Authentic Stock Footage: The Top Visual Trend + 3 Premium Agencies to Buy It

Authentic imagery, authentic style… you've likely heard these terms lately. Authentic stock footage is one of the hottest visual trends today. It's a style that has been gaining ground for years, and it didn't take long until it landed in the stock video industry. If you have not yet explored it, as a videographer you're missing out big time.

Fortunately, you don't need to surf the web and explore thousands of collections to find and buy authentic stock videos. Here we list the top 3 cheapest stock footage agencies with dedicated authentic style collections, so you can ride the authentic wave with video content.

But let's start from the beginning. What is authentic stock footage? Why is it so popular? Why do people like it that much?

We have the answers. And once you know them, you likely will want to check our stock video footage agencies list and adopt this style right away.

What is Authentic Stock Footage?

Traditional Stock compared to Authentic Stock

Storyblocks comparison “Traditional Stock vs. Authentic Stock”

Authentic stock footage shows people and situations in a realistic, spontaneous, and natural-looking staging.

This is the superficial aspect of this style on stock video clips, and it's easy to guess by simple observation. Plus it's everywhere, so it's easy to spot and identify it.

As said, you should be familiar with it, as it's largely used in advertising and marketing to the consumer market. Most big brands use this style in their commercials, and particularly in their social media marketing campaigns.

It's a style that directly antagonizes with traditional stock media style, that bases on heavily-produced shots, using perfect-looking models in generic and perfectly assembled stages.

A Deeper Level of Authentic

The true, good authentic video is a modern take on life and society. It's about showing people with diverse characteristics in real situations of our everyday life. It's about better representing human-related concepts like gender identity and gender roles, life choices, health and well-being, technology, business, and community, in the way we experience them.

The classical “stocky” content is often limited to traditional perspectives and topics: picture-perfect Caucasian families, smiling business people in suits shaking hands, etc.

Authentic stock covers a wide range of themes, with modern perspective:

  • Unconventional beauty and common people
  • Culturally diverse families
  • Same-gender couples
  • Interracial relationships and groups
  • People with special abilities
  • Startup business environments
  • Artistic or creative activities
  • Men and women in equal roles
  • Outdoors & healthy activities
  • People interacting with animals and nature
  • People of all ages using modern technology
  • Senior citizens performing active life activities

And much, much more.

It's important to note that while the authentic style looks for realism and variety in people and situations, there's still production work behind it, and most aesthetic parameters still apply. You will still find conventionally beautiful people depicted, and very high-quality, professional shots.

The difference is in the focus on authenticity, and in the introduction of diversity in models and topics.

Why is Authentic Stock Footage So Popular?

The use of authentic style in branding, advertising, and marketing has been rising for a few years. As a result, demand for authentic stock footage suitable for commercial use has also grown among video editors and creatives, reaching now higher and relevant levels, to the point that most big agencies are bringing it to their platforms.

The reason behind so many videomarketers and producers are interested in the authentic style is that many of the latest market researches and studies point out that audiences connect better with it. And experience has proven it to be true.

Now, there are different opinions on the reasons why people engage more in authentic visual content than they do in the picture-perfect style. But there's consensus on the main ones:

Social Life Gone Tech

Explosion of Social Media Networks
The evolution in technology and its landing in the massive consumer market, particularly social media apps, have deeply transformed the way we live, interact with others, and consume products and services. Perspective and needs have changed, and these interactive platforms give consumers a greater, powerful voice in the market.

In this context, the kind of content they produce and share themselves is the kind of content they prefer.

If visuals have since long been crucial in marketing, the boom of mobile photography grew this relevance exponentially. Suddenly, everybody can take photos and videos all the time, for any given reason. And thanks to the explosion of social networks, they can also share them with the world instantaneously. Moreover, the most popular and faster-growing social platforms of this time are heavily image-related: Instagram and Snapchat.

This has made the world a gazillion times more visual than it used to be and has put a lot more power in the voice of the masses and every individual in them. Now it's possible for creatives and audiences to interact, to give and receive feedback. The public now has greater control over the content brands, creatives, and artists create for them.

Human Factor: Emotion and Identification

Art Imitates Life
Videos that appear to be spontaneous, imperfect and natural, are preferred by viewers over heavily produced, professional clips. In a time where the everyday life of the common people is more visible and accessible than ever, viewers connect to a higher level with people, scenes, and scenarios that look more “like them”.

The massive amount of mobile-shot video pushed through social networks, the huge success of Instagram with its “natural-style” image-enhancing filters, are at the same time a reason and proof of the popularity of authentic stock footage.

The picture-perfect look of traditional stock video and old-school video production is now often perceived as fake, and sometimes that leads to rejection. While certain parameters related to beauty and aesthetic values are still strongly sustained, viewers no longer engage in images that look too staged and too different from their own life.

Getty Images has pointed that the two most popular styles within authentic stock are “point-of-view” and “technically imperfect” images. Both trends reflect the potential for viewers to identify themselves and their own images with what they see on screen.

Evolution of Social Parameters

Evolution of Social Concepts
Our times' society is way too different from what it used to be a few years ago. We now live in a global society where different cultures and ethnicities coexist and interact with each other, and people connect better to footage that represents this accurately.

