2016 Photography Trends: What’s New and What’s Coming


Photography and design go hand-in-hand. Designers often double as photographers, and it’s vital to have a good eye for photography when incorporating it into design work.

Who better to consult about what’s new in the world of photography than someone who sees the latest stock photography every day? I spoke with Stocksy CEO and co-founder Brianna Wettlaufer about the current state of photography. Here, she shares photography trends she’s seen so far in 2016, as well as what we can expect for the rest of the year and beyond. (All photos provided by Stocksy.)

What new photography trends are you seeing so far in 2016?

As we all continue absorbing amazing photography in our everyday lives through social media, this awareness continues to drive sophistication and understanding of what makes an amazing photograph. We’re moving away from the tired compositions of muted adventure photography in exchange for moments that bring deeper connection with community, genuine people, use of color (or balanced color palettes and intriguing pastels) and a resurgence of film.

Photo Credit: HOWLPhoto Credit: HOWL

Photo Credit: Rob MartinezPhoto Credit: Rob Martinez

What older trends are still going strong?

Light as an artistic element continues to be experimented with and get our attention with geometric shadows, sun rays, and triangles or cascading lines from a window blind.

We expected to reach tired states with double exposures, and the overdone gimmick of silhouettes paired with landscapes, but there’s more to it, like layering colors and light leak effects.

Photo Credit: Sierra PruittPhoto Credit: Sierra Pruitt

Photo Credit: Amy CovingtonPhoto Credit: Amy Covington

Photo Credit: Ali Lanenga

Photo Credit: Ali Lanenga

What did you see a lot of last year that has faded since then?

We’re over a few trends: pictures from behind of people’s backs in front of landscapes, honey being drizzled on food, wood plank backgrounds and we’d be happy to take a little hiatus from smoke bombs.

Black and white: A timeless classic or a thing of the past?

Black and white is definitely timeless. In terms of its place in design, I think over the last ten years people thought they needed color in their marketing materials to grab attention, leaving black and white more in the art world of photography than design. This last year we’ve really seen a shift with black and white selling equally as good to color, we love seeing these artistic compositions changing the calibre of what’s expected in stock.

Photography Trends 119195 Shane GrossPhoto Credit: Shane Gross

Photography Trends 692974 Alexey Kuzma Photo Credit: Alexey Kuzma

Are you seeing any creative trends in video?

We’ve just begun scratching the surface in trends for video as Stocksy gears up to introduce this to our collection. Just as we love film, we’re really loving the statement of a gritty moments caught with a vintage Super 8 video camera.

Photography Trends 233224-Irena FabriPhoto Credit: Irena Fabri

Are we done with neons or are we going to keep seeing more of them? What other color trends have you noticed?

We’re definitely not done with neon, we’re currently loving 35mm light leaks, especially after all the tinted and muted captures of the Pacific Northwest we’ve been looking at over the last five years. (Sorry PNW, we still love you).

Including the amazing color ranges and amplified pastel tones from Kodak film continuing to inspire us in every genres of photography.

 Photography Trends 750306-Daniel Kim PhotographyPhoto Credit: Daniel Kim Photography

Photography Trends 459440-Nemanja Glumac

Photo Credit: Nemanja Glumac

What about Instagram-style filters? They’re pretty recognizable these days. Do you see them fading from mainstream photography or evolving?

Documenting our lives with our phones isn’t something we’re likely to stop in the near future, which includes the need to process those photos on our mobile devices. I don’t know many people anymore who use the default presets in Instagram, but it continues to be a main hub for sharing. Instead the photographers we know continue to hunt for presets that are more and more refined and distinct, true to film and real life.

Photography Trends 576002-Jesse Morrow

Photo Credit: Jesse Morrow 

Photography Trends 173840-Kevin Gilgan

Photo Credit: Kevin Gilgan

In what ways are people using motion in photography these days?

We’re seeing a lot of harsh motion captures caught with an abrasive flash, the look that became somewhat notorious to Terry Richardson. They’re gritty, they’re literal, but they make you feel part of the moment in an honest way that doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard.

Photography Trends 586326-Studio Firma

Photo Credit: Studio Firma

Photography Trends 882460-Evgenij Yulkin

Photo Credit: Evgenij Yulkin

Photography Trends 652448-Studio Firma

Photo Credit: Studio Firma

Brianna Wettlaufer is the co­founder and CEO of Stocksy United, an artist owned, multi stakeholder cooperative in Victoria, BC (Canada).

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.28.05 AMLearn more about photography with these resources from HOW: