Using Authentic Photography: Best Real Images 2020

Forget staged stock images and stand out from the crowd with original photographs that document real people, places and everyday experiences.

Authentic Photography Best Real Images
Portrait for Helen AlexanderBy Helen Alexander  |  Updated May 6, 2022

Posed models versus an authentic photograph of a real-life moment in time? The answer’s a no-brainer if you want your creative project to have an impact on your intended audience. But just what is authentic stock photography and how can it elevate your website, presentation slides, social media channels, and more?

What is Authentic Photography?

To appreciate authentic photography, let’s first define stock photography. Both terms refer to images that can be licensed to individuals and organisations for any number of editorial, creative and marketing projects. However, traditional stock photos tend to be over-styled and shot in a studio with models as their subjects, while authentic photos feature real people – like someone taking a jaw-dropping selfie – and actual events – such as the New Year’s Eve firework display in Sydney Harbour.

Why Use Authentic Photography?

You want people to believe in your brand, and using authentic photography can help build that credibility. Whoever your audience is, using images of everyday experiences and events that are instantly recognisable and believable will immediately establish their trust. You remove the risk of a competitor using the same shot and avoid any cringe-worthy captures being turned into an embarrassing meme, which might just see you gaining attention for all the wrong reasons. 

Whatever photography styles are currently trending, you’re sure to find the shot you are searching for among the Collections on Twenty20 and the library of authentic photography on Envato Elements. You can get access to download any of the images featured with a subscription to Envato Elements.

When looking for the perfect picture, check out some of the most popular themes of 2020 below:

1. Social Activism

From rainbow-colored Pride parades to climate strikes led by schoolchildren, Twenty20’s Activism collection is packed with photographs of people coming together to celebrate their community or to demand change – like the emotive images that arose from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that swept the world in 2020. Demonstrate your allyship or shine a light on a particular cause with this curated collection of images that are all about standing up for what you believe in. 

2. Cultural Diversity

Ethnicity, social class, religion, gender, sexual orientation – there are no barriers to inclusion in the Diverse People collection. This handpicked selection of images unites people from all around the world, depicting diverse social gatherings and LGBTQ+ relationships while also offering a glimpse into the lives, customs and traditions of an array of different cultures and communities.

3. Women Empowerment

‘You see a girl. We see the future.’ For brands who want to wear their heart on their sleeve (or share an inspiring t-shirt slogan) the Female Empowerment collection is all about smashing stereotypes, whether that’s in the playground, on the sports field or in the boardroom. Expect images of the Women’s March and girls being taught STEM subjects in this round-up of positive imagery celebrating gender equality. For more busting-the-glass-ceiling inspiration, the Business Women collection focuses on female leaders and entrepreneurs.

4. Disability and Mental Health

From battling depression to not letting a disability get in the way of your enjoyment of everyday activities, authentic photographs depict life as it’s really experienced. That means not shying away from issues such as mental health and wheelchair accessibility, as well as sharing images of some of the challenges and obstacles that many people face. These Twenty20 and Envato Elements collections are great for charities and fundraising initiatives looking to raise awareness, and individuals and organisations who are committed to inclusivity. 

5. Positive Ageing

Demonstrating that you are never too old to embark on a new adventure, the Seniors collection celebrates all kinds of silver surfers – from authentic images of older people riding waves to grey-haired grandparents getting to grips with new technology. Speak to an older demographic that’s intent on enjoying life – and believe age is just a number – with these uplifting and inspiring depictions of active seniors, retirees, mature adults and baby boomers.

6. Real Beauty

From the ‘I woke up like this’ selfie trend to the minimalist make-up that’s favored by many millennials, more and more people want to see realistic images of Natural Beauty. This Twenty20 collection is about stripped-back skincare routines and embracing our imperfections – freckles and all. Alongside portraits of youthful fresh faces and mature subjects who are happy to age naturally and embrace their wrinkles, Twenty20 is also home to images of raw beauty that can be found in the most unexpected of places – like a graffiti-strewn alley.

7. Authentic Travel

Add a splash of wanderlust to your next creative project with authentic photographs from the Twenty20 Travel collection, which are guaranteed to have people reaching for their suitcase and hitting the road (travel restrictions permitted). Trains, planes and tuk-tuks appear among the modes of transportation, while destinations range from the sparkling skyscrapers of Dubai to the remote Scottish Highlands. Forget generic sandy beaches and unidentifiable cityscapes, these are real images sourced from photographers based around the world.

8. Real Life

If you are looking for the kind of shots that look like they were snapped with a smartphone during a fun evening out, which might or might not have featured a mirror ball and an impromptu karaoke session, then you’ve come to the right place. Real relationships are front and centre in the Family Life collection, as well as candid captures of romantic moments, kitchen creativity and birthday celebrations. Mothers, husbands, aunties, toddlers, stepbrothers, sisters from another mister… you’ll find multi-generational gatherings and plenty of BFFs here.

Find authentic photography with a subscription to Envato Elements, which includes access photos and collections from Twenty20. And, for more creative ideas and visual inspiration, subscribe to the Envato YouTube channel

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