video to various clients—including, in large part, advertisers. The hope was that footage like this would appeal to customers who need to visually convey a mood of modern disconnectedness. Leaving aside the bleak and omnipresent nature of the subject matter—they could have just put a tripod on a random street corner—I was startled to realize that stock photo and video purveyors actually create material in anticipation of demand. (I’d somehow failed to consider that stock pictures could be made, not just found.) These suppliers of the world’s commercial imagery are making bets on what life will look and feel like in the near future. Which made me wonder: What else, besides an ongoing technological dystopia, do they imagine waiting ahead?
To learn more, I got in touch with the creative research department at Getty Images—a major player in the “visual content distribution” field.