UPDATE: We have just published our Photography Trends 2023 Report here!
It's that time of the year! We are now a few weeks into 2017, and that means we need to look at this year's photography trends.
As a business owner, designer, creative, or artist, knowing the current trends in photography is crucial for you to stay at top of your game and include only compelling and current imagery in your work. To help you with that, here's our annual report for Photography Trends 2017!
At StockPhotoSecrets we reached out to all the main stock photo agencies we have excellent relations with, asking their experts for their opinion on what they think will trend in 2017, and why. We collected all these trends in this one, robust report. The best: we include awesome images from each agency's collections!
And this year we have a great BONUS! While knowing what experts think will be popular this year is very valuable, it's even better to have concrete information on what actually sold well recently. Additionally, to trends, we have gathered the best-selling images from 2016 from each outlet, to help you know exactly where the market is at, and where it will be in 2017!
If you want to know what kind of photos to use this year (and what kind of photos to produce, too), dive into our amazing Photography Trends 2017!
If you wish a deeper look into the current market for photos, check out 2016 best-selling images!
Each agency identified different trends in photography industry for 2017, but in general they all found that, as in previous years, they all revolve around the concepts of lifestyle, technology and society, both on their own and together.
Our lives continue to merge with technology, which keeps evolving and transforming our society. This year's photography trends are all about people interacting with technology –and we see an interesting mix between new and upcoming technologies and a nostalgic revival of the dawn of massive tech–.
Equally important, most trends refer to a new, inclusive and global society. Concepts like diversity, gender roles, age, wellbeing, etc. get renewed with a modern take and a stronger focus in emotions and natural-like shots –with the influence of social media and mobile photography still visible.
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Humanity in Future Technology
Cybersecurity searches increased by +363%: As we live ever more connected lives, concern is growing about the safety of our memories and personal details.
VR +255%: Stepping into the mainstream, virtual reality offers new possibilities for storytelling.
Ephemeral internet +125%: Speaks to the emerging trend of disappearing content, spearheaded by Snapchat, while the 4th Industrial Revolution (+80%), a term coined by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, speaks to the wave of automation and its imminence in our economy and everyday lives.
The contrast between real and digital continues in our Design Trends, with natural looks offsetting tech-driven styles. The natural design trends are authentic and raw and directly oppose the exact, sharp-edged compositions of tech-driven design.
Organic Texture +74%: Rich and timeless patterns found in nature, from tree rings to marble swirls.
Tropical +44%: A feel-good trend inspired by vivid colors, lush vegetation, and exotic fruit
Searches increased by +482% since last year. Adding a 3D feel, this trend can be sharp, intricate, or reflect the patterns found in nature. It is the embodiment of minimalism, offering a clean yet bold backdrop to any design.
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Machines and Connectivity
We expect to see images of technology enabling all aspects of our lives, from self driving cars to smart refrigerators, to providing convenience and connectivity while on vacation in the most remote places of the world.
The world is getting smaller every day. Technology and mobility enable content creators to capture scenes from all corners of the globe. Whether it’s everyday scenes from an idyllic farm in the Italian countryside or vibrant moments from the beaches of Brazil, stock customers will be able to find exactly what they need from the network of photographers around the globe.
Equality and Diversity
The controversy surrounding politics and governments around the world have given rise to protests and millions have become outspoken advocates for equality and diversity. We look forward to seeing the stock collections expanding to embrace this passion and awareness from the public.
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Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? Whilst drones and VR might be latest shout in the digital world, the lively beauty of nature is here to balance out the industrial. With lush vegetation, tropical animals and bold colours, this breezy trend is visual escapism.
Vivid color is making a significant comeback! Thanks to smart phone editing technology, It has become increasing easier to apply filters to personalise snapshots. Introducing bold, colorful tones with a high contrast is sure to generate to the shock factor. 2017 is going bring a splash of colour!
