“There is a desire not just to see and do more, but also to be more.”

We’ve all done it: Wistfully screen gazing, lusting after wondrous travel experiences, considering pilgrimages to faraway lands and daydreaming about outer space. Real or virtual, our fascination with the boundless beauty and unpredictability of nature’s mysteries endures.

And it is having a tangible effect on the imagery around us.

We call this “Wonderlust” – with an ‘o’ for emphasis. It’s one of the key trends Getty Images visual anthropologists predicted based on their qualitative and quantitative research, and it describes a kind of photography that goes beyond the typical images associated with travel.

Wonderlust not only captures this thirst for journey in our lives, but also our re-enchantment with space, nature and spirituality. In fact, images keyworded with these terms have seen a significant rise among Getty Images customers over the past several years.

What else is influencing this trend?

1. Technology is taking us to faraway places

It’s not just physical adventures we are after – we’re having experiences through the luminosity of the screen without ever leaving our living rooms.

Sites like Atlas Obscura and Whimsy allow us to explore off-the-beaten-track locations, and Pinterest has millions of pins just for travel. Not to mention the opportunities for virtual experiences with emerging VR technology.

This piece from Visit Britian uses a tech-inspired point-of-view to make viewers feel like they are sharing a moment with family, even if they are watching the spot from an office cubicle:


2. We’re traveling alone

Our constant thirst for wonder means we’re willing to travel alone. A 2015 survey of tour operators in the UK predicted that one-third of holiday makers would venture solo in that year. And a  TripAdvisor survey found that more women are traveling alone than ever before. Senior solo travelers are also having an impact on travel in 2016, as represented in this video from Esso fuel:


Solo travel is also a metaphor for the desire to explore our inner psyches through spiritual pilgrimage.

We see this in the Oscar-nominated film, ‘Wild,’ starring Reese Witherspoon, an adaptation of the novel by Cheryl Strayed who trekked across the Pacific Crest trail on a journey of self discovery following the death of her mother and breakdown of her marriage.

There is a desire not just to see and do more, but also to be more.

3. We’re fascinated by science, nature and fantasy

Concerns about our own impermanence leaves us wondering about a “higher purpose,” and, in turn, fascinated with weird science, nature and fantasy.

On the brink of cosmic travel for the masses, the popularity of movies like ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar’ and the resurgence of the TV series, ‘Cosmos,’ all underscore this sentiment.

IBM’s ‘See what the world is making today’ campaign is a great example.

Meanwhile, with the sky as a visual metaphor for possibility, Emirates’ “Don’t let the world pass you by” campaign speaks to a feeling of being dwarfed by nature in such a huge world.

Emirates / dv8 – “Don’t let the world pass you by”

And Seaborn‘s cleverly edited video, “Extraordinary Worlds Anthem” immerses viewers with juxtaposed scenes that ignite the senses around a variety of natural wonders:


Real or virtual, we are in the era of Wonderlust. We are seeing the world with fresh eyes — and imagery is our great catalyst.

See more breathtaking travel imagery at Getty Images by using #Wonderlust in search. Explore now.