Trend-awareness helps photographers understand their clients better, and it helps marketers quickly find material on stocks that will help them stand out among competitors. It also allows them to find a common language with their target audience.

Photography (as well as other aspects of our lives) has undergone a number of changes this year. Most of them are related to global lockdowns. For example, a new spin on self-portraits, drone photography, and still life. However, there are some exceptions. Thus, we have AI-powered photography and editing as a trend that emerged from the natural evolution of technology.

In this article, we’ve summarized 12 key photography trends for 2021. Use them as a guide to develop new ideas, wow your customers, and boost visual communication.


12 Creative Photography Trends to Follow in 2021

#1 Masks are everywhere 

stock photo mask stadium

Since the beginning of last year, accessories such as medical masks and respirators were introduced into 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. As a result, photographers start to use masks on their models as a creative tool.


#2 Shifting to vertical images

stock photo view mountains

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 using the Internet. In 2021, it’s much more important for an eCommerce brand to have an app and a mobile-oriented website, than a desktop-oriented web platform. Moreover, key social networks including TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more are mobile-first. This created the demand for vertical photography.


#3 Growing interest in nature 

stock photo field nature spring

In the 2021 Visual Trend Report, we named this trend Solace in Nature, implying that nature has the ability to heal our mind in these turbulent times. Our hypothesis was recently confirmed by statistics. Over the past months, Depositphotos customers have begun to purchase images of nature more often.

This means there’s a lot of potential in the nature category for photographers. Portrait photography might not be an option in many countries due to quarantine restrictions, but nature is always at hand for artists.


#4 Selfies, family portraits, and small community shooting

stock photo selfie woman

In these months, photographers are having difficulties finding subjects for their artistic endeavors. To organize a safe outdoor or studio photo shoot, you need to take a lot of precautions, which can be time-consuming and not always convenient. At the same time, if you want to generate visual portrait content regularly, you can use your roommates, family members, pets, neighbors, and yourself as models.


#5 Nostalgic outlook

stock photo retro roller

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, in turn, are known for their curiosity and interest in the past decades (in particular, the 60s and 80s). This has already been reflected in modern advertising, cinema, and fashion. Pictures featuring the aesthetics of the past are at the peak of their popularity today.

And one more tip — take the Cinematic Aesthetics route if you don’t know where to start.


#6 AI-powered photography and editing 

Remove Image Backgrounds In a Click With the Depositphotos Free Tool

In most cases, photo stock clients, or those who work directly with a photographer, can’t distinguish a photograph taken using machine learning, from one that is processed using a neural network. And this is exactly why AI is so important to us: technology helps artists save time and effort on routine operations that do not require creativity.

Tools that will make life easier for creatives in 2021 are Adobe Sensei, Pic app, and the AI-powered background removal tool by Depositphotos. Click here to learn more: 3 Ways AI is Changing Photography Right Now.


#7 Changing angles with drones 

stock photo baloon drone aerial

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. As a result, aerial photography is developing quickly. The list of ‘drone’ genres was expanded to include aerial fashion, sports, and wedding photography.

View this collection of drone photography and footage and get inspired.


#8 Authenticity as a dominating force


2nd PLACE Winner of the Depositphotos Photography Contest 2020,  Katalin Száraz, @katalin_szaraz, France

The concept of authenticity is difficult to describe. We came to this conclusion while compiling the list of visual communication trends for 2021. We also launched a competition dedicated to authentic photography in 2020 (view the list of winners). In the context of this competition, we did not require artists to show anything specific but asked them to explain what authenticity means to them.

Your answer to this question may differ from what others think. However, we believe that everyone can agree on the fact that authenticity in photography is the opposite of over-edited, staged, and over-glamorized images.


#9 Puzzling still lives 

stock photo still-life shoe

The restrictions associated with photographing other people motivated artists to change things up within the still life genre. They began looking at their surroundings from a different angle and releasing new unique visuals. Fans of macro photography have achieved particular success.

The trend towards minimalism, which has not faded into the background for several years, has also appeared in still-life photography. Thanks to this, we have abstract and surrealistic compositions, as well as flat lays that can be used both as main images or backgrounds by Depositphotos clients.


#10 Female photography and diversity 

stock photo women diversity

The trend for variety in creative photography has been around for a long time. At Depositphotos, we see the growing demand for images of people of different ages, skin colors, cultures, health conditions, and genders engaging in business, sports, or home activities. We see a reflection of this trend in advertising, which now often features diverse people.

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.

Explore this trending collection we called Femininity Redefined or view non-corny Mother’s Day images.


 #11 Ode to colors

stock photo mountain clouds

Black and white creative photography looks less optimistic than colored photography. Warm (but not aggressive) color palettes make an audience feel safe, confident, and optimistic. Symbols of Optimism ranks first in the list of visual communication trends, according to Depositphotos. These symbols are not only the objects you are shooting but also their colors. For example, Pantone’s Colors of the Year 2021 are Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Dulux’s Color of the Year is Brave Ground.

Explore both collections to get an idea of the perfect color story for this year: The Pantone Colors of the Year 2021 and Color of the Year 2021 Is Brave Ground.

Find even more design and photography ideas: Spring Color Trends 2021: Inspiring Palettes, Photo Collections, and Marketing Ideas


#12 Documenting activism

stock photo activism vegan

Proactive attitudes and social activism have become the most important values for Millennials. The protection of nature, the fight for equality, protests against the exploitation of animals, and zero-waste movements are all highly debated topics in society. Moreover, modern brands can no longer promote themselves without declaring their social mission. Accordingly, activists, brands, and media need images on social issues.


Wrapping up

Photography trends shed a light on what’s really important to brands and their audiences today. They are also a great starting point for developing photography ideas and strengthening your portfolio.

Based on the 12 photography trends described above, we can conclude that 2021 is a good year for those who already have experience in nature photography, still life, and aerial shooting.

The good news for everyone is that technology continues to advance, and routine tasks become less time-consuming for photographers, due to modern AI-powered tools. And these are just a few article takeaways!

However, when studying trends, do not forget that creative photography is not just about the market, but also your unique artistic vision. Enhance your Depositphotos portfolio with new striking images and do not hesitate to experiment. Who knows, you might be onto a new trend one day.

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