Over the past 12 months Virtual Reality devices have become a popular photographic influence. Most commonly used by gamers and entertainment geeks alike; technology and interaction play a big part within its content. This game-changing trend is one that is set to stay on our social media platforms for the indefinite future. We love it!!
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Movement and Emotion
There is a growing demand for images people can relate to. These are the authentic images that defy the classic stock photography look. Showing people in action and capturing sincere emotions is going to be key in 2017 because authenticity is the new bar of judgement for stock photography:
90s are Back for Real
The gist of the 90s will remain relevant in 2017 as we start seeing more full flash photos, the bold and colorful filters and quick snapshots of everyday life. Personalized photography is going to be the next big thing and this trend is the perfect representation of the more personal approach to photography.
Technology-driven Generation Z
The tech-savvy kids brought up in the age of social media certainly can’t imagine a world without technology. Generation Z can be defined as open minded, socially conscious and technology dependent. They’re the new target audience for many marketing campaigns yet to come. Looking forward to the future, it’s inevitable that they’re part of the new trends.
Global Business Meetings
There will be many world political events in 2017, so photos of multi-ethnic meetings with flags used as props can become really trendy.
New Roles for Women
Women power and gender blending are becoming more and more popular topics in 2017.
People & VR
Virtual reality devices have been introduced in all trendbooks in the last two years. Now they have finally gained mass popularity.
Ad Hoc Society and Slow Culture
Digitalization is not only a technical process, it’s a mental one as well. Many aspects of life seem to be speeding up in recent years. We expect to make everything happen at the press of a button. Regardless of how convenient that may be, we still find ourselves longing for peace and tranquility. Cultivating a more mindful lifestyle may offer a solution. By deliberately shifting into a lower gear and slowing down, we’re giving ourselves a chance to recharge our batteries, too.
Individuality and Community
As strong as the desire is to cultivate our own identities and pursue our own personalized concept of living, the elemental longing we have for community and bonding with others remain undiminished. The desire for close relationships with partners, family and friends is considered one of the most important elements of leading a happy, fulfilling life. Without ‘we’ there is no ‘me’. The world has become a vast network of connections and relationships, with the individual searching for its place in this society. Only after finding it can an individual begin to flourish, sharing and accomplishing things with other like-minded people. An increasingly complex world can be navigated better when we do it together.
Silver Surfers and Millennials
Paradoxically, our social role models are becoming younger while our society is actually becoming older. Today’s seniors are more active, possessing more confidence and curiosity in comparison to previous generations. Those referred to as ‘silver surfers’ aren’t looking to respectfully bow out of society, they intend to remain in the midst of life and continue to actively define it. That’s also the goal of the millennials, those born between 1980 and 1999. Technology centrally characterizes the lifestyle of this first generation of ‘digital natives’, with their lack of differentiation between what’s ‘online’ and ‘offline’. With their high level of education and strong motivation, they are aiming for professional success and self-fulfillment in their work. Because of the shifting and insecure circumstances that have constantly accompanied their lives, flexibility and the ability to improvise have emerged as key traits of this generation.
Although Authenticity has been the top trend since about forever it’s persistency clearly shows how hard it is to capture and keep contemporary. For sure people are oversaturated with advertising and media these days and have become hard to reach even with the most spectacular advertising. We feel that currently the balance is shifting further towards an even more tangible vibe of realness in visual language without excessive styling. People want to recognize themselves credibly within the models they see in images; tattoos and all. This is also underscored by the extension of influencer marketing beyond celebrities and It-persons to regular bloggers.
Shapes are becoming more natural again and have a less artificial feel while the choice of colours is getting more vibrant. Although less colours appear to be used as such we feel that those used are given greater intensity.
Drone photography and virtual reality are making completely new view of nearly anything on the planet possible. And they are genuinely exciting. We can’t wait to see more.
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Creating a Strong Collective Voice
Photos are being used in order to illustrate a certain political message, most importantly to highlight political disagreement. However, we see the crucial point in the fact that those photos are being used to underline a feeling of connection with the people affected by political or societal exclusion (e.g.Trump, Brexit, LGBT). They are used to form an alliance and a strong collective voice.
