Photography Trends 2022: Inspiring Visuals for the Coming Year

The new year is ahead of us, and that can only mean one thing: new, exciting visual trends to embrace! 

The team at Stock Photo Secrets, in collaboration with our trusted friends at the top stock photo agencies, has collected the top Photography Trends 2022 to inspire your upcoming designs and keep you on top of your visual marketing game.

Scroll down and discover the most beautiful photos and illustrations that will reign this year! And stay tuned, there are more to come! 

Hint: Photography trends are a hugely helpful resource if you want to start selling photos online!

Want even more creative insight? Don't miss our Color Trends 2022 edition!

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Shutterstock 2022 Creative Trends

Every year, we analyze what Shutterstock users around the world are searching for. By tallying up the content in their crosshairs, we have the power to reveal what trends are propelling creative projects worldwide. Plus, new Shutterstock.AI performance data can pull back the curtain on what content is working (i.e. driving click-through-rates) and what’s not (i.e. driving in circles).

This year, we’ve seen incredible interest in 2 unique themes:

Time and Space.

The Shutterstock Team


Travel back in time to a past that never existed—or did it?

Ancient warriors settling scores with sword and shield. Stone castles looming large in the distance. A fascination with fantasy and the extraordinary is seeing an uptick, which means you’ll be seeing it in upcoming projects all year round.

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The Macabre

Some things wicked this way come.

Think you spotted something out of the corner of your eye? Is your hair standing on end? You’re not alone—our users are clamoring for all things horror, from the jeepers to the creepers and everything in between.

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Copyright: Cl Photos/, all rights reserved

Way Out West

The wild frontier gets a digital reboot.

A trend in the direction of where the sun sets is spurring creatives around the globe to tip their 10-gallon hats, saddle up, and mosey on out to the Badlands.

shutterstock 1806407137 > Photography Trends 2022: Inspiring Visuals for the Coming Year
Copyright: Bibadash/, all rights reserved

On the Road Again

Take your designs full throttle—with yourself in the driver’s seat.

The long and winding road is capturing the imagination of creatives everywhere. From uncharted trails along the mountainside to vast and open landscapes pointing toward the horizon. Perhaps it’s because a drive is no longer bumper to bumper for many of us that the highways and byways look so appealing.

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Copyright: Pat Tr/, all rights reserved

Cyberpunk is Not Dead

Tomorrow’s high-tech aesthetics with today’s real-world grit.

It seems like creatives are hardwired to augment their work with cyberpunk aesthetics—search terms for this trend constantly come up in our data but it's looking to have a banner year in 2022.

The glossy, neon reflection of rainy streets. The labyrinth of cables connecting us to devices, and those devices, in turn, connecting us to the world. And with virtual this and virtual that becoming more and more the norm, representations of the digital world in design are increasingly popular and seemingly universal.

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What's Cookin'

Discover a taste of the world around you.

Creatives are hungry for some international fare. This means next year we'll be digging into irresistible visuals collected across the globe and sprinkled into projects from Babylon to Timbuktu.

Regional cuisines are seeing global interest as users search for visuals of all types of ingredients and come back for seconds.

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Adobe Stock 2022 Creative Trends Forecast

While a year or two ago, brands reacted to the pandemic and its associated social distancing, mask requirements, and other behavior changes with cautious, subdued messaging, things have evolved. Key themes like comfort, connection, and self-care in the face of mounting global challenges continue to appear. However, there is also a growing confidence and acceptance of our new reality — with companies in nearly every sector embracing remote or hybrid work and the digital transformation that only accelerates with each passing season.

As more of us live more of our lives online — through video meetings, asynchronous and remote digitally-enabled work, social media networks, massive online gaming communities, and now the rising metaverse — two major themes stand out. First, people are hungry for optimism, and that unquenchable thirst for fun, whimsy, and play is evident across ages, industries, and brand categories. And second, we are all even hungrier for authentic, meaningful connection, determined to protect the wellbeing of ourselves and loved ones.

These two central drivers are deeply felt and deeply human, and they complement each other, in the ideas they spark and the visuals needed to express them.

