You know who you are, Generation Y.

An analysis of Internet and social network use tells me that a majority of you reading this were born between 1977 and 1997. You are the children of the last of the baby boomers and the most studied group of young adults anywhere because you generally have money and business wants to talk you out of it. Don’t despair if you are outside Gen Y, as all generations need to recognize the unique characteristics of this group in order to completely cover the photographic life of Gen Y.

A national news program recently profiled a young woman on the ubiquitous laptop in youthful lives. She said that she feels lost without her laptop and is never more than a few feet from it. I know the feeling but when I really realized what it meant to be in your 20’s in the 21st century was when I went to wake up a relative who had fallen asleep with her laptop running and her cell phone still to her ear. The ear buds of the iPod were on the pillow.

It’s no surprise that people in their 20’s are masters at multi-tasking. They are the first generation that has grown up not knowing a world without the Internet or cell phones or video games or on demand TV. They don’t watch the nightly news like their parents generation (in the U.S. the commercials for the nightly news are only for products that appeal to the old folks).

There are indications that Gen Y is even abandoning email for IM, Twitter type communication and blogging as their main methods of staying in touch. This carries over to their work lives where they prefer email and IM to phone calls and meetings. (No more mindless meetings! Yeah!) Young people in the business world are impatient with some aspects of traditional business behavior besides wasteful meetings. They can’t understand antiquated dress codes. I remember a couple years ago at a different company being told by the CEO that the company dress code prohibited the wearing of jeans to the office. I had to fire back that the biggest clothing investment my staff had was in their jeans some of which cost hundreds of dollars.

On one hand a sizable percentage of this age group is said to already be saving for retirement. On the other some have entered the work force with huge debts due to the high cost of college education and more of this generation are headed for higher education degrees than ever before.

© Mocker

Gen Y is said to be the most medicated of all groups as they also were the first generation to grow up with Prozac type drugs. This has lead to access and a naive but also sophisticated knowledge of legal pharmaceuticals that can have dangerous consequences if these legal drugs are mixed. The defining moments of the last 20 years such 9/11and school shootings have changed school life. Many urban schools now have metal detectors and ID cards that operate entrances. School security guards are the norm in many places. On the lighter side, the diet in the school cafeteria is healthier as lower schools attempt to do their part to reduce youthful obesity in elementary and uppe rschool kids while their older siblings demand organics.

The ethnic diversity within this generation in the U.S. has produced a profound difference in tolerance compared to many baby boomers. On average Gen Y has no problem living with or working with differing ethnicities. It is a blended generation too. It has created a need for the “world model”…a model that could be any number of nationalities. Gen Y members are themselves often the result of blended families. A large percentage of the ethnic makeup of Gen Y isn’t white.

And what does all this have to do with you, Dreamstime photographer? Read on.

Shot List:

*Still lots of room for images of young people at work or at home using or viewing or listening to multiple electronic devices all at the same time.

*Gen Y with earphone in work environment

*Forget the land line phone in your photos of Gen Y. Most rely on their mobile as their only phone.

*No matter what you are having your Gen Y models doing, ensure that there is a laptop and cell phone in the frame even at the beach…Yuk: sand in the laptop.

*Sleeping with the laptop, cell phone and ear buds or earphones

*School menu-We need images of school cafeterias. I know this is a hard one to get but it’s a valuable shot especially if you can show the food that is healthy or alternatively-not so much.

*School entrances with security cameras prominent in the image so that the video-cams stand out or metal detectors with high school age students

*School security guard

*High school and college age students going through metal detectors at school.

*Jeans and other casual dress at the office. Young people are happy to dress up for meetings and events but we need to show them around the office in jeans and casual shirts, especially the guys.

Keyword tip: The words "casual business" used in an image description or as two keywords should NOT be attached to a businessman wearing a suit and tie!

Photo credits: , Eastwest Imaging, Elkeflorida, Marcio Eugenio, Leloft1911, Mocker, Monkey Business Images, Tarragona.

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You're correct Litifeta. The are two types of subdivisions that generational researchers use often called "waves" (gens split in half) and "cusps" (bridges between generations) which often get confused for generations themselves. While generations are (should be anyway) measures of shared social experiences, waves and cusps are handier ways of measuring shared pop culture. Better known examples include "Generation Jones 1955-1965" and the "MTV Generation 1975-1985". And some generational experts like Bruce Tulgan suggest that the term Gen Y is a cusplike group only existing between 1978-84 similar to the MTV Gen. Besides S&H, other marketing books also deal with either cusps and or waves. And some waves or cusps also have their own websites and even movements, Gen Jones being the biggest.