Hygge – Or the Happy Living Foto Documentation
Now this is something we identify as major trend in 2017. The Danish Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) lifestyle trend documents a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is about gratitude and savoring the simple pleasures in life. Ordinary tasks have suddenly the power to become that magic, funny and positive moment. Hygge moments are documented within photo series transferring this exact feelings.
When the World Stands Still
Sometimes the world seems to stand still, catching these moments is a photo trend that we see for some time now, alongside breathtaking nature and travel photography. However, we don’t see an end to this trend, but more diversity in the moments and surroundings captured.
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Total Virtual Immersion
Continues making game-changing strides on social media and entertainment platforms, immersive technology makes a greater impact both visually and aurally with 360 degree spatial audio products also making appearances onto the market.
Wearable Tech & The Internet of Things
Becoming increasingly cemented within popular culture with major brands releasing smart shoes and emotion sensing wearables. Home appliances also give way to voice recognition technology and instant connectivity from anywhere in the world.
Abstract Vivid Colors
After grunge looking LoMo filters of popular social media platforms, vivid colors are making a significant comeback but in very abstract dominance within photos.
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Tesla is up for big things, as they’re planning to enable one of its cars to drive itself across the USA in 2017. Yet, this has been done before, by Delphi Automotive, which sent an autonomous car in the classic Americana trip in 2015. Since Uber is also testing autonomous cars for a while now, we can only imagine that self-driving will become a thing, probably as early as this year.
Drones for Everything
Drones are not new technology anymore, and we’ve seen them taking filming, taking pictures, surveying agricultural fields and even providing wireless internet. The time when your pizza will be delivered by a drone and you won’t have to leave a tip is really close. We’re still wondering if they’ll ever be used for delivering newspapers. Now that would be interesting.
As the world turns digital, data is the new oil. In 2017, expect to see more talks about it, as it will become a currency, and therefore, more an more interesting for investors worldwide.
Bonus: Best Selling Images of 2016
We know what you might be thinking: 2017 photography trends are predictions. Made by experts with years of experience and deep knowledge of the business, but predictions after all. How to really know which of these themes and concepts will actually sell well and become popular, and which may not take off as greatly as expected?
Well, one great way to know the chances of a trend to really take off is to find out what is currently selling well. And now you can! Our friendly stock photo agencies and companies shared with us their top 3 most sold images of 2016, which clearly show what kind of styles, themes and concepts are popular nowadays. Discover them next!
Our top three images for 2016 reflect a number of trends that were also identified in our 2017 Creative Trends report. The Cityscape abstract image is a testament to the world’s recognition of our ever more connected lives. The “4th Industrial Revolution,” is a term that saw an 80% year over year increase in 2016, and represents the idea of technology transforming the way we live and work, with automation from robots to driverless cars. Both the business woman and family images are great examples of expanded cultural diversity. The powerful depictions of traditional roles and situations are represented in a new light, breaking traditional stereotypes and reinforcing the new standards of equality. We expect to see continued divergence and disparity as the world diversifies, and we look forward to seeing how our customers and contributors apply these trends to aesthetically enhance their stories throughout the year.
2016 was a big year on the emoji scene. Only last month, Kanye West was quoted saying they are the future of communication. Universally understood and a great way to simplify the user experience in your design work, it’s no surprise that this pack of 280 illustrated icons took the crown for the most downloaded image on Adobe Stock this year.
Our growing obsession with health and wellbeing looks as though it’s here to stay if this stunning shot of bitesize portions of fruit and veg is anything to go by. As the second most downloaded image of 2016, it suggests creatives were craving Instagram-style shots of immaculately presented food in their work this year.
An effective way of visualizing different routes or paths to take when approaching problem solving is using road signs. So it perhaps comes as no surprise that this image was the third most downloaded on Adobe Stock this year.
Our most popular images in 2016 show some variety in themes and styles, but yet they represent the trends that marked photography last year: authenticity, modern society and business environments, active senior citizens and healthcare, among others. In vectors, minimalist style was the most sought after.
