The globe keeps spinning and another year is ahead of us! Amongst the yearly recaps, new year resolutions, predictions and wishes for 2020, there is one thing that matters to make sure your creative endeavours will be successful, and that is to know the top Photography Trends that will rule the visual sphere.
Just like we do every year – check out our Photography Trends 2019 here – the team at Stock Photo Secrets have analysed and collected the most inspiring tendencies from the creme of the top in stock photo agencies, to bring you the primer Photography Trends 2020 Report, the perfect handbook for modern creatives and business owners.
Everything you need to know to create the crispiest designs and stay at the top (and why not ahead) of the game in visuals next year, is right here and all beautifully illustrated with premium images. Some trends will be expected, and some might surprise you –like the one about weird stock photos still shocks, for example.
And for a greater view on the market side of visual trends, have a look at our report on the Most Downloaded Images of 2019, it really adds a valuable perspective on bankable photography!
Dive in, enjoy, and start brainstorming design ideas for 2020!
Photography Trends 2020
Our Expert's Take
From the latest causes people push forward globally, to the photographic aesthetics that will be dominant, going through minimalist composition and immersive imagery, every trending topic is heavily influenced by the need for precise reproductions of the world and our times.
This became even more evident with the appearance of Covid19 world pandemic, as well as with the social protests that spread around the globe following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in the US. Both events have a deep impact on society and thus on visual communication at all levels.
It's very clear that visual communication today is no longer about providing the audience with an artistic ideal to imitate, but rather to portray the reality that surrounds them and us every day, in an artsy way.
If you are a brand or a creative working for one, this is the tip to keep in mind while exploring the new collection of visual trends: to reach out to your target audience you can't just tell them you know them, you have to BE them.
Some of the concepts mentioned by our expert are analyzed in-depth in the article “8 Positive Visual Ideas to Communicate and Inspire in Coronavirus Times”.back to menu ↑
Already identified last year, the visual trend that picks up images of people joining together to defend causes, conducting public actions to create awareness and fighting against what they think should change, is looking hot for 2020 too. In this context, diverse stock photos that speak of inclusion are a must.
Adobe Stock: From Me to We
Images that present a strong sense of community and meaningful lifestyle choices resonate with viewers, creating an immediate connection between companies and conscious customers.
It is interesting to see how illustrations are a favourite for this topic. Many protest/social awareness campaigns have chosen this format for their visual communication. So it's definitely worth exploring the best agencies for stock illustrations!
Led by younger consumers, the movement toward people coming together to support causes large and small is scaling. The personal is now purposeful.
Shutterstock: Equality at the Lead
Iryna Kalamurza: I believe that contemporary art reflects the problems that exist in modern society, and stock photography should also illustrate what is happening on the street nowadays. The biggest trend is without a doubt the fight for equality. That includes women's rights and gender equality, along with equality for different races and age groups.
Dreamstime: Challenging Future
The changing socio-political and natural landscape will surface creatively in design and photo concepts in 2020. Eugenics, the rise of AI, unpredictable weather phenomena, global warming, the Brexit saga sequel, social media dynamics, these are only a few of the major challenges we’ll face in the near future.
EyeEm: Citizen Activism
How do we tell a compelling visual story without expensive tools? In 2020, citizen activism is a visual trend that takes place outside the ballot box: where social and political change is increasingly seized through the lens of our smartphones, providing social media platforms with compelling eyewitness video and photography direct from the source.back to menu ↑
Authentic & Candid Images
This is by far one of the most evergreen trends of the past few years and shows no signs of disappearing or losing traction anytime soon. The hottest lifestyle photography in 2020 will be authentic-styled imagery. Hyper-real, candid moments captured beautifully by a skilled photog, be them actually candid or produced to appear so –what would be somewhat “not stock photography”--, are everything you need to be up to date visually in the year to come.
Authenticity has been a trend for years now and the development goes even further away from the posed model shot to hyper-realistic people photography, almost in the style of documentaries from the seventies: shaky and imperfect but true and beautiful, which in turn corresponds to the content trend of imperfection.
Shutterstock: Authenticity and Moving Images
Felicia Perretti: I feel that real moments and authenticity in photography are still very important, and brands are going to continue to ask for that type of imagery. Beyond that, I imagine we’ll see more moving image content. Photography is finding ways to add movement, if not fully transitioning into video.
