The Download: Episode 4

  Events - Past

Creating Impact with Sustainable Visuals

The global pandemic has changed attitudes and shifted priorities…But through it all sustainability has remained important to consumers. What does this mean for your brand’s marketing and communications now and in the year to come? Join our panel of visual experts for our final episode of 2021 as they:

  •  Dive into our Visual GPS research to report on what consumers are saying about sustainability
  •   Discuss how showing a commitment to sustainable practices can drive results
  •   And share some ideas for stretching this year’s budget into next year’s creative

Plus, Live Q&A covering all your Premium Access, Getty Images, and sustainability questions


You mentioned that Custom Content is a sustainable choice for creating visuals. Can you elaborate on that?

Traditional photo shoots involve us flying people in from multiple locations. You get a large crew and they have quite a large carbon footprint as a result. But Custom Content utilizes our global community of creatives to deliver RF and exclusive content at scale. That means that our photographers and videographers don’t need to travel very far to create the shoots that they do for us: normally within five to 10 miles of their home. And they’re working with local models and their local community in a really sustainable way that’s benefiting that local economy as well.

All our shoots are paperless with digital model and location releases, and our submission, selection and delivery process is also all digital too. If you’re looking for exclusive content, shot to your brand guidelines, Custom Content is a great way for us to do that for you sustainably.

How is Getty Images doing its part when it comes to sustainability?

Concerning technology, we as a company are working with technology and storage partners that are currently using renewable energy, and they are using sustainable practices. This is something that allows us as a company to reduce our server based footprint by more than 90 percent if we are comparing this number to 2019. When it comes to our operational footprint, as you know, Getty Images is a global company, and we have our people all over the world. So it means that we are flying less often, we fly fewer people, and this is something that is reducing considerably our operational carbon footprint.

When it comes to our creative content with custom solutions that are assigned to our local contributors, we are limiting our travel footprint. It’s very important to remember our mission at Getty Images. As we are moving the world through visuals, we are actively spreading the sustainable message through our content, and through our partnerships, because our mission is to create this meaningful and sustainable impact at scale.

How do you move away from visual cliches like polar bears?

The visuals of polar bears and visuals of ice melting are very important to raise awareness around climate urgency. However, if we are looking at this topic from our Visual GPS research point of view, we know that what is also very important right now in imagery is to inspire people into action through visual storytelling.

Thanks to our Visual GPS study, we know that people are ready to do more for sustainability. We know that they want to include sustainable lifestyle in their daily lives. But what they actually need right now is education, and they want brands to show them more practical ways to include sustainability into their daily lives.

That means showing sustainability that is more personal, includes real people, and shows actions that each of us can take. Eventually, if we can embark a lot of people in that journey, that sustainable journey, we can create wider, impact at scale further in the future.

I'm looking at some FMCG product placement shoots that we're planning around. Can you tell me how it works with Custom Content?

We love shooting products, and our photographers love shooting products as well. It’s a great part of what Custom Content is able to do in a really affordable way. There are a lot of different ways we can shoot fast moving consumer goods in particular, if those are available over the counter, globally or locally. If you’re looking for regionality, in brand or in copy and packaging, our photographers can source those products locally and shoot them for you.

The process starts with a brief. We need to understand what your needs are and what products we’re shooting. Are we shooting still life product only or do you want these with models and in lifestyle scenarios? We work our way through that with you, find out what you need. And then, either our photographers will source those products themselves, if they’re easy to source, or if it’s a new product that you’re launching and you need to ship those products, we work through you to get those products to our photographers.

Obviously, if we can get them locally, it’s more sustainable. And as with most custom content shoots, once we have the product in hands of our photographers, it’s about a four-week turnaround. The content you receive will be fully released except for brand, which is the brand that you’re featuring. Plus, the only brands visible in the shot will be the ones you want us to feature.

How have sustainability visuals changed during COVID with all of us staying at home?

At Getty Images, we were very fast to create content that reflected this new pandemic reality that we are still facing, unfortunately. What was interesting to see from our research perspective, was to see how brands actually turned to sustainable messaging during the pandemic. When we investigated the visual appetite around sustainability and its evolution, during the pandemic, we have seen, for example, sustainable businesses going up by 75 percent in March 2020 alone at the start of the pandemic.

What we also see in the visual appetite evolution, were visuals showing zero waste as a concept and as a part of circular economy, with visual shift from focusing on non-people content such as polar bears and ice melting towards more sustainable stories around home and small businesses. For us as the researchers, it was very interesting to see how sustainability stands its ground despite the pandemic. It’s giving us a wider story about how sustainability is important to our customers right now because it was interesting to see how brands looked to reflect this new reality of the pandemic context, but still by incorporating sustainable messages in their visuals.

Where can we find more Visual GPS insights?

If you’re on the main screen of Getty Images or on your search screen, there’s a little menu on the upper left hand corner. Click that and there will be in the drop down menu that says Creative Insights which will take you right to the Creative Insights page.

From there, you can scroll, and there’s a lot on the Creative Insights page about all our trends and Visual GPS forces. There are spotlights on contributors and specific shoots, and if you want to home in on sustainability, click on the trends, and you’ll be able to click right on Sustainability and then see all of the articles specifically related to this theme right within that window, as well as the overall Visual GPS update on the whole topic of sustainability. There is a downloadable PDF that you can save right to your desktop. You can also find localized insights because we are writing around sustainability globally.

Can we hire local photographers via Getty Images, but shoot at our locations with our models?

Yes, absolutely. We are able to work with you locally, and shoot on your locations with our photographers. It’s a different model from shooting with the community, because that’s really about them finding locations and models that fit your brief.

If you need to use a specific space and work with your staff, it’s absolutely something we can do. In fact, we have a series of shoots in factories coming up over the next couple of weeks, doing exactly that.

Rachel Brinton Matthews

As Senior Art Director at Getty Images, Rachel Brinton Matthews manages a roster of exclusive filmmakers, photographers, and partners expertly guiding them in developing the aesthetic—and depth—of the company’s video content. She also manages the Getty Images’ Boutique Partnerships initiative, working with global creative collectives from underrepresented communities.

Before Getty Images, Rachel worked as Footage Manager at Bridgeman Images, setting up their film archive and growing their collection. Rachel began her career as a production assistant and freelance video researcher after earning a First-Class Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies from Kingston University and a Masters in Film Aesthetics from Oxford University.