Introducing Brianna Wettlaufer, Adobe Stock’s New Head of Content
Brianna Wettlaufer is a self-taught photographer, a stock industry pioneer, and the new head of content for Adobe Stock. We talked to her about her unusual childhood hobby of curating magazine clippings, what it was like to start her own stock agency, and why she thinks stock is shedding its stereotypes and inspiring the creative community more than ever.
Welcome to Adobe, Brianna! Can you tell us a little bit about discovering your passion for photography, and how you found your way into the stock world?
Photography and visual trends were an obsession for me when I was a kid, back when all you had was magazines. By the time I was a teenager I was trying to analyze what made a photo captivating and unique. How could an image say more by saying less? In order to crack the code, I kept banker boxes—every month I would get my magazines and tear out all the best photos. I’d sort them by style, subject, and color.
My love of design blossomed in high school. By the late 90s, with the accessibility of online stock collections, I had a new library at my fingertips. I used it to dive deeper into what was happening with design. I started hanging out on stock sites, memorizing collections.
Working as a creative director, I took the leap to begin taking photos for the business and I was hooked. That led me to joining iStock, later taking the reins of the content team, and with the CEO, ushering in a new era of creators beginning a new chapter in stock. It’s been an amazing journey watching the industry continue to evolve and am always thankful to be apart of it.
What was it like to build Stocksy United from the ground up?
After the sale of iStock, I stayed in touch with artists in the community. I kept hearing how disenfranchised they felt. That they didn’t have a voice. They weren’t inspired anymore. They felt like they didn’t have a direction.
Stocksy’s goal was to course correct, to put the power back in the artists’ hands. We asked, how do we give artists a place where they feel represented?
Around this time, stock was feeling pretty stagnant. Pinterest and Instagram were capturing real moments, but none of this was reflected in stock collections yet. So that was another part of our mission—to leave our historical content behind and move forward with a new aesthetic that would get everyone excited, including clients.
The stock community began photographing real people we could all feel connected to, and it was starting to break down some of the stereotypes and clichés. We were addressing the ways that people didn’t feel represented in marketing materials—different body shapes, colors, and sizes—and making it a place where the content made you feel good.
Why did you want to join Adobe Stock?
Adobe has been a big part of my life since I was 16 and first taught myself Photoshop and began a lifelong career in tech. Consistently Adobe has always been there as a creative industry leader that echoes the values and ethics of artists and drives inspiration and innovation among the creative community.
When Adobe entered the stock industry, it felt like such an opportunity. Today, I want to continue to grow the community and create an inspiring place where people can work together. It’s my goal to make sure we are always evolving, growing, and pushing beyond comfort zones, assumptions, and expectations at Adobe Stock.
What are your leadership principles?
It’s critical that the people creating the product are actually using and experiencing it from both the artist and client perspectives. Regardless of what department you’re in, what seniority or skills you bring to the table, all voices bring a valuable perspective.
Happy teams often come from ownership and empowerment. When we can explain complex ideas with simple solutions that have buy-in from everyone, and put artists, community, and integrity in balance with the business, we can all feel proud and sleep soundly at night.
What’s your vision for Adobe Stock? Where do you think the industry is headed?
Stock isn’t taboo and it’s visible in almost every aspect of our daily lives. We know it’s there. We all use it. So we’re in an interesting growth period where stock is shedding its stereotypes and becoming a vital part of today’s visual culture.
My hope for Adobe Stock is that we keep breaking down those misconceptions, and that we create a place where all people, across levels of experience, tastes, and styles, can get excited and feel included.
Which trends in the stock industry excite you most right now? Why?
It’s become so easy to create photos, videos and even websites thanks to templates. Having a voice and identity in design and media is pushing us to expand our skills to continue our narrative. And Adobe is still developing new tools and apps that expand that horizon and break down even more barriers. As a beginner in video, right now, I’m really excited about tools that make video creation less intimidating. Have a look at Adobe’s Premiere Rush and Motion Graphics Templates, join me in experimenting and let us know how it goes!
As a photographer yourself, what advice would you give to Adobe Stock contributors?
If you start to stagnate as a stock creator, don’t just look at existing stock. Look to the art world, visit museums, pay attention to politics. Look at design trends to think about your color palettes. The tried-and-true subjects like family, business, and health are consistent, but how you approach them can evolve in fresh new ways.
Building a successful portfolio comes with consistency and treating it as a business. Develop your brand, network online, and be clear about what you uniquely bring to the market.