Trends move fast in all areas of art and fashion, and photography is no exception. While there are some things that are timeless – like the rule of thirds in composition – there are other areas of the art which can be subject to movements. Particularly if you work in a field like portraiture or fashion photography, you will notice that there are trends going on in your sector. The trick to being the hot photographer of the moment is often to figure out what these trends are ahead of time, or even to come up with the next big one yourself. But if you want to get work as a photographer who knows how to always come up with something fresh and contemporary, then at least keeping up with the trends is essential.
When an industry is as vast as ours, it may not be easy to keep up with it – but the good news is that there are signs to look out for. Here’s how to spot the newest emerging trends, and make yourself THE go-to photographer for style in your area.
Read the hottest magazines
The magazines which are setting trends are the ones that you want to read. Particularly with fashion photography, there are certain publications which enjoy renown for being avant-garde, ahead of the curve and perhaps a little out of the box. Just as high street trends are often “safe” versions of the high street looks, so you might end up toning down the styles to suit your market better. Getting a subscription to one or two magazines that are key in your sector can help you see what is selling right now, and spot the coming trends as they form. One of the important things to consider here is that it is not only fashion that has its own magazine niche: music, sports, reportage, and portraiture also have representation in the magazine sector, to name but a few. If you can’t find physical copies, you may be able to download digital versions to read on a tablet or computer.
Layout is really important in magazines, and it might affect the way that the photographs are presented or taken. Consider this very carefully as it is one of the key areas of trends that can crop up!
Watch hashtags and superstars
Social media is a place for all of us to share images, and increasingly it is also becoming the place where trends are set. Pinterest and Instagram are places where you can see high quality photography being shared on a minute-by-minute basis. Pick up some key hashtags or phrases and keep an eye on them – what is being shared there most frequently? What gets the most likes or comments? This will show you what both professionals and audiences are enjoying the most. You can also pick up some great new ideas this way.
Once you have identified a key trend, start trying to look at it more in-depth. Think of words and phrases that describe it more closely. Monitor these pages as they update, and find out who the most influential photographers carrying these trends are. This may change as time goes on – the first photographer to champion a new style may not be the one who ends up being well-known for it!
Keep an eye on your competitors
Identify who your closest competitors are. These are people that are operating within your sector of the photographic industry, and perhaps in your local area as well. Find those who are successful, preferably even more successful than you are. Now, it’s time to become an internet stalker. Follow all of their social media pages, sign up to their newsletter, whatever it takes – just make sure that you are always among the first people to see their new work.
The aim here is not to copy them or beat yourself up about how much better their photographs are – it’s about spotting the trends that work in your area. Do they move with the trends, or always shoot in the same style? It could be that you are the only one around with an eye on the trends, which will certainly give you an advantage. If they do keep up with the trends, make sure that you see what they are doing and when. This will show you when the trends are hitting your area. Get in there around the same time, or first, and you can share in those trend-driven orders. Over time, you may get to a point where you are able to lift yourself above the competition by knowing what is going to work in your area and what won’t – and adopting it first.
Join art communities
When you are present in the world of art, you understand what is happening within that world a lot more clearly. Don’t make art on your own – connect with others and see what they are creating too. This could mean joining a workshop or hangout group in your local area, or it could mean joining a group on social media. Whatever works best for you is fine. There are forums where you can discuss photography trends as well as sites where you can browse galleries of work that is uploaded on a daily basis.
You can also become part of the community surrounding influential and popular photographers, particularly those that are harnessing the power of the social media generation to make their voices heard. This can mean following newsletters and pages, taking part in online discussion, viewing webinars, and so on. Whatever you do, you will find likeminded individuals who are making and sharing their photography, allowing you to see trends evolving and unfolding as they are picked up by artists like yourself. You can then also get feedback on your own work as you experiment with the latest styles.
Do you have any more tips for people who want to keep up with photography trends? Are you addicted to Instagram or obsessed with Pinterest? Let’s hear your take on trends in the comments.