New Concepts in Business Images
Senior Citizens & Healthcare
Our top 3 images tap into consumer psychology and reveal a great deal about the current market demands. These images sold well because one is about a new concept, one is about an ongoing trend and one is about raw emotions. These 3 things and ideas are not revolutionary but they have been in the spotlight throughout the year.
While this Russia-based agency caters to worldwide customers, and their photography trends for this year represent that, their 2016 best sellers reflect more regionally relevant topics and themes.
Justice and Law
Their best selling images in 2016 are well aligned with some of the current trends, in the sense they revolve around the concepts of authenticity, diversity, relax & wellbeing, and technology in every day life.
Our top sellers are strong contemporary interpretations of classic concepts along with an outstanding image of one of our home markets most iconic tourist destinations from a national perspective.
Our best selling photos in 2016 display a variety of topics mainly: realistic and honest people photography (happy couples in particular), funny seasonal photos and business photography.
Realistic & Honest People
Funny Seasonal Photos
The most downloaded images in 2016 at 123RF mix good copy space, trendy concepts and narrative elements in both specific and versatile themes, also adding the “bargain” factor with a great bundle deal.
Cliche with Conceptual Details
This photo is almost a cliche! Why? Stock photo sites are often too saturated with photos of clouds. However, this one photo definitely sets itself apart from the competition! Stock photos have always been used to communicate ideas and the accompaniment of sunrays here does a good job at adding an element of divinity to a story that’s just waiting to be told.
Christmas time is always a great season for best sellers. From as early as June, customers would start sourcing for Christmas borders to festively frame up their promotions, products and greetings. This particular best seller sets itself apart by allocating ample space for product placement, copy… and, you’ll agree that the colors of the presents are vibrant and just screams, “Look at me!”. Thumbs up for great use of the flat lay concept!
123RF’s (oh so very discerning) customers can definitely spot a bargain when they see one, and this best seller of ours is no exception! 1,680 business icons for a single subscription download? Now, that’s VALUE!
In 2016, Dreamstime's best selling images were backgrounds and images with plenty of copy space. They all represent classic or popular topics and concepts with a modern take or a little twist to make them current, different and interesting:
Business + Technology
After seeing all the interesting trends in photography from last year and the concepts and styles that experts predict will rise this year, we can be sure of one thing: 2017 will be exciting for stock photos!
Some of the styles predicted to be hot this year have been trending consistently for the past years: lifestyle and photos of people have been the most prolific segment in stock photos almost since forever. Authenticity, realistic imagery and candid shots have been increasing in popularity since at least 2 years. The Generation Z gains ground as the new consumer market to aim for, but active seniors also have their spot.
Technology and our interaction with it is also not a new concept, but as tech is fast-paced and constantly evolving, the topics around it get renewed. This year, it's all about artificial intelligence and augmented reality: VR, drones, self-driving cars, wearable tech, and so forth. Interestingly enough, there's also a nostalgic revival for technology of the past: analog cameras (and other devices in general) and the 90s feel that comes with them.
All this wrapped up in modern representations of our world and our society: ethnic and cultural diversity, and modern social roles for men and women of all ages.
However, it's worth to know that classic concepts and styles are still selling well, with Christmas themes, abstracts and textures with plenty of copy space showing up as best sellers across several agencies. That, of course, with a fresh and modern twist to make them appealing.
Photography trends 2014
Photography trends 2015
Photography Trends 2016/2017
Photography Trends 2018
Photography Trends 2019
Photography Trends 2020
Photography Trends 2021
Most recent Photography Trends 2023 report!
Now that you know what will be trending in photography this year, and additionally you discovered what sold well last year, you are armed with powerful information to plan your upcoming designs or photo shoots.
Make sure your work is current, compelling and achieving by using high quality images that represent what consumers and audiences in general are wanting to see. Happy creations in 2017!
All images provided and © by certain stock agencies for this article.