Stock Photo Secrets: Candid Compositions
Authentic photography was a favourite trend for 2019, and it’s unsurprising to see its evolution into a slightly different space. While authentic photography focused on real people in real situations, candid photography focuses on the photographer rather than the subject in many cases. Unlike deliberately posed portraits, which are specifically designed and staged to achieve a certain look or goal, the aim of a candid shot is to be spur-of-the-moment and sincere. To achieve this, a photographer must blend into their surroundings. To capture truly honest, genuine photography a photographer has to become invisible. As a result, this can be a challenging type of photography to achieve, but we hope to see an uptick in this compelling photography style.
Images do tell stories and there will be plenty of visual storytelling in 2020. The need to have my, your, his or her story heard will translate into unique images of individuals as well as atypical ways of photographing them. Forget the usual pose, let the story unfold!
We’ll see stories of uniqueness, differentiation but also stories of inclusiveness and diversity. The changing world will change its features so get ready for a collection of diverse portraits in an attempt to complete the collage of the world’s human portraits. Tomorrow’s people will look very multi-ethnic.
EyeEm: Produced Realism
This trend encourages brands to mimic the spontaneous storytelling energy of a ‘candid’ snapshot, a genuine story moment which gives the subject an opportunity to reveal truth without unnecessary props, artificial lighting or excessive digital retouching. For businesses, it’s about telling simple product stories that elevate the human side of capitalism.back to menu ↑
Environmentalism & Sustainability
One of the most discussed topics this year has been that of the ecology, the human impact on the planet and what can we (and should we) do to preserve our environment. Consequently, these matters will be very sought-after in visual material. Pretty much all the experts we consulted highlighted environmentalism and sustainable lifestyle as a hot trend for 2020.
Photocase: Gold is Green
Luxury no longer has to be expensive, but rather sustainable. Sustainability is now a lifestyle and people integrate both ecological and social criteria into their value horizon. It feels better to save a vintage jacket from the 2nd hand store than to drag an expensive piece out of the Gucci boutique. The new old jacket is then taken to the organic department store to fill the reusable containers with food. So it is not a question of a general renunciation of consumption, but of changed values that continue to lead to consumer decisions, but taking into account the social and ecological aspects that accompany every product and every service.
Shutterstock: Recycling, Climate Change and Space Exploration
Anastasiia Kryvenok: The biggest trends, in my opinion, will be environmental problems and global warming. That theme will extend to include photos showing human interactions with nature, the development of new technologies, and even space exploration.
Luis Molinero: We are about to enter 2020, and I imagine that themes and trends from 2019, such as sports, business, and healthy food will continue to thrive. But I also think concepts we are currently becoming more aware of–such as recycling and renewable energy and the fight against climate change–will acquire more importance and enter the scene with force.
Dreamstime: Challenging Future
From Greta’s school strike for climate to the continually rising social and political activism, people around the world will challenge existing paradigms for a ‘better’ world. We’re looking at a post-awareness age, where people fight back and find alternatives, from city gardens, cleaning the oceans, and special educational programs for living an environmentally friendly life. Visual content will absorb these in collages, in-motion, and in-action photos of taking stand for a viable future.back to menu ↑
You can’t think visual without thinking in colours. Next year’s palette is going to be a very lively one, full of vibrant, bold, and moving hues that fit into various narratives, from retro to nature to travel. Various stock photo agencies picked up on this trend, and this is what they have to say:
Stock Photo Secrets: Vibrant Colours
2020 is about expressing yourself. Not in a literal or obvious way, but from a more abstract perspective using bright colours and photographic styles to represent an idea, concept or impression. That’s why one of our top trends for 2020 is Vibrant Colours. All images have a voice, and the louder the color, the louder the voice. This allows images to stand out from the crowd and really make an impact on the viewer. This is especially prevalent in an era where stock photography is at a peak, and the availability of images is at a hugely saturated level. Having photos that stand out from the crowd will always find popularity.
