As the gear we use to take photographs changes, so does what’s in front of the camera. While some types of images are timeless, photography is often dominated by trends, from colors to subjects. Taking a look at what’s trending can help photographers stay relevant — or avoid following the crowd.
Identifying photography trends can be tough to do. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of recognizing patterns in the images we see on a daily basis. Other times, trends are identified through research. Many stock photography companies, for example, keep track of what users search for, identify and help to predict the type of images that will be popular — so photographers can head out and take them.
From noticing subtle changes in images we scroll through every day to analyzing the data from top stock companies, here are five photography trends that photographers should watch out for this year.
Vintage-looking photos have been trending since the dawn of Instagram filters. While the vintage photograph is still trending, the most loved vintage looks of five years ago aren’t the same that they are today.
Shutterstock noticed an uptick in searches for the word “nostalgia,” for example. Along with images of vintage objects and with vintage looks, the term is also creeping into graphic design.
The old photo look of 2017 is a bit more subtle, a bit less Instagram-filter. The trending photos are closer to the actual film. And along with the film effects, the harsh flash of old consumer cameras is making a weird sort of comeback, putting “bad” lighting in the spotlight.
Photographers don’t have to go too far back to get nostalgic either — as the 90s kids start families, create their own businesses and grow up, the era is making a comeback, according to stock company Deposit Photos. Thinking of a prime example – Polaroid-like instant film photographs is the one.
Social media, since the start, has always had some pull on photography styles as a primary platform for viewing images from ads to snapshots from a friend. But some of the latest imaging patterns are trending from the social media posts, in an attempt to be more honest than the feeds where moms selectively crop out their unfolded laundry and businesspeople go beyond the stiff suits and meetings.
Authentic, documentary style images are both a social media trend and one that several stock photography companies are picking up this year. As the public embraces photos that tell the truth just like it is, photographers that shoot everything from families to commercial shoots can take a nod from this trend.
While those vintage shots still have their place — a sort of opposite trend is happening too. Abnormal colors are becoming popular for the instant way they stand out and immediately draw the eye.
These unusual colors are playing a role both in the beginning of the shoot when the props, clothing, and locations are selected and also in the end process. From clothes to backdrops, using multiple bright colors in an image immediately stands out from the more natural colors that tend to dominate news feeds.
When the scene fails to provide that jarring color combination, color swapping techniques can make it happen. Unlike one-click filters or over-saturated images, doing a color swap with Photoshop, or a dedicated team of photo editors like the staff at SmartPHOTOeditors can help make a picture stand out in social feeds filled with the usual colors. Color swaps can also tie a photograph with a graphic design scheme, giving brands more uniformity across multiple mediums.
The technology behind the photographs is both changing the way we photograph — and becoming trends in themselves. One of the biggest tech photography trends in 2017 is 360-degree panorama and virtual reality. While 360 degree photos aren’t brand new — SmartPHOTOeditors, for example, has been creating 360 degree real estate tours for years — the technology is becoming more well-known, taking up a spot at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
While 360 degree’s trending quality means a use of the medium is on the rise, the tech is still new enough to have that wow factor. Immersive images stand out from the single-perspective shots and immediately draw the viewer into the picture like they are standing right there.
While 360 degree and virtual reality are terms that are universally increasing in stock image searches, professional photographers may soon have clients requesting the new format. While pricey 360 degree cameras can shoot and stitch at once, photographers can also shoot with the equipment they have, then use a stitching service.
The Stereotype challenge
Photographs or images that exist in the real world have power. Many photographers are choosing to use that power to break through societal norms and celebrate diversity.
Getty, for example, suggests that a 2017 image trend will be the “gritty woman” —or the female form in a picture not celebrated for her curves or her beauty, but for her hard work. Expect to see a rise in photographs of women fulfilling non-traditional roles, as well as men defying convention and working as stay-at-home dads, nurses and other careers that tend to be dominated by women.
Deposit Photos says they still notice a lack of diversity in many commercial and stock images but expect trending images to continue to challenge the traditional stereotypes. Besides just gender, photographs may tackle the stereotypes behind age, ethnicity, cultures and more.
Photography has become vastly different from the vintage wet plates to the cameras always in our pockets. While the technology that takes the photographs changes at a rapid pace, what’s on the other side of the camera has subtle changes through the years as well. By considering the current trends in photography, photographers can tweak their personal style in a way that will resonate with today’s viewers.