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Top 3 Photography Trends to Expect in 2020

The culture of recording one’s life, from birth till death and from lifestyle to politics is everywhere. This is evident in the number of photos taken each year, with over 1 trillion photos taken each year since 2017- that means the last three years have produced over one third of the total photos ever taken! . As this photo-hungry culture becomes truly global, encompassing diverse people, new photography trends emerge and die, reflecting the ebb and flow of mankind’s collective attitudes, progress and failures.

In that spirit, we decided to pick overall themes as our 2020 photography trends, from the points of view of how (i.e. how will technology create new possibilities), what (i.e. what creative ideas and movements will influence photographers’ stylistic choices), and why (i.e. why will photographers choose the subjects they will in 2020).

Without further ado, here is our list of the top three photography trends for 2020:

  1. Photography in the age of Extended Reality- Panoramas, drones and cinemagraphs

AR and VR technologies are literally changing our ideas of reality of space, time, and social interaction. As the very definition of reality changes, so do the governing principles of what it means to faithfully capture reality via photography. A spectacular example of this is the photographic stills from 2019’s Lion King movie, which itself was not just created in photorealistic CGI, but also “filmed” in a 360 degree VR replica of Africa.

As a commercial activity 360 photography is set to explode. One type, called ‘Turntable photography’ is widely used to create interactive animations of products for eCommerce. Another type, called Stitched Panoramas creates realistic walkthroughs of 3D spaces and has applications in navigation, construction management, education, etc. The continued rise of eCommerce, new communication standards like 5G and emergence of cheap VR headsets like Google’s Cardboard are likely to drive demand for both types of 360 degree photography in 2020.

If panoramas break a photo’s “flatness” constraint, drone photography breaks the height barrier and literally adds a wondrous sense of depth to photos taken from a birds eye view. Aerial photos afford us never-seen-before views of our own lives, from sporting events and weddings to tourist attractions and top views of the cities in which we live. As governments standardize regulations and the drones themselves become cheaper and more sophisticated, we expect 2020 will be the year when the drone photography trend achieves new heights (haha).

drone photography


Figure 1: Drone photography offers totally new perspectives for creative and commercial photography. High quality drone photography will explode in 2020 as drones get cheaper. (Original photo by dronepicr. Reproduced under Creative Commons license)

Another cool technological innovation is the cinemagraph. This art form, sitting between a still photo and a video is characterized by a largely still frame with movement in just one or two spots. Brands like Nike have been experimenting with with cinemagraphs since 2017. We think they will grow steadily in 2020, featuring in both campaigns and eCommerce.

  1. The Changing Moods of Photography- Stylistic choices in 2020

2020 is likely to be the year when things get, as Amos Struck of Stockphotosecrets says, “Lively”. Marked by a return to bright color, interesting composition and social media-influenced stylization, 2020 will be the year when Candy Pastels become a thing of the past.

Vibrant is back. We know, we know, it never really went away. However, the demure, overly gentle look, attempting to focus on the softer side of nature is definitely a thing of the past.  The mood is now one of upbeat celebration of nature. Think brilliant sunrise orange, suave aquamarines and South Pacific Blues . Some photