Top 10 Photography Trends of 2024: Don’t Get Left Behind

Stay on top of trends with this useful breakdown of some of the most important photography trends this year.

Matt By Matt
18 Min Read

As a professional photographer, I closely monitor photography trends within the industry, so I’ve compiled a list of what I think will become the most popular in 2024.

As an art form and a technology, photography continues to adapt to our time’s cultural and technological shifts.

This year, artificial intelligence is very much at the forefront, revolutionising how we capture, process, and think about images. Alongside AI, a diversity of styles and niches is beginning to emerge, reflecting the dynamic nature of the field.

The emphasis on photographic trends in 2024 isn’t just about the techniques or equipment; it’s also about the thematic elements and creative approaches shaping our visual narratives.

From the renewed interest in vibrant colours to the use of nostalgic filters and lenses, these trends are not just influencing individual photographers but are also significantly impacting visual design across digital and print media.

The convergence of past aesthetics and retro styles with contemporary digital capabilities creates a unique space for photographers to explore and redefine what capturing a moment in time means.

There’s a growing fascination with lesser-appreciated seasons and natural subjects in photography. Once considered off-peak periods for outdoor photography, times like winter present unique opportunities to capture nature’s raw, stark beauty.

The ‘fabulous flora’ trend encourages photographers to find beauty in the skeletal forms of plants, often overlooked during the colder months, showcasing the resilience and different dimensions of the natural world.

These shifts reflect changing tastes, an increasing awareness of the planet’s rhythms, and a desire to document them in new and meaningful ways.

1. Photographers are Transforming into Content Creators

My photography mentor, Steve Carty, a pro photographer with over 30 years experience, shares his thoughts on photographers needing to become content creators.

In the ever-evolving visual media landscape, my role as a portrait, headshot and night photographer encompasses a broad spectrum of skills beyond traditional photography. Today, a significant aspect of my profession involves content creation—an inclusive term covering everything from images to videos, including writing and digital art.

The transition from being a photographer to a content creator has become necessary to remain relevant and profitable in the digital age. With the barriers to entry almost non-existent, nearly anyone with a smartphone can generate content. This democratisation of content creation has forced me and many of my peers to adapt.

The new photographer isn’t a photographer at all. We’re content creators. We’re idea generators. We are storytellers.

Steve Carty

The Shift in Skill Sets

It wasn’t that long ago that you were set if you were good at setting up a shot, knowing where the light should come from, and making sure the picture wasn’t too bright or too dark.

 

But now, things have radically changed. We need to make cool pictures and videos and grab people’s attention quickly. It’s also important to know how to share our work on apps like Instagram, TikTok, Vero, and YouTube to ensure people want to buy it.

Why It’s Good to Learn More – When I learn how to make different kinds of things, not just take photos, more people notice my work and I can find new customers. Since not many people just want a regular photo taken, I can do other fun jobs with my camera.

Making Money in New Ways – It’s harder to find jobs by taking only photos, but by creating different kinds of content, I can find many new ways to earn money.

Starting Simple – You don’t need much to start making content—just a phone and a special light can do the trick. But it’s really important to understand how to make things that people on the internet will like.

Keeping Up with What’s New—When big companies want to showcase their products on social media, they don’t want an old-fashioned ad. They want something fresh and fun, and I need to know how to give them that. Being on top of trends is key.

Even though learning all this new stuff is exciting, it can be a lot to keep up with. Sometimes, trying to stay on top of what the internet likes can be stressful. Making lots of quick, fun videos can be tiring after a while.

But I’m not just trying to keep up; I’m looking forward to all the new things I can do with my camera. I want to be ready for the future and all the new ways I can create cool stuff for everyone to enjoy.

As we journey through 2024, it’s evident that our community’s approach to photography is rapidly advancing.

We’re witnessing a fusion of technology and creativity that is leading to exciting horizons for both professional and hobbyist photographers.

1. AI and Photography

We’ve all seen how Artificial Intelligence reshapes photography with computational photography at its core. The upcoming year seems poised to integrate AI even further into image-taking, enhancing the quality and creativity of photographs. Tools for automatic editing and composition powered by AI are democratising high-quality visuals.

Industry-standard tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Capture One have AI embedded to enhance workflows and speed up deliveries.

2. High Drama Photos

High-drama photographs are consistently trending on platforms like Instagram, captivating audiences with their eye-catching atmosphere. These images, often transcending reality through editing, are marked by their boldness and striking appeal.

Characteristics of high-drama photography include surreal scenes that challenge belief, vivid and unconventional colour schemes, and extreme close-ups that capture intricate details.

They often showcase the splendour of nature, like vibrant skies, and use high contrast techniques, like vivid colours against monochrome backgrounds. Additional dramatic effects include lighting that creates mood and elements magnified to an almost mythical scale.

 

This photography style leverages drama to transform ordinary scenes into extraordinary spectacles, emphasising aspects that capture and hold the viewer’s attention.

3. Immersive, 3D and 360-degree Photography

Virtual reality and augmented reality are emerging, making immersive forms of photography, like 360-degree photography, increasingly prevalent. These offer a thoroughly engaging visual experience, from virtual tours to interactive real estate explorations.

4. Greater Focus on Authenticity and Storytelling

In 2024, there’s a tangible shift towards capturing authentic moments. The focus is on honesty in imagery—seeking out true expressions and unposed narratives. Photography gear is also evolving to facilitate this, emphasising tools that accentuate natural lighting and spontaneous captures.

5. Analog and Vintage Photography Renaissance

I’m excited to see a renaissance in vintage and analogue photography. The forthcoming year promises a renewed love for film’s tactile and nostalgic essence. The distinct, organic quality of analogue images is becoming a sought-after aesthetic again.

6. Ethical, Conscious, Sustainability and Activism-Focused Photography

With a growing consciousness around global issues, ethical considerations in photography are becoming paramount. This trend influences what we capture and how we approach the narrative behind our images, ensuring respect for our subjects and the environment.

7. Drone and Aerial Photography

Drone photography is soaring to new heights, with technological advancements making it more attainable and innovative. Expect to see more impressive stabilisation and image quality, making this an exciting branch of photography to explore, regardless of budget.

Each of these trends points to a diverse and evolving landscape in photography for 2024. From integrating AI and ethical practices to embracing old-school analogue techniques, it’s clear that this year is set to be rich with innovation and creativity.

8. Environmental and Climate Change Photography

With the rising focus of the world and its people on the environment and climate change, photography has become an important tool for documenting impact and inspiring action.

Unsurprisingly, a new generation of photographers is getting increasing focus through projects that show environmental issues, the plight of animal and marine life, and the stark realities of climate change.

In the process, these forms of visual communication inform or educate about these points but also draw emotional responses from viewers that can lead to different types of real-world action. In so doing, they capture the beauty in nature, along with its challenges, therefore contributing to a vital global conversation.

9. Hybrid Photography-Video Formats

The line between still photography and videography keeps blurring every day. With the size of audience numbers on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube ever increasing, there is more need for such content that stands out.

Content that has the clarity of capturing an event similar to that of photography but with the story and time-based delivery of videography.

Cinemagraphs and short loops are entirely new creative ways to engage the audience. Such hybrid formats inspire a photographer to think dynamically and make up stories that can move in one or a few frames.

10. Infrared and Ultraviolet Photography

Photographers are peeling back another layer of reality by reaching further into the infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) worlds. They are now finding parts of the world that are invisible to the naked eye, from secret patterns in nature to unseen environmental damages.

IR-rendered landscapes and portraits emit a dreamy, surreal quality, while UV photography is both creative and scientific for revealing details that have otherwise remained hidden. But the trend is more than just an attraction to novelty in the unseen—it’s about extending how we see and, in some respects, understand our world.

The Future of Photography is… exciting!

The photography landscape is shifting with advances in technology and evolving aesthetic preferences. Along with this comes decreased attention spans. Certain trends will become more apparent, reshaping how photographers capture images and audiences engage with them.

Camera Innovation

Camera technology continues to advance, although at a slower pace compared to AI. We’re seeing more sophisticated mirrorless cameras which offer the benefit of a lighter, more compact design alongside the image quality traditionally associated only with DSLRs. Additionally, smartphone cameras are increasingly capable, empowering a wave of photographers to shoot professional-quality photos with just their phones.

  • Authenticity: There’s a growing demand for photographs that convey genuine emotion and candid moments.
  • Sustainability: Subjects and practices that are environmentally friendly are becoming more important.
  • Nostalgia: Vintage and film styles are returning, even in digital formats, as photographers seek a warmer, more personal touch.

Post-Processing – the AI Revolution

The tools we use for editing are becoming more intelligent and intuitive. AI-powered software now saves time – creating complex edits that would have required extensive manual effort just a few years ago.

The latest developments in AI post-processing for photography focus on enhancing efficiency, image quality, and creative flexibility. Innovations like Aftershoot Edits and Topaz Photo AI have significantly impacted how photographers approach post-processing tasks.

Aftershoot Edits, launched in May 2023, offers a solution that learns from your past edits in Lightroom and applies these insights to adjust unedited shoots automatically. This AI-driven tool can handle adjustments in exposure, white balance, details, and more, promising to streamline the post-production workflow significantly. It supports local adjustments and tone curves, enhancing the overall editing process without needing an internet connection. This approach allows photographers to maintain their unique editing style while benefiting from AI’s speed and efficiency​​.

Topaz Photo AI combines the capabilities of DeNoise, Sharpen, and Gigapixel AI into a single tool, focusing on automatically detecting and fixing common image quality issues such as blur, noise, and pixelation. This AI-powered enhancer minimizes the need for manual editing by fine-tuning the settings to achieve optimal results. It’s particularly beneficial for photographers working with images taken in low light or those requiring significant quality enhancements​​.

Overall, these AI tools transform post-processing by automating tedious tasks, ensuring consistency across edits, and allowing photographers to exceed client expectations with high-quality images. While AI enhances efficiency and creative possibilities, it’s essential to view these tools as assistants in the artistic process, complementing rather than replacing the photographer’s skill and vision.

Through these insights, one thing is clear: the world of photography is as dynamic as ever. Whether it’s the rise of AI in editing or the push towards more natural and unfiltered imagery, I’m excited to see how these trends continue to develop in 2024 and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, I’ll address some of the pressing questions surrounding the trends in photography as it stands in 2024, pinpointing emerging techniques, technology progressions, and the evolution of various photography genres.

What are the leading portrait photography techniques in 2024?

Portrait photography in 2024 has seen the rise of environmental portraiture, combining subjects with their surroundings to tell a richer story. Natural lighting techniques have also become increasingly prevalent to bring softness and authenticity to the subject’s features.

Which advancements in photography technology are shaping the industry this year?

This year, advancements such as AI-integrated cameras that offer advanced autofocusing are shaping the industry. Mirrorless cameras continue to dominate, with many offering improvements in image processing and higher resolution sensors that enable exceptional detail.

How has fashion photography evolved to reflect 2024 styles and aesthetics?

Fashion photography has adapted to mirror the bold and authentic styles of 2024, moving away from overly airbrushed to more natural and raw representations. There’s a focus on showcasing diverse body types and celebrating uniqueness, which has ushered in a wave of inclusivity.

What styles are dominating food photography in professional and social media settings currently?

Current food photography reflects a rustic and authentic style, strongly emphasising storytelling and the farm-to-table narrative. Images are styled to appear more organic and approachable, often using natural light to accentuate textures and colours.

How will the social media landscape influence photographic styles and user engagement in 2024?

The social media landscape in 2024 is driving a trend for candid photography that resonates with viewers seeking authenticity. Visual storytelling through images is key in engaging followers, with platforms favouring high-quality content that reflects a more relatable and unfiltered view of life.

What photography niches are experiencing the highest demand and growth this year?

Photography niches such as drone and aerial photography have seen substantial growth, especially in the realms of landscape and real estate marketing. Additionally, with the rise in environmental awareness, sustainable and conservation-focused photography is also experiencing a surge in both demand and impact.

Are Content Creators Replacing Photographers?

The landscape of visual content creation is evolving, but professional photographers remain irreplaceable for their expertise in technical skills and the ability to capture a narrative within a single moment. Content creators and photographers often collaborate, leveraging each other’s strengths to produce compelling visual content. As discussed earlier in this article, photographers must become content creators to survive.

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By Matt
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I'm the Creative Director at Bona Parle. I'm also a freelance portrait and headshot photographer, award-winning filmmaker, film Colourist and a multi-award winning LGBTQ+ human rights campaigner. For part of my week I lead a successful UK-based charity that brings families closer to together.