The Hottest Photography Trends to Try: From Retro to Vivid Colors

Ready to snap to it? Here are the top Photography Trends taking the world by storm...

Photography Trends
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated August 24, 2023

Over the past decade, photography trends have gone through some big changes as the industry adapts to the new creative landscape. Heavily influenced by the evolution of smartphone technology and social media, photo trends have become less about artistic expression and more about being innovative, bold and cutting-edge.

An art form invented in the 1830s, photography is based on capturing the world around us. So it’s no surprise that digital photography trends often reflect the trends and issues affecting our society, such as diversity, environmentalism and social change.

As a photographer, designer or any kind of creative, knowing what’s trending in the photography world can be super useful for creating engaging, relevant and purposeful content. Whether for wedding shots, stock images, or product photography, knowing what to shoot and how to shoot it can put you way ahead of the photography game.

Ready to snap to it? Here are the top Photography Trends to try.

Photo Trends 2020

01. Vivid Colors

Photography Trends - Vivid Colors

Bold, bright and eye-catching, vivid colors are a surefire way to add some va-va-voom to your visuals. With a focus on bold and saturated hues, vivid colors enable designers and photographers to present otherwise ordinary imagery – such as flowers, food, buildings and people – in a more abstract and arresting way. 

Whether used as a splash of color, a two-tone monochrome – as seen in Estudio Como’s food photography – or an all out color explosion, vivid colors can be a super fun, playful, and vivacious way to bring some more life into your work.

Check out this CyberPunk Photoshop Action by UnicDesign to convert your images into futuristic dual-color works of art. Or try these Bright Colors Mobile & Desktop Lightroom Presets by creativetacos to add vibrant and colorful tones to your photos. 

02. Minimalist Photography

Photography Trends - Minimalist Photography
FORM&SEEK vol. I – Hande Yıldırım

In this increasingly busy and complex world, sometimes lens is more! Extending well beyond the reaches of photography and design, the minimalism trend has been a welcome breath of fresh air, providing a sense of balance and calmness that we’re all searching for.

The simplicity and potency of minimalist imagery can be the perfect way to make a client stand out, or depict beautiful visuals of everyday things in an unusual or elegant way – as seen in the collection FORM&SEEK vol.I.

Minimalism can also be accented by the use of muted tones, monochromatic color palettes or even empty space to emphasise your the subject of your photo.

Check out our Minimalism and Monochrome collections, or to simplify your own photos, give this MINIMAL – LUTs Pack | Color Grading by allanthedp a try.

03. Surrealism Photography

Photography Trends - Surrealism Photography
BarriersTim Tadder

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is as it seems! So, it’s no surprise that more and more photographers and designers are embracing the world of surrealism and experimental photography

Originating from renowned artists such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, surrealism is all about delving into the human subconscious, rejecting rationality, and championing strange imagery to transport viewers to an alternate reality.

A huge trend throughout 2020, smoke bombs and smoke effects are a fantastic way to add a sense of surrealism to your visual compositions. The combination of surreal color palettes and the dreamy smoke patterns can add a mesmerizing element to your photos, as seen in the incredible work of Tim Tadder.

Floating objects are another effective way of integrating a sense of surrealism into your work. This technique, which creates the illusion of objects hovering in time and space, can be great for giving product photography a point of difference. 

Check out this Floating Objects collection, or create your own surreal smoke photo effect with this Smoke Animation Photoshop Action by sreda.

04. Authentic Photography

Photography Trends - Authentic Photography Elizabeth Arden
5th Avenue | Elizabeth ArdenIlona D.Veresk

Moving away from our obsession with perfection, authentic photography has become a massive trend this year and one that is only going to continue to grow.

With social media now an endless stream of flatlays, sponsored posts and unattainable beauty standards, there’s been an emerging appetite for more authentic representation of ordinary people, lifestyles and experiences in photography.

Embraced by big brands such as Elizabeth Arden and Nike, the spontaneity and sincerity of authentic, candid photography allows not only more room for imperfection, but more room for relatability.

For realistic and authentic imagery, take a look at the Candid Photography collection over at Twenty20.

05. Vertical Photography

Photography Trends - Vertical Photography
Vogue Roses Juco Photo

Let’s get vertical! With the rapid evolution of smartphones and social media, vertical images – a framing option usually reserved for portrait photography – is fast becoming the preferred photo orientation for many photographers.

While heavily influenced by the popularity of Instagram Stories and TikTok, social distancing and working from home has certainly led to an increase of people creating and consuming content at home on their phones, which has only spurred on this already burgeoning trend.

To integrate more vertical images into your projects, take a look at our curated collection on Envato Elements.

06. Macro, 360 and Aerial Photography

Photography Trends - Macro and Aerial Photography
Streams – Davy Evans

As technology continues to evolve exponentially, photographers are constantly striving to capture the world through different perspectives. Uncovering things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, drones, 360 degree cameras and macro lenses have increased in popularity as they’ve become cheaper and more readily available, resulting in an array of stunning photographs and unique perspectives.

Aerial photography allows us to see gorgeous, naturally-occurring patterns in the world around us that we are unable to see from the ground, while Macro photography explores the abstract compositions found when zoomed right into chemical reactions, showcasing the beauty that can be captured on a smaller scale.

On the other hand, 360 degree photography challenges our perceptions by warping our view to creatively contort landscapes into something completely different.

To see your work from a different perspective, take a look at our collections of Aerial images and Macro images on Envato Elements, or check out this 360 degree view of a palm tree by byrdyak.

07. Retro Photography

Photography Trends - Retro Photography
D a n i e l a – Nacho Borrella

The retro trend has absolutely exploded over the last year, seeing a resurgence of nostalgic aesthetics, warm tones and analogue-style photography. The glowing tonal qualities of film have now been replicated within digital photography, allowing you to edit photos after the fact or even snap a Polaroid or 35mm photo all from the comfort of your smartphone.  

Featuring a wide range of beautiful vintage effects such as sepia tones, light flares, film effects, scratches, borders and LUTs reminiscent of photos past, the retro photography trend has really taken off this year – particularly across social media and music photography.

This Retrograde Photoshop Action pack by twinbrush is perfect for emulating the analogue photography look, or if retro design is right up your alley, check out our Retro Design Trends piece for more inspiration!

08. Support for Social Movements

Photography Trends - Support for Social Movements
Black Lives Matter Protest Portraits – Jeremy Cowart

With the rise in political activism for social and environmental issues across the world this year, it’s no surprise we’re seeing more of these social movements reflected in photography.

With issues such as equality, environmentalism, feminism and cultural diversity becoming more and more visible in the public domain, people want to see more representation of these issues in the content they consume. 

Visually, support for social movements can be represented in a variety of ways, such as these powerful portraits of BLM brutality victims to amplify the voices of the black community, or these rainbow colored portraits and imagery educating people on the diversity of the Pride movement.

The common denominator being a focus on images representing progressive ideals, inclusivity and a sense of community. There’s no denying that support for social movements is a photography trend that will only continue to develop. 

Twenty20 has a huge range of collections that support the social movements of today. Check out the Activism collection, Female Empowerment collection, Diversity collection, Environment collection, or march on over to the LGBTQI+ Pride collection to discover why ‘love is love’.

And there you have it folks – the top Photography Trends of 2020! If you’re all about staying trendy, check out more of our blogs on Instagram Trends, Organic Design Trends or our Mid Year Trend Review for 2020!

Love the artwork for this blog? So do we! Feature image created using items from Melanie Kim and Cruzine on Twenty20 and Envato Elements.

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