Stock Trends: Opioid Crisis in the USA

As Rocky Balboa said, “The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows” and unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years you’ll know that the US is experiencing an opioid crisis. Opioids are high-addictive prescription pain-killers and illegal substances including heroin and derivatives of heroin.

Governors in six states have already declared emergencies to deal with opioids with some calling it an “epidemic”. These include: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Massachusetts and Virginia. These substances are claiming up to 90 lives a day.


This is a tough post to draft since some may criticize me for being a “mercenary” who is only interested in “profiting from others’ misfortune”. I disagree with this assessment, since I’m neither the cause nor the solution to the opioid problem, I just report on the facts. In doing so, I may indirectly assist to highlight the issues in various types of media, which may bring more awareness to the issue and influence policy-makers. Don’t shoot the messenger!

I don’t go out of my way to look for junkies and if I were in a situation where someone was overdosing I would of course put my camera down and immediately request medical assistance. Lastly, I do not condone or accept any illegal behaviour, such as drug usage. Ok, good that we now have got this sorted and onto my workflow.

A Strong Stock Trend

For reasons mentioned above, I feel this is a strong stock trend. I wrote an earlier post on the importance of following stock trends – you can read it with this link.

I was digging through my archives and came across some images of a photo-shoot back in 2013. The purpose was to experiment with some new lighting equipment. My friend and I used completely “fake-looking” drugs…the syringe is full of a tobacco substance, the lines are sugar…the only real substance was the cannabis, which is not illegal to possess for personal usage in the Netherlands (and interestingly enough in some US States which adds to this trend).

However, the lighting end result was poor and most of the images were rejected. Today I’ve re-submitted a short selection to Alamy, Shutterstock and Fotolia and hopefully they should get through. On a side note, it’s been 4 years and I have an inkling that QC standards have dropped for many sites.

In Fotolia, I even inserted a note the following note to the moderator – perhaps someone who submits regularly to Fotolia may advise me whether these notes are effective:

Some technical issues such as shadows but done purposely to re-enforce “dark” message. Also, this is a hot topic considering what is going on in current events

Drugs mix

Drugs on a table


I’ve taken more time than usual to keyword these images. Firstly, I went to Alamy’s database and under Alamy Measures, I searched “All of Alamy”.


Next, I searched for “Opioid” for a period of one year until the present. These represent all the searches buyers have done for this keyword and which keywords resulted in sales. Extremely handy tool and recommend you do this for many of the images you submit to gauge what the buyers are searching.

CaptureAs you can see above, there’s been only one sale but plenty of searches. I anticipate that with this growing epidemic there will be more buyers searching for this and in any case as I mentioned earlier, I’ve made the images available at Microstock sites (but would prefer they were purchased at Alamy for generally greater royalties).

Next, I’ve taken those keywords and added a few other ones using the handy keyword tool I wrote about in a previous post, to complete top it up to the 50-word limit, including:

syringe, responsibility, marijuana, dependence, addiction, business, unhealthy, drug, concept, crack, overdose, illegal, substance, addict, forbidden, medicine, narcotic, crime, problem, junkie, heroin, death, cannabis, wooden, background, danger, health, powder, cocaine, cannabis bud,  overdose, treatment clinic, marijuana leaf, trump, marijuana plant, 

Lastly, the captions which is extremely important and here’s what I came up with:

Caption: Drugs, needles and syringes on a wooden background – Opioid epidemic in the USA in 2017 where 90 people die everyday from overdoses

Cannabis legal market in the US

Another stock photography trend is the recent legalisation of the cannabis market in some US states. Here’s one such image that may be used to support the commercial promotion of the products:

Marijuana pipe and lighter3

Voila! Let’s see how these images perform in the market. I’ll keep you posted.

Another trend which I’ll be covering soon is the rise of the ‘alt-right’ in many parts of the West, evidenced by what is going in Charlottetown, Virginia.

Until next time and stay healthy!



All three have been accepted into the Shutterstock collection:


Interestingly, when I first submitted these exact images (no modification), 4 years ago they were rejected. I think QC standards are falling.


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