Shutterstock Color Trends: No Pastels in Sight
Shutterstock released a complete guide on color trends for 2020, and the top three are incredibly bold and enticing:
Lush lava – A powerful, burning red – #FF450
Aqua Menthe – A spicy, vibrant green – #7FFFD4
Phantom Blue – A deep and strong blue – #191970
123RF: Bold Colours & Neon Flair
Colours will take on a more vivid, vibrant presence in the photography world for all digital mediums. Make use of bright and bold visuals to grab a viewer’s attention or create a marketing and design splash.
We’ll see an increase in neon-themed imagery over the stretch of next year. Luminous and glow will be the top trending keywords to use while searching for neon photography. Neon-themed portraits will also be a rising style that will make ordinary portraits pop.
Dreamstime: Fluid, Colourful, Isometric
2020 clip arts and illustrations will glow in a striking and varied color scheme, from monochrome visuals to vibrant colours such as saturated orange and purple tones, all intended to catch the viewers’ attention.
EyeEm: Pastel Blues
What do you get when you combine millennial culture with photographic minimalism? We call it Generation Blue. As we try to process the seemingly endless negative news headlines that bombard us on a daily basis, the colours we choose in our brand campaigns offer a subtle, yet gentle reminder of the healing and emotional properties that color can help bring.back to menu ↑
Atypical Beauty & Raw Shots
This one trend has been on the rise for several years now and will be as key as ever in 2020. Contemporary photography, particularly portraiture, is about rediscovering and redesigning the social parameters of beauty, not only to human level but also regarding visual aesthetic. Such are the shots that make the best photos for Instagram, for example. For next year, the winner portraits will be those that depict unconventional beauty in a raw, less produced, and less retouched way. It's interesting to see how this trend plays in fashion stock photography!
Photocase: The New Beauty
The concept of beauty is being renegotiated. Particularly that kind of perfection achieved through post effects is quickly exposed as a marketing tool and increasingly loses its radiance. Instead, the camera shows the un-edited beauty of imperfection, strangeness, otherness, and diversity that is given to all creatures.
Adobe Stock: Make Up is Not a Mask
Cosmetics have historically been applied as a “mask” in an effort to attain a limited and linear ideal of beauty. Contemporary grooming focuses on celebrating a person’s unique looks and style, and color appears in expressive, artistic ways.
Visuals need to reflect the contemporary use of cosmetics as a celebration of individuality and identity to look fresh, not dated, steering away from traditional and overly retouched “beauty” looks.
123RF: Unedited Photos
With authenticity still ranking high up on the photography trend list, we’ll be seeing plenty more unedited shots, especially on social media. Unedited, real world shots will be more widespread than it currently is for the span of the coming years.
EyeEm: The New Self
As an evolving art form, modern portraiture is quietly consuming the selfie, swapping raw spontaneity for constructed digital-vanity. Portraiture carries our deepest insecurities about what it is to be powerless in a social media vacuum that often values aesthetics more than genuine connections. Brands can learn from a renewed focus on simple visual elements.back to menu ↑
Modern Senior Living
Several agencies have picked up on a growing trend that seeks a more accurate and empowered depiction of Baby Boomers as the iconic generation is now reaching the 65 years old mark. This massive chunk of the population is now well into seniority, and they are certainly defying the canons for how this phase of life should be lived. Photos of senior people in 2020 should reflect this.
Photocase: Ok, Boomer!
The baby boomers are getting old and, as they represent the social majority, the demands on image content are changing with them. At the same time, the trench of digital nativity is separating a large part of this generation from the virtual world that is invisible to them. However, older models probably won’t face any major problems with bookings in the future.
Adobe Stock: All Ages Welcome
Aging gracefully is not only possible—it’s the new normal. Older people are healthy and active, participating in the workforce much longer than previous generations, which gives them major spending power.
Companies want diverse imagery that presents vibrant older people actively engaged with all facets of life and colleagues and community of all ages. This helps companies grow in appeal and relevance to powerful older demographics.
Dreamstime: Senior Empowerment
Globally, the population over 65 is currently the fastest-growing age group. Stock photography is no stranger to the demand of authentic visual representation for this specific group. Age is just a number and seniors have fun too.
