Get the Lowdown on Photography Trends for 2017

What are the biggest photography trends for 2017? Authenticity, simplicity, diversity…and plants. This year’s photo fads offer a mix of retro and state of the art, brilliant color and basic black and white. Take a look at our roundup of the latest and greatest photography trends and find some inspiration for your next photo shoot.


Genuine, spontaneous, unpolished, even awkward. This is the year when everyone drops the pretense and the posturing and we all just get real. There’s a hunger out there for authenticity. You can see it on social media, where features like Instagram Stories and Facebook Live are gaining popularity because they demand impromptu rather than labored-over posts. You can see it in advertising, where perfectly posed models are being replaced with diverse, relatable people. You can even see it on television, where sitcom studio sets and canned laughter are out and single-camera shooting and mockumentaries are in.

Authentic photos don’t require elaborate lighting or fancy camera equipment. In fact, they’re often best when taken with a smartphone, which allows for more freedom and mobility. When on the hunt for a truly authentic photo, look for ways to make the ordinary look extraordinary, the flawed look beautiful.


Cutting-edge technology like drones, virtual reality, and GoPros make it possible for viewers to feel like they’re right in the middle of the action. While these innovations are mostly being used for video, they’re influencing still photography as well. High overhead shots, first-person perspectives, and wide panoramas are popular ways to heighten the drama and transport the spectator to places they’ve never been.

Women power

Strong, capable, powerful women are nothing new. What is novel is that we’re seeing more images of women in nontraditional situations, debunking societal norms. These women aren’t there to be looked at—their M.O. is to make things happen. Whether on the basketball court or the Supreme Court, in the boardroom or the locker room, women are demanding to be seen as powerful players in arenas once reserved only for men.

Another shift in female photography is more diversity in the types of women we see. From soap manufacturers to clothing retailers, companies are finally realizing that women don’t want to constantly see images of what some tastemaker, art director, or executive deems beautiful. They want to see images of real women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages—women who are relatable and approachable.

Black and white

Black and white photography never goes out of style, but this year it seems to be even more prevalent than usual. If you’re looking to give your pics some added emotion or drama, the starkness and shadows of black and white can help. Black and white photos also tend to have a more classic, vintage feel about them, as if they’re always from another time.

We’ve got lots of black and white effects to add contrast and sophistication to your photos. You can also try adding a pop of color to make a single element really stand out.

Bold colors

Black and white is popular in 2017, but so is big, bold, beautiful color. Photographers are experimenting with colors in new ways and finding them in unexpected places. They’re using crazy color combinations, exaggerated colors, and vivid colors that practically vibrate with intensity.

Global travel

With more people traveling the world than ever before, and more of them posting their pics on social media, photographers are going off the beaten path looking for unique subject matter. Pictures of famous landmarks and landscapes are giving way to candid shots of locals living their lives.


Patterns are being used both as backgrounds and as the primary subject matter in photography this year. Whichever way you want to use them, adding patterns can bring artistry and interest to your photos. They can be found in nature, architecture, and even the most mundane places. Be ready to capture them wherever they are and use them as textures to communicate your message in a new way.

People and tech

Computers and handheld devices are ingrained in our daily lives, but it isn’t always easy to find new and interesting ways to represent these technologies. Photographers are rising to the challenge by going beyond the typical worker-in-front-of-computer or kid-on-smartphone shots.


Flash photography had definitely fallen out of fashion, but it’s recently experienced a resurgence. Rather than eschewing the flash’s obviousness and harshness, photographers are embracing it as a way to make their pics edgy and dramatic. A flash can produce strong shadows and lots of contrast, and is especially effective when coupled with black and white photography.


Pantone chose Greenery as the color of the year for 2017, saying it provides “the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment… Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

Not coincidentally, greenery of all types is showing up in magazines, advertisements, social media, and more. Interior design shots are full of ostrich ferns and cataractarum palms. Office desks are cluttered with cacti and succulents. Photo shoots in botanical gardens and greenhouses are becoming more popular. In our constant striving for the real and authentic, people are embracing nature in any form they can get it. If they can’t go to the Amazon rainforest or the rolling hills of Ireland, a nice fica will do.

90s retro

Millennials—the generation du jour—are children of the 90s. So marketers and fashion are embracing that retro esthetic, from high-waisted jeans to grunge to “Friends.” Photography is also catching on, using filters, lighting, and effects that make photos look like they were taken with a Polaroid.

Let your creativity run free with a PicMonkey membership.

Before joining the PicMonkey editorial team as a senior writer, Molly wrote about topics as varied as politics, finance, global health, and online dating. As a fiction writer, she’s published two books, both available on Amazon through totally non-sketchy retailers. A midwestern transplant who now calls Seattle home, Molly firmly believes that the Space Needle is way cooler than the Eiffel Tower.