The Adobe Stock Team

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Powerfully Playful

It’s almost overwhelming how many brands and commercial campaigns are offering themes of optimism and playfulness. Powerfully Playful delights with bright, bold colors, games and dancing, animated elements, and a big dash of nostalgia. For weary consumers across sectors from fashion and beauty, food and beverage, and other major product segments, this trend focuses on a sense of laughter, enthusiasm, and hope. Underneath the whimsy, at the core of this trend is grit: the determination to keep going and keep smiling in the face of mounting challenges, no matter how steep.

Adobe Stock 2022 Visual Trends Powerfully Playful By Maskot > Photography Trends 2022: Inspiring Visuals for the Coming Year
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The Centered Self

With the effects of the coronavirus pandemic still reverberating throughout the world and the bumpy, uneven return to public life for many introducing new stresses, we are all battling with some degree of burnout and self-doubt. In uncertain and challenging moments, people are turning en masse to the value of prioritizing and sustaining their mental health. With even world-famous elite athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles protecting themselves by withdrawing from high profile sporting events, there is growing mainstream acknowledgement of the right we all have — to exercise strong boundaries in service to our mental wellbeing.

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Prioritize Our Planet

Public concerns about the environment and climate change are at an all-time high. 2021 brought one natural disaster after another from floods to fires, continually bringing the reality of climate change into the headlines. The visual trend we have dubbed Prioritize Our Planet is more than just a continuation of the move toward greater sustainability, however; it captures an accelerating mainstream hunger for regeneration and reversal of our course towards environmental devastation. As consumers gain greater awareness and sophistication around environmental topics, major brands continue to emphasize their alignment with those values.

Adobe Stock 2022 Visual Trends Prioritize Our Planet By guille Faingold Stocksy > Photography Trends 2022: Inspiring Visuals for the Coming Year
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In the Groove

Mainstream campaigns are packed with dynamic movement. Even in still advertisements, visuals depicting the swirls of clothing and hair or the graceful lines of dancing bodies in motion are having more than a moment. Movement as a central subject in brand campaigns is not only beautiful and visually inspiring — it is also a way for us to experience physicality without needing to touch. Even though we may be alone, working remotely, socially distanced from one another, these visuals allow us to stay sensually connected, at least in our minds.

Adobe Stock 2022 Visual Trends In the Groove By Yakobchuk Olena > Photography Trends 2022: Inspiring Visuals for the Coming Year
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Soft Pop

Soft Pop is a trend defined by fun, pliable forms. These visuals are largely characterized by 3D cartooning, character narrative, and squishy appearances. A design-centric relative of the Powerfully Playful visual trend, Soft Pop oozes with playful optimism and sweet colors. Recurring elements of this trend include emojis, cartoons, and symbols loaded with personality; soft, rounded, curved, or exaggerated shapes and forms. Type is a huge part of this trend, with dimensional, bubble, or other statement typefaces springing off the screen in advertising, lettering, identity and character design.

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New Naturalism

New Naturalism aesthetics are defined by their clean modernism and almost-clinical elevation of the organic. These visuals are inspired by process art, post-minimalism, and clean living. Most prominently appearing in fresh, contemporary designs that highlight compositional elements to make a statement, we are seeing New Naturalism emerge in many industries, most notably in fashion, beauty, and interior design. Black, white, and terracotta color palettes mix in earth tones like mossy, deep greens, anchoring this trend back to the soil.

Adobe Stock 2022 Design Trends New Naturalism By Виктория Ковальчук > Photography Trends 2022: Inspiring Visuals for the Coming Year
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Heritage Craft

Celebrating creative craft and heritage with handmade illustration and design elements, Heritage Craft explodes with a layered and joyful maximalism from all over the world by examining local folk art, patterns, illustration, and design. The trend presents different hyperlocal and regional art and design elements, mixing the colorful, hand-drawn, and chaotic with both organic and geometric shapes. Beyond geometry, we see an abundance of figures and nature themes, as well as decorative serif or hand-drawn type. This trend is especially strong in textile and pattern design, packaging and identity design, illustration, and seasonal stationery and layouts.