Aging/senior concepts related to an active lifestyle, healthcare, finances, housing, family, goods, and services will be more and more popular, shedding aside the conventional elderly pose of silent wisdom.back to menu ↑
Diversity & Inclusion
The demand for imagery that illustrates an inclusive and diverse, global society will only increase in 2020. Creatives will need, more than ever, photos that provide a precise visual representation of the world we live in, and the people that inhabit it, to send out their messages to the masses. From race to gender roles —styled photography that caters to the female market keeps rising in relevance–, lifestyle photography will be all about representing everyone.
Shutterstock: New Takes on Stereotypical Themes
Damir Khabirov: Any new trends in 2020 will inevitably grow from the ones already gaining traction in 2019. Diversity, body positivity, and feminism will still be extremely relevant. These are global trends that influence the stock photography market as well as advertising, marketing, and even politics.
This image above is a perfect example of modern disability images, which are rising in popularity lately!
I feel that classic topics will still be relevant–but they’ll be rendered in new ways. For example, let's take stereotypical portraiture of a happy family sitting on a couch at home. Every year, the interior design changes, the clothing looks different, and the family itself might diverge from the typical image of a “mom, dad, boy, and girl” to be more diverse and inclusive.
Adobe Stock: Express Yourself
Thanks to social media, people are more public and open than ever when it comes to expressing their feelings. The human need to share a full, honest range of raw emotions is now mainstream.
Consumers want to see themselves represented authentically. That includes the way they feel and express themselves. This is the newest visual form of “inclusivity.”
123RF: Inclusive Focus
Cue a sweeping round of questions about what photography would be like if there was a stronger focus on inclusivity. 2020 will be a year that representations of bodies, genders, orientations and racial diversities still matter.
Alamy: Girl Boss
Only one in three entrepreneurs in the UK are women. And with the industry pushing to change this traditional view of entrepreneurs is changing, through the rise in awareness for flexible working hours, remote working and terms like ‘mumtrepreneur' becoming increasingly popular, it's a great time to celebrate this with inspirational & empowering imagery.back to menu ↑
Image-capturing technology keeps moving forward and the creative world embraces the new means of visual expression. Immersive photography has been a rising trend in later years and is every day more accessible, with applications in landscape, nature, lifestyle and beyond. In 2020, a couple of agencies see it reaching top popularity, and they tell us why:
Stock Photo Secrets: 360º Photography
Given that Virtual Reality, or VR, is on the rise in many other areas of technology such as video games and films, it is no surprise that it has found its way into photography. It will take on a slightly different form however, instead of VR headsets and virtual worlds, we would more likely see 360 photography start to rise in popularity.
360 photography refers to photographs or videos that cover a 360-degree spectrum, allowing the viewer to see the image from all angles rather than a specific perspective. While the technology to make this form of photography is still developing, we are seeing early versions on Facebook and Google Maps that are fully functional and give an idea as to what the future may hold for 360 photography.
123RF: 360º Photography
Expect a visual focus on panoramic and immersive shots that pull you into the image. Capturing the surroundings of a specific location which allows beholders to look at multiple angles and experience a unique behind-the-scenes feel.back to menu ↑
Mental Health Awareness
As the stigma and prejudice around mental health issues are left behind and the importance of mental wellbeing reaches mainstream communication, photography will need to reflect this topic more, and in a real, honest way that invites to the conversation. A lot of these images fall under medical stock photos category.
Alamy: At One with Nature
Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. With conversations around mental health becoming less stigmatised more people are reflecting upon how they can adapt their homes to improve it. This need for being at one with nature is being reflected interior photography.
EyeEm: Reframing Mental Health
As one of the largest health issues facing today’s generations, brand creatives are able to provide a voice to the voiceless. As a goal to strive for in 2020, the way we reframe mental health from a visual perspective is just as important as the conversation itself. This starts with the way we market and campaign around the topic and how we choose the right images.back to menu ↑
Love for Nature
In direct connection with the main trend of environmentalism and eco-preservation, experts see a marked interest for images that celebrate nature, and our connection with the natural elements.
Dreamstime: Lust for Green
We’ve seen a growing lust for nature with people escaping to solitary faraway places. 2020 will move beyond and take a step closer to building our own green refuge, right in the middle of everywhere. People are taking green back into the cities and into their homes so expect all shades of nature’s green to shine next year.
