What are the key photographic trends for 2018?

Tue 1 Dec 2020

Whatever type of photography you are interested in, knowing what is currently selling well and keeping on top of current creative trends is important for long-term career success. One way of identifying photographic trends is to take note of the types of images all the major stock photography companies are selling. Here are this year’s trending themes from some of the world’s most influential platforms:



Although Alamy’s image trends report notes a distinct difference in style preferences between the UK and US markets (with the UK customer base preferring authentic-looking photographs with more natural qualities and the US customer base still leaning toward images with a more ‘staged’ appearance), both markets showed similar key trends. The top four categories include:

  • Travel – Always a popular theme, Alamy notes an equal split in both the UK and US market between home-front staycation images and jet-setting international destinations.
  • Lifestyle – In the UK, food photography and on-the-go content featuring healthy living, fitness, weight issues, and sport is popular, as are searches for family and relationship images. The US market also likes relationships and sport but has an additional preference for business lifestyle imagery.
  • Wildlife – Connecting to the natural world through wildlife imagery is a popular form of escapism for both US and UK markets. Alamy notes that UK customers are particularly fond of bird-watching imagery.
  • Graphics and patterns – Customers seeking graphics to use on websites or social media are turning to stock photography for images, with many choosing the sorts of bold graphic patterns that were popular in the 90s.


Examining its collection of stock photography as well as shows, galleries, and brand campaigns, Adobe put together a list of predictions for types of images that will be most in demand this year. Its six categories include:

  • Silence and solitude – In an increasingly fast-paced modern life, images that embrace quiet contemplation (think vast empty landscapes and people in quiet meditation) are a welcome relief.
  • The fluid self – With the idea of identity shifting (Adobe’s principal of creative services and visual trends notes that Facebook now has 71 different gender options), artists and photographers are exploring changing definitions of self.
  • Multilocalism – As people prioritise travel and experience over material possessions, images that focus on cultural experiences, global consciousness, and authentic scenes from business trips or personal travel journals are a growing trend.
  • Creative reality – Scenes that turn real life into a fantasy (using techniques such as infrared photography, double exposure, software manipulation, unexpected colours or unusual props) are popular in uncertain times in which people are looking for a creative escape.
  • History and memory – Adobe’s creative team members note that a growing group of artists and brands are drawing inspiration from classic art, connecting old-world techniques with newer technologies.
  • Touch and tactility – Images that express a connection (either through the subject in the photo engaging directly with the viewer or through objects in the image with very rich textures) are increasingly popular in a world where many people live their lives through computer screens rather than actual real-world interactions.


An internationally recognised postgraduate qualification can provide valuable insight into current trends and take your photography to the next stage in your career. For more information about pursuing an online Masters (MA) in Photography through Falmouth University’s Flexible Learning programme, visit our course page.


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