1st March, 2024
Happy New Year! (I know it’s almost two weeks into 2023, but I’ve ended my holiday hiatus and return to writing, so welcome back!)
Yesterday, I took a leisurely scroll through the ever-inspiring Pinterest feed, and put together a mood board of photography inspiration to take into the New Year.
As I was performing this essential task, I noticed a few common themes emerging. So, in this blog post, we’ll explore the most exciting photography style trends that are predicted to make an impact in the new year. From vintage aesthetics to bold, experimental approaches, the ongoing resurgence of film photography to the rise of minimalist compositions, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get inspired and push your creative boundaries. So whether you’re a professional photographer or just looking to try something new, keep reading to discover the 5 incredible photography trends we’re paying attention to in 2023.
Film photography, of course
Film has been gaining momentum over the last few years, and is expected to continue to gain popularity, despite its increasing expense. The film resurgence has become popular most notably to a young audience, with single-use cameras offering an accessible way to capture the spice of life as a teen/20-something. In an increasingly digital world, it drew many photographers to the tactile and organic nature of film. The unique look and feel of film images, with their grain, texture and depth, are qualities that are difficult to replicate with digital cameras. There’s an air of authenticity and rarity in film that I think today’s young people are particularly drawn to compared to the over-saturated, over-edited, ever-available and overwhelming digital landscape. I was given a Pentax1000 last year as a Christmas gift, and I’ve found through personal experience that film photography forces photographers to slow down and consider each shot more carefully, leading to more thoughtfully composed images. Because of this rise in popularity, it’s been more difficult to source film, and the film that is available is going up in price. However, this might push film photographers to shoot even more purposefully in 2023.
Trends operate in a cycle, we know this. In the last couple of years, nostalgia surrounding the 1980s has had an immense influence in fashion and media culture. Though we’re seeing 90s style fashion on the rise, I think 70s style media is something to look out for this year. With its warm, earthy tones and retro composition, the 70s aesthetic is a versatile and timeless look that can be adapted to a wide variety of photography genres. It’s basically the equal & opposite of the bright, flashy colour palette of the 80s. From fashion photography to landscape and nature photography, the 70s aesthetic can create a sense of nostalgia and vintage charm. They can achieve the 70s aesthetic through the use of warm and muted color palettes, as well as by incorporating elements such as earth tones, natural materials and retro patterns in the composition. Photographers can use techniques like lens flares, soft focus, and film grain to emulate the look of vintage film cameras. I expect this trend to be popular for photographers looking for a way to create truly unique images with a timeless, vintage appeal.
Manipulation of light
This is less of an aesthetic trend and more a photography technique that I’ve seen popping up more and more. In 2023, I expect to see more photographers using natural and artificial elements to manipulate light and create texture in their photos. Experimenting with the use of mirrors, reflections, water, smoke, and shadows can add depth and visual interest to their images. Mirrors and reflections can create symmetry and contrast, while smoke and shadows can add a sense of mystery and movement to an image. These elements can also create dynamic and abstract compositions, giving photographers a creative way to showcase their personal style. Manipulating light in this way can also create a more three-dimensional image and give the image more depth. This trend is ideal for those who want to try something new, experimental and creative for their work, and we can adapt it to any genre of photography like portraits, landscape and still life.
Cinematic angles & edits
Another trend that’s seen a steady rise over the last 6 months is the use of stylistically cinematic techniques in both photography and editing. Even in “amateur” iPhone photography, we’ve seen people experiment with interesting angles and techniques over the last year (i.e., the 0.5x zoom trend), and I expect this exploration to continue to feed into 2023 photography.
Photographers are increasingly emulating the look and feel of film and cinema in their images, using techniques such as shallow depth of field, high contrast, and desaturated colors. These techniques can create a sense of drama and tension in an image, and are particularly well-suited to portraiture and fashion photography. In addition, many photographers are also experimenting with more advanced techniques, such as color grading. This trend allows to create a storytelling in the image, and more emotive and nostalgic feeling. I’ve observed an increase in explorative rule-breaking within this style; photographers have leaned into intentionally blurry pictures, to depict movement or mood, or shot at angles and in poses that would traditionally be considered “a bad photo”. Social media’s shift toward video-based content only reinforced this style. By using these cinematic techniques, photographers can create images that are not only visually striking but also tell a story and evoke emotions in the viewer.
The trend of minimalism has been growing in the photography world for some time. We’ve seen the “clean girl aesthetic”, curated 3-tone Instagram grid, white, black, + pick one colour brand of minimalism for as long as I can remember. In recent years, we’ve seen a surprising rise in maximalist decor and fashion, no doubt as a reaction to this dominating minimalist mindset. In 2023, I expect minimalism to take on some of maximalism’s charm, growing into a more colourful and vibrant form. “Quirked-up minimalism”, as I’ve coined it, is a style characterized by the use of simple compositions, with a focus on a few key elements or subjects. Think Wes Anderson, symmetry, oranges & blues, weird poses and interesting lines. Using bright and bold colors adds a dynamic and striking contrast to this simplicity, drawing the viewer’s eye to the focal point and emphasizing the subject in the image. This style is increasingly used for lifestyle and fashion photography, but it can also be used for landscape and portrait.
Colourful minimalism is the perfect balance of simplicity and vibrancy, and can be an excellent way for photographers to showcase their skills in composition and color theory. This trend is ideal for photographers looking to create visually impactful images that are easy on the eyes, while still maintaining a sense of elegance and sophistication. This style is well suited to modern devices and social media, as it makes the image stand out and easy to view on small screens.
As we’ve seen, the world of photography is constantly evolving, and there are always new trends and techniques to explore. From the resurgence of film photography and the 70s aesthetic, to the use of mirrors, reflections, smoke, and shadows, to stylized cinematic techniques and colorful minimalism. Each of these trends offers photographers new ways to express their creativity and push the boundaries of their art.
It’s important to remember, however, that trends are just that–trends. They are not set in stone and it’s up to you as a photographer to explore and decide which trends align with your style and vision. The most important thing is to keep experimenting and keep pushing yourself to try new things, whether it’s a new technique, a new genre, or a new piece of equipment. With an open mind and a willingness to take risks, the possibilities for your photography in the new year are endless.