We’ll reconnect with nature amidst an all green background, from the go green initiative to green foliage or green biscay.
123RF: Nature Focus
In the era of strong climate change, we’ll be seeing a higher focus on nature and the great outdoors. Environmental photography is trending with the likes of both humans and wildlife living with the result of human impacts on Earth.back to menu ↑
Present in visual trends for a few years now, some experts still see mobile photography as a stand-alone trend for 2020.
Stock Photo Secrets: Vertical Imagery
With the rapid evolution of smartphones over the last decade (focusing especially on built-in cameras), it is unsurprising that they have had an impact on photography and the stock photo industry in general. This change comes in the form of more images using a portrait photography style over landscape, and is attributed by some to the rise of smartphone use. As a result, portrait (or vertical) imagery is one to look out for over the coming year to see if this trend continues to rise.
Shutterstock: Real Images and Natural Light
Kseniia Perminova: Mobile photography, I think, will be one of the leading trends. People want to see in advertising what they see with their own eyes. Moreover, it is much easier for both the photographer and the buyer to use a smartphone, anywhere and anytime, without worrying about finding a studio or workspace. Similarly, I think pictures with natural light (made without the use of additional lighting equipment and filters) will be in demand too.back to menu ↑
Some agencies see a growing interest in images that celebrate the past and bring it back to contrast with the more modern themes and concepts that populate the visual field today.
123RF: Retro Vibes
Vintage photography effects and moods from the past are a trend that has transcended time. We’ll see more retro shots with chromatic colours and vintage frames that bring us back to the good ol’ days.
Alamy: New Generation Nostalgia
Nostalgia is defined as sentimentality for the past. This fresh take on the theme of nostalgia looks at how elements from the past are being modernised and used in a 21st-century setting. This trend is about forgetting heavily styled retro shoots and focussing on bringing these themes up to date.back to menu ↑
Minimalist, Monochromatic Layouts
Composition will see a lot of clean layouts that play with the collage and clipping concepts in monochrome or dual-tone schemes, resembling the old collage technique.
Photocase: Clipping & Mounting
We see more and more pictures with monochromatic backgrounds. We can't quite speak of the revival of the clipping yet, but the development clearly goes in the direction of the use of individual picture elements in the form of montages and collages. This is the reaction of image processors to Deep Fake technology or fake news in the style of the US president's Sharpie-Gate affair.
123RF: Layout Aesthetic
Minimal and clean layouts are trending photography aesthetics to look out for in the coming year. With the potential clutter subtracted, minimalist photography can be a soothing alternative to busy, bustling shots.
back to menu ↑
More Individual Trends!
Experts from various stock photo agencies pointed to trends that maybe others didn't pick up in their research. Does this mean such trends are less relevant? Of course not! It's actually a great way of having a bigger scope on the visual industry for the year ahead, so we encourage you to check them out too.
Photocase: Dark Areas
Nothing's worse than last year's latest craze. Backlight flare effects are now officially out again and graphic artists are happy about the many photos with huge black shadow areas that make placing text so much easier. These images live from the strong contrast effect created by the dark areas. The viewer mentally replaces what is hidden in the dark thus engaging with the picture, which creates tension
Stock Photo Secrets: Aerial Photography
Touched upon in 2019, aerial photography was once an unattainable endeavour. With the rise of drone availability and sales, it is easier than ever to take to the skies and capture the world beneath. Providing a unique perspective on the world around us, this striking type of photography (drone photography) is a growing favourite. We have seen some breathtaking aerial photography over the last year when the trend was just finding its feet, but given its popularity, we are fully expecting to see many more images of the type into 2020.
123RF: Macro Shots
Getting up close and personal will be a fresh visual focus we can center on in 2020. With themes concentrating on nature, insects, and animals, expect to zoom in on the finest details that surround us.
Alamy: Lose Yourself Locally
We're seeing a growing trend for local travel, people aren't wanting to increase their carbon footprint by traveling abroad and are instead exploring the destinations and activities they can enjoy that are local to them. This doesn't mean the trips or images are boring, on the contrary, it's encouraging people to find excitement and adventures they never realised existed.
