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10 themes in photography trending right now

April 28, 2021

In 2021, photography remains the most widely-used form of visual communication. It is one of the best ways to convey product information to potential clients, build your brand’s presence, and gain consumer trust. Photos also make up content libraries on stock photography platforms such as Depositphotos.

The Depositphotos team analyzed contributor portfolios and discovered what type of stock images are in demand this year. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of photo trends that will guide your content, and help you understand your audience’s needs better.

View our previous article, in which we discuss visual trends in communication: What visual trends will dominate communication in 2021?

1. Masks as a symbol

Medical masks and respirators have become a crucial part of our wardrobes. When going to the supermarket or walking down the street, we can come across a variety of designs for these items. In a sense, it has become an additional source of information about the person wearing it, as well as a symbol of time. For this reason, photographers and marketers started using “masked” model images to convey their messages and document our reality.

2. Meaningful colors

Colors are powerful because they have the ability to evoke emotion. For example, warm and friendly color palettes make an audience feel safe, confident, and optimistic. In this day and age, positivity is key. Symbols of Optimism ranks first in the Depositphotos list of visual communication trends. Color alone can serve as this symbol whether you’re working with abstract or product photography.

If you don’t know where to start, explore Pantone’s Colors of the Year 2021 (Ultimate Gray and Illuminating), or Dulux’s Color of the Year (Brave Ground).

3. Vertical shots

The pandemic has accelerated certain processes that were already taking place in marketing and tech. For example, the dominance of mobile devices over desktop ones when it comes to online activity.

In 2021, it’s more important for an eCommerce brand to have an app and a mobile-friendly website, than a desktop-oriented web platform. Moreover, key social networks such as TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more are mobile-first. For this reason, the demand for vertical photography is constantly increasing.

4. No more stereotypes

The trend for variety in visual communication progresses every day. There’s a growing demand for images with people of different ages, skin colors, cultures, health conditions, and genders. We see a reflection of this trend in advertising that celebrates diversity

Photos of smiling women have always been popular on stocks. However, images of women have significantly transformed over the years, especially with stereotypes becoming a thing of the past. Promising themes for photography today are female empowerment and body positivity.

5. Re-exploring nature

In our 2021 Visual Trends Report, we discussed how nature has the ability to heal our minds during these turbulent times. We called this trend Solace in Nature. This hypothesis was recently confirmed by statistics. Over the past few months, stock platform customers have been purchasing images of nature more often.

There’s a lot of hidden potential in the nature category for creatives. Portraits might not be an option in many countries due to quarantine restrictions, but nature is always at hand for artists.

6. Home studio still lifes

Social distancing has motivated artists to change things up within the still life genre. They’re looking at their surroundings from a different perspective now and creating unique visuals. Fans of macro photography have achieved particular success by pushing the boundaries of product photography.

The trend towards minimalism, which hasn’t faded into the background for several years, has also made an appearance in still-life photography. Thanks to this, we have abstract and surrealistic compositions, as well as flat lays that can be used as main images or backgrounds by marketers.

7. Family circle

Photographers are having difficulties finding subjects for their artistic endeavors. In order to organize a safe outdoor or studio photoshoot, there are a lot of precautions that need to be taken. This can be time-consuming and not always convenient. If they want to generate portrait content regularly, they can use your roommates, family members, pets, neighbors, and yourself as models.

Soulful and sincere “home” photography is becoming prevalent in brand communication due to global lockdowns. The attention focus of modern consumers has shifted towards their families and cohabitants. For this reason, visuals depicting small communities are receiving more attention.

8. Light nostalgia

People are fond of capturing time through photography. For this reason, we all have childhood photos that bring back memories and make us want to share them.

Generations Y and Z are known for showing interest in the past decades (the 60s and 80s to be exact). This has already been reflected in modern advertising, cinema, and fashion. Pictures with aesthetics from the past are at the peak of their popularity today.

9. Disarming authenticity

The concept of authenticity is difficult to describe. Last year, Depositphotos launched a competition dedicated to authentic photography (view the list of winners). The participants were asked to show what authenticity means to them.

Your brand’s answer to this question may differ from what most people think. However, everyone can agree that authenticity in photography is the opposite of over-edited, staged, and over-glamorized images. This type of content inspires less confidence among modern netizens and they avoid it.

10. Dramatic aerial shooting

Aerial photography remains in trend and is growing in popularity. It has recently become a photographer’s solution to the social distancing rule. What makes it even better is that technology cheapens over time, so modern drones for professional photo shoots are becoming more affordable. For this reason, we’re able to see more outstanding imagery on stock photography platforms.

As a result, aerial photography is also developing quickly. The list of ‘drone’ genres was expanded to include aerial fashion, sports, and wedding photography. If you want to stand out with your marketing campaigns, now is the time to experiment with aerial photography.

Wrapping up

Photography trends are a reflection of how we see the world, and how our values have progressed over time. Some trends are an indication of how far technology has advanced

In 2021, staged and over-edited photography is becoming a thing of the past. It is being replaced by imagery that is real and authentic. This is because we no longer want to focus on superficial topics. The global pandemic has had a huge impact on our interests, which is why we’ve become more responsive to important things in life, such as nature and family.


photography trends
visual trends 2021