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Otherworldly Visions

Otherworldly Visions draws from a slightly cynical yet imaginative and progressive alternative reality. Melding influences and elements from Afrofuturism, solarpunk, and vaporwave aesthetics, these designs can include softened color gradients, ethereal illustrations, optical illusions, and wild design combinations exploring dreamy contrasts. Highly sophisticated and intellectually informed, this trend inherits high-tech elements from cyberpunk and sci-fi aesthetics, yet takes them to an entirely new place with lush, surreal gradients, 3D surfaces and textures, and out of this world fashion and set design, on- and off-screen.

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Dreamstime’s Visual Trends 2022

In a nutshell, next year trends are about:
– Visual retrospection and classic stock concepts in a contemporary light

– Moving on to redefining and living the new ‘normal’

– Journeys to inner and outer spaces

– Inhabiting virtual spaces

The Dreamstime Team

Back to Basics

Our nostalgia for pre-pandemic times will revive some good old stock photo topics and put them in a different light and setting, closer to what we need and who we are NOW.


Pandemic isolation may have been dismaying at times, but it also allowed a self-discovery of one’s inner strength and limits. Solitude has constantly refined the art of self/portrayal, so we expect 2022 to show the new faces of transition and metamorphosis. From bad day selfies or self-acceptance visual stories to surreal portraits, we’ll celebrate the people in front of the camera and their stories next year.

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Recycled stock classics

On a positive note, we may think everything’s changed dramatically, but it is often the proportions that have been altered. We work more from home, less from the office, spend more time with families and meet with fewer friends and acquaintances. Home, family, and feelin’ good photos will make their strong come back, this time with a more authentic and gentler twist. We need optimism and optimistic images. You cannot get a more genuine feeling than families going out or friends reuniting after pandemic lockdowns. Heartwarming! 

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Online Essentials

Product photography and still lifes will be at their peak in 2022. Shopping habits have shifted, and the Internet has seen a massive increase in online orders of just about anything. Social media will never grow tired of its essentials, laid out clearly and cleverly! In-trend colors, top view angles, great lighting, fewer items, simpler settings, and nature-friendly props may just make your image stand out.

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Just Nature

2022 will bring the whole of nature back into the picture. Simple nature shots and clean landscapes have always been soothing and familiar to us, so don’t be surprised to enjoy more of these. Our lust for green has not faded away; it has grown and expanded. Budding for years with flowery patterns or leafy green backgrounds, it will now flower into 360degrees solitary landscapes of just nature. We no longer want pieces and bits of green. We want our (online) spaces filled with reassuring nature visuals, perfect inspiration for pandemic escapism. VR tour of the world’s wonders, anyone? 

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Science, technology, and visuals have already traveled a long way together; they will only merge further in 2022. Call it virtual evolution.

Into Space

This journey has just begun. Naturally driven by curiosity, thirsty for innovation, we’ll travel more and more in outer space in the years to come. And if we are not the ones traveling yet, we’ll be the ones watching it, discussing it, anticipating it. It will be vast and have plenty of space to fill with visual content. Dreamstime’s best sellers in 2021 revolve around the revolving Earth, and as we go further into the universe, the stock photo world will keep on spinning in loops of deep space galaxies and milky ways. 

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The recently launched Metaverse heralds a digital space where real and virtual become inextricably interchangeable. Stemming from our desire to experience the online as if it were real-life, visuals will get more complex and include more than just images or footage. Expect a more elaborate virtual adventure when shopping, studying, or playing games online.

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3D Backgrounds

Again, the dissolution of real/virtual boundaries will fuel the need for 3D backgrounds as they bring depth, texture, and life-like tactility to a design. While geometric or more organic designs will still be very much in-trend next year, we’ll surely see 3d backgrounds mixed with other elements such as photos or illustrations for an enhanced effect.

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Simplified line icons 

We predicted the need for icon simplicity in 2021, expect it to continue in 2022. Apart from being some of Dreamstime’s bestsellers again, icons are versatile and practical. In a world so complex, they simplify. They adapt to any color palette, work on any background (solid colors, gradients, photos, textured backgrounds), and convey information concisely.