Alamy: Food with Family
Known as the long-hour culture, more people than ever are working from dawn till dusk. As our work lives become busier it's become ever so important that we make the most of family time, and many would agree that there is one thing that brings the family together – food. Spending those precious moments with the little ones at breakfast, baking with your mum on a Sunday afternoon, or sitting down on a Friday evening to share a pizza with the people that mean the most to you. Within Alamy's current lifestyle collection there is a real grasp of authentic imagery that captures families coming together in this way.
EyeEm: The Commercial Creative
Brands are borrowing from iconic 20th-century art movements, blending postmodernist art design elements with multiple references to pop art, Memphis Group design, still life artworks, and Miami Pastel color palettes. Within this trend, there is a strong relationship between adventurous subject juxtaposition, millennial social expression, and clever copywriting.back to menu ↑
Come and meet the 8 top stock photo agencies that provided us with their creative experts' insights on visual trends, including this years photo trend and also stock illustrations:
Photocase is a Berlin-based stock photo agency that has been excelling in artsy, unconventional stock images for two decades. They have a highly curated, exclusive library full of the kind of intimate and sort of weird stock photos that are so in demand today. This agency is awesome if you look for images for social networks.
Wanna know more? Read our Photocase review.
Want to buy their trendy photos? Find them below and make use of our Photocase Coupon for 5 free credits + 10% off in your purchase!
Shutterstock‘s catalogue of over 300 million images makes it one of the biggest stock image banks in our times, and one that is heavily commercial-oriented, hosting large varieties of pictures from professional photographers on every topic, style, and composition you can imagine. They've been at the top of the industry for over 15 years.
Wanna know more? Read our Shutterstock review.
And to buy their cool images, just click on them on this article, and grab our Shutterstock Coupon Codes for up to 15% discount!
Just like the name gives away, Adobe Stock is a stock imagery service owned by Adobe, that is fully integrated into their Creative Cloud applications for a seamless design workflow, but can also be used as a stand-alone stock photo agency. It offers over 100 million images on every topic and style, and they're sharp, carefully curated and skill-shot pictures that will lift up any commercially-oriented graphic.
Wish to know the details? Read our Adobe Stock review.
To acquire their trendy images, simply click on them in this report. And don't forget you can test their service for free with this cool Adobe Stock Free Trial!
Stock Photo Secrets Shop
As you likely guessed, this is our own stock photo service. Stock Photo Secrets is oriented to small and medium-sized businesses, beginner artists and freelancers, and creatives working under budget in general. We have a selection of around 6 million photos, vector illustrations, and fonts awaiting you, and we push up to 100,000 new images every month to make sure the trendiest content is included.
Wanna know more? Read our Stock Photo Secrets review.
Dreamstime is one of the top 6 stock photo agencies in the market almost since its origins over 15 years ago. They offer a huge collection of over 119 million pictures that is both up to date with visual trends and accessible, reasons why so many customers choose them.
Wanna know more? Read our Dreamstime review.
If you're ready to buy images from their library found in this article, just sign up for free at Dreamstime and start downloading!
One of the big 6 stock photo agencies since the early 2000s, 123RF provides a catalogue with millions of stock images ready to download and use commercially, and they thrive to keep their selection trendy and modern to meet your needs.
Wanna know more? Read our 123RF review.
Want to download the lovely images from them included in this report? Just click on them, and grab our special 123RF Coupon with up to 20% off in your purchase!
Alamy is a very well established stock photography agency with an impeccable history. Their library is full of trendy shots ready to be used in your designs, and they have various licensing options too.
Wanna know more? Read our Alamy review.
Ready to buy their photos? Just click on them on this article and download them with up to 25% off using our exclusive Alamy Coupon!
Start the Year Designing Fresh with Photography Trends 2020
And that's it! Those are all the photography trends 2020.
Just like our expert Ivanna anticipated above, next year's visual content is all about authenticity and intimacy, with the main topics being strongly influenced by the events happening around the globe: fight against global warming, a return of humans to nature, empowerment, and individuality.
Now you know what will be hot in the photography world in 2020, it's time to analyse how you can blend these trends into your graphics –be them for social media, websites, billboards, etc.– to make them current and appealing.
Let the designing muse visit you and start planning what cool, in the now visuals you're going to create next.