The roles in society and the relationships between individuals have changed. Families are no longer heterosexual couples with biological children, businessmen and women are no longer 30-somethings wearing suits in glass-wall offices, women are no longer exclusively mothers and housewives, men are no longer exclusively home providers.

The audience wants footage that represents that more accurately. And there's proof. Storyblocks recently shared internal market research they did, which pointed out that their most sought keywords for people in 2016 were “family”, “LGBT”, “diversity” and “friends”. Other keywords in high demand were for international locations, particularly Turkey, and in lifestyle topics, there was an increase in searches for “fitness” and “technology”.

Where to Find Authentic Stock Footage?

Now you know how well this kind of footage performs with the audience, you know it's a wise choice to use it in your own productions, to ensure you'll reach your viewers, transmit your message and get them to take action.

Of course, you can shoot your own footage, aiming for a realistic feel and trying to mimic mobile-shot style but with a professional approach. But even then, you'll need stock video sites to source stock footage to boost up your production value. You can learn the why's and how's to do this here.

There are several stock footage agencies offering content with authentic aesthetics, that is high quality and safe to use in your projects, without attribution required, and affordable:

Storyblocks: The Authentic Collection

Authentic Stock Footage: The Top Visual Trend + 3 Premium Agencies to Buy It 1Storyblocks (previously known as Videoblocks) is a stock footage company famous for its unlimited downloads membership offer. Their footage is super cheap, high quality, and Royalty Free, three factors to make them a popular choice amongst videomakers. You can find out more about them in our Storyblocks review. 

Following their market research mentioned above, in 2016 Storyblocks launched their The Authentic Collection, featuring 1,500 high quality clips (from HD to 4K) covering different topics around the concepts of diversity and authenticity. And it's also replicated in their still images and stock music platforms.


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Not conforming with this, at the end of 2019 they also launched the Re:Stock project, a collection sourced from underrepresented communities, focused on the authentic representation of said segments. Their commitment was to reach 20% of their stock footage of people to be of diverse models from multiple minorities. Adding content of black and BIPOC people first, then videos and images representing the LGBTQAI+ community, and more recently this year, content showcasing indigenous communities from North America, the Re:Stock collection has now reached that 20% representation and it's full of realistic and valuable videos.

The Authentic Collection and the Re:Stock collection are both parts of Storyblocks' wholly-owned library, which is available for members only. All are Royalty Free stock footage clips, and available for commercial and editorial use.

Storyblocks' membership gives you unlimited downloads. You can hire a multimedia downloads plan for $30 a month, billed annually, or go for a video-only subscription (also with unlimited access) for $25 a month, billed upfront for one year. 

Join Storyblocks to explore more. And now you can save 57% on your annual membership with our special Storyblocks Promo Code!

Stocksy Video

stocksy-logo-300x223Stocksy, a young and popular stock photography agency with a remarked artistic feel, has recently joined the stock footage market with a dedicated video collection.

Stocksy Video features exclusive stock footage clips with an artsy and authentic feel, far from the traditional stock look. The collection is highly curated and prevails production value and artistic level of the content. They sell them under Royalty Free license, but they add the possibility of buying exclusive usage rights with their Market Freeze extended license (which comes at a much higher cost).

All the clips are available to buy a la carte. They come in HD and up to 4K resolution, and they offer graded and ungraded versions:

  • HD 720p $75
  • HD1080p graded $175 – ungraded $275
  • 4K graded $300 – ungraded $400

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If your project has a higher artistic aesthetics, you can find the complementary, royalty free stock videos you need at Stocksy Video.


Dissolve: Filmmaker Collection

Screenshot from Dissolve Filmmaker Collection

Screenshot from Dissolve Filmmaker Collection

dissolve-logoDissolve is a stock footage agency that focuses on the premium end. Their library is full of highly artistic video content (including after effects templates, slow-motion clips, and much more) from consummated professionals. Learn more about the agency in our Dissolve review.

They have recently added content in the authentic stock footage trend with their new Filmmaker collection. This is an exclusive, curated selection of over 10,000 clips from talented filmmakers, created for their own commercial and personal projects. The collection features lots of videos covering topics like lifestyle, nature, outdoors, landscape, animals, and much more. They are all high-level productions that represent current themes with a realistic perspective.

Most of these videos are Royalty Free, at $199 for HD quality and $499 for 4K.  There's a small percentage of clips available with Rights Managed license as well, starting at $200. In both cases, the videos are available a la carte only.

If you have a taste for artistic footage and are after authentic stock, Dissolve may have what you want.

Use Authentic Stock Footage to Raise your Video's Quality

Authentic style can likely get your viewers more engaged in your production. It's the aesthetics that better resounds with them and better connects with their emotions.

Shooting with this style can be a smart business choice if your goal is to reach the audience as effectively as possible –and it should be–. But complementary shots and B-roll footage are very necessary to produce a superior and appealing video or film that viewers would be interested in watching.

Authentic stock footage is a great solution to produce highly engaging and professional-like videos. You can adapt it to your own style, and do something original that maintains the style and feel of authenticity.

What do you say? Are you giving it a shot?

Amos Struck
Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus in providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography, like the PixelRockstar WordPress Plugin. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

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