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 Moving ON

The pandemic brought some inertia – mental, physical, financial, and creative. For a while, the world stopped and gasped. If 2021 was about trying to get back to ‘normal,’ 2022 year will be about getting to the new normal.


Our lives changed more than ever in an incredibly short period of time. Everyone had to reboot and adjust. People had to find ways of staying healthy, both in body and spirit, learn how to balance personal life and work-from-home routine, find alternatives to connect with others, and cope with restrictions. It’s the age of digital nomads. And while we can’t wait for the pandemic to be over, some newly acquired habits will be just ordinary life from now on. 

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In action

If there is anything we have learned lately, it’s that everything is dynamic and can be reconfigured at any time. Society, technology, art, life itself are in continuous restless movement, and so is photography. With footage taking over visual content production and preferences, photography can only keep up with statement photos or in-action shots that move the audience, both figuratively and literally. 

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Beyond grey

If wood and wooden textures were best sellers for the past years, it’s now stone and stony grey you’re after. The color of the in-between space, of the thin line of neither here nor there, grey speaks of uncertainty while conveying solidity. Neutral, so perfect for backgrounds. Achromatic, so perfect to accompany bold colors. Whether you’re making a statement, a template, or shooting food on a stone background, remember that all colors look brighter on grey. 

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 Act now

Speaking of grey and colors, 2022 is going extremely green. Ecology is already a stock photo classic, but 2021 brought a sense of urgency in climate change dos and don’ts. From small to big scale actions, people are already reconsidering their lifestyle to reduce their carbon and digital footprints. So 2022 will be about striking and action-focused climate change visuals with a sense of actual involvement.

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Related to this last trend, Dreamstime encourages everyone to get involved in making a change for the better, wherever they are. We wholeheartedly agree!

Dreamstime Photo credits: Milkos, Pavlo Romanchenko, Volodymyr Melnyk, Amazingmikael, Sotnikovmikhail, Pojoslaw, Evgenyatamanenko, Nadtochiy, Fizkes, MoonSafarii, Irina Kvyatkovskaya, Elena Nazarova, Metkalova, Anna Merkulova, Siarhei Dzmitryienka, Denis Belitskiy, Pixelliebe, Louis Michel Desert, Denis Belitskiy, Forplayday, Romolo Tavani, Wacomka, Ievgenii Tryfonov, Wave Break Media Ltd, Sergey Tinyakov, Pop Nukoonrat, Andreaobzerova, Nadiinko, Skymaxx, Denis Kobzev, Wacomka, Hdim1993, Nadiinko, Keng62fa, Blankstock, Pedro Neves, Dashadima, Soloway, Simona Pilolla, Tirachard Kumtanom, Pojoslaw, Simona Pilolla, Maksym Fesenko, Pv Productions, Annaav, Volodymyr Melnyk, Vasyl Chipiha, Olindana, Serpentofmoon, Katarzyna Bialasiewicz, Catwoman10, Aleksandr Kirillov, Freemanhan2011, Mrdoomits, Dabsxl, RockfordMedia, Eduard Muzhevskyi, Oleg Kozytskyi, Eduard Muzhevskyi, David Kopaleishvili, Dzina Belskaya, Kazzakova, Wave Break Media Ltd, Discovod, Kondratova, Alexey Kuzin.
Do you fancy yourself a trend analyst? Or simply want an even greater insight on visual trends? We have annual reports going back 7 years! Check them out:

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!

What is the most popular form of photography?

Hands down, lifestyle photography (photos of people) is the most popular photography genre of them all, an evergreen trend that doesn't go away.

What is the current trend for photography?

In terms of style, authentic photography is still at its peak. As for concepts, time and outer space, meaningful human connection, positivity, and peaceful living spaces are all very relevant this year.

Is photography a growing industry?

Yes. Photography is both growing and evolving as an industry. The digital environment keeps on demanding more visual content, and so photography (and stock photography) is in high demand.

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Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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