I definately agree that the Boomers have two seperate and unique waves- One who generally came of age during the 60's, and those who came of age during the 70's (if 64 is seen as the end, then the early 80's). If I didn't know better I'd be tempted to think of them as two seperate generations due to their huge size and impact on society.


Spiritof76 has done a lot of analysis here. But there is even more. Like, Baby Boomers are a wide difference in age groups. I see the latter born ones have completely different ideals to the earlier born boomers. I think they call them stage 1 and stage 2.

GenYers are a mixed bag as well. But I think the thing that defines them is their willingness to accept technology and advertising at face value. They don't believe it, they just accept they are being scammed.


I'm also gen Y, born 1980 :) great article and very intereting!!


The problem with the term Gen Y is that it's a marketer's term even harder to define then was Gen X. Since it was first invented in an 1993 Ad Age editorial to describe those born between 1974-1980, various experts have since placed the beginning anywhere from the mid 70's to the mid 80's. Likewise the end has been placed from the mid 90's till today.

In general the Term Gen Y is a marketing term to describe the youth (under 30) market. While great for temporary sales outlooks, it often comes at the expense of true generational identities. A good study on socialhistoric generations can be found in the works of social historians William Strauss and Neil Howe.

You mentioned looking for information for other generations. You might find their series of books fascinating because not only do they look at each generations collective experiences and actions throughout their lifetimes, but are able to define each generation's unique boundries all the way back to the Elizabethian era. You can either Google their names or type in Lifecourse Associates.

Here is a list of modern generations according to them along with some common alternatives

1- Millennials (SH) 1982-2001? Based on the observation of changing attitudes of child development with 1982 being the general birth of the HS class of 2000, Minivan, and the "Baby on Board" signs.
(ALT)Echo Boomers Mid 80's till? Start of the Echoboom (over 4 million born, matching the traditional end level of the Babyboom in 1964)

2- Gen X (SH) 1961-1981 : The period between when the first noted individuals began callingseperating themselves from the 60's counter culture Boomers (I.E. Douglas Coupland b.1961- author of Gen X-tales of accelerated culture and Barrack Obama) and the children born before the great changes in parenting that began with the children born in 1982 (See Milennials)
(Common Alt) 1965-81 : A hybrid between the common end of the babyboom and the Millennials
(Babybust) 1965-85: Period between the babyboom (over 4 million born) and the biological echoboom.

3- The Boomers: (SH) 1943-1961 Probably the best known generation in history. The Generation of Bill, Hillary Clinton and GW Bush
BabyBoomers: (Common) 1946-1964

4- The Silent Generation (SH) 1925-194245 Those between American's of age who fought in WW2 and the Babyboom. Called Silent because they are often over looked and who's accomplishments are often accredited to either the GI's or Boomers. McCain belongs to this group.

5- The GI (SH) 1901-1924 aka Greatest Generation: Those of draftable ages during WW2. The generation of Ronald Reagan and have had the longest stretch of US presidents from JFK to Bush Senior

6- The Lost (SH) 1893-1900. Those of draft age during WW1. Oldest generation alive with only a few surviving members left alive. The generation of Eisnehower and Truman.


Watch this space for Boomer information as well as even older! I'm working my way through the generations...see Baby Boomlet...the first in the series. I wonder what Gen they will be now that we are at the end of the alphabet? Maybe GEN A? Thanks for all your comments.


This is a great article. You can thank Gen X for pushing all of the ideas Gen Y are now helpless without :)
Stay young even when you are old!


Y gen, '83. =D


Although I have noticed some of these trends, not being a generation Y myself (actually I am the creepy older guy always lurking around with a camera trying to get generation Y to sign a model release), but most of this never crossed my mind. Thanks for the direction and purpose for my mean photography. :?


Ellen, thank you very for another precious article. However, I'm a little confused, I'm 47 and I am very pleased to read this article, so I think I don't fall on your market research regarding the genaneration Y. I guess I belong to the minority, but still feel very very young :-) Y?
All the best to you, and again thank you for one more of your the precious insights!


I am a Gen Y also (82'), and it is pretty close to my lifestyle. Good post.


Wow, one of the more interesting article I ever read. Barely a documentary by itself. I'm from the Y generation (84'). You draw a great description of our evolution in the society!

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