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Growing up with iStock

By Lon Parker, iStock Lead Video Inspector

The visual documentation of life events can possibly be considered as a generalized, catch-all description for stock imagery and video. More specifically, it can best describe one of the industry’s more important aspects. At times this imagery can be conceptual in execution, wild experiments in design and challenging juxtapositions of form and function. Other times life is expressed in more prosaic terms as events, similar to our own lives, packaged in familiar settings with family and friends.

We find a connection to this imagery and video because people like you and me — our neighbors, friends and family — produce it. They choose to document their own life experiences and what is real and important for them, which, by extension, touches on universal themes. These experiences cross borders, nationalities and cultures because they speak to the heart and relate to all of us. Vacations to the beach, road trips through the desert, visits to grandparents or a quiet night at home are all documented from their own unique but familiar perspective. They do so because it is in part what the stock content market craves: reality.

We find a connection to this imagery and video because people like you and me — our neighbors, friends and family — produce it.

Many contributors are so thorough in capturing the nuances of their individual world that, as you journey through their portfolio, from their earliest files to those most recently uploaded, you can actually become acquainted with their lives. You will meet their family and friends and join them on holiday. You will experience their victories and some of their defeats.

Perhaps even more interestingly, you may see their children grow up as well. In many instances right from those first days as an infant, first steps, first doctor visits and first days in school. Because they strike a familiar chord with our own experience, we can connect on a personal level. We are allowed to share the experiences and events of childhood that we can all relate to. It presents a unique opportunity to witness a familiar face and experience the many events and signposts of their young lives. We are privileged to view literally years of life within the files of a single portfolio.

See what it's like to grow up with iStock.

This phenomenon can be applied to their portfolio as a whole, where through the years their talent and proficiency as an artist matures. They are reactive to developments in cameras and software. Ideas and concepts build from vague renderings to fully developed productions. Within frames and images, they capture developments in technology, fashion and the evolving whims of personal style. Portfolios respond to the changing demographics and ethics of our world. Tattoos and piercings become more ubiquitous, hemlines go up and down and taboos lose some of their danger. Even content once deemed innocuous, when updated, is framed within the perspective of the evolving popular language.

Portfolios respond to the changing demographics and ethics of our world.

We have indeed been able to watch many individuals literally grow up in front of the cameras of our contributors. We have also witnessed the collection evolve as a visual reference to the timeline of our changing world. While the universal experiences of our lives do not change, the how, who and why surely does. This may be one of the more interesting elements that speak to the value of the iStock collection as a living time capsule. That is how it reacts to be a barometer to the evolving influences on our visual language. And just as our world continues to evolve, the collection will continue to react and to grow to truly reflect the vision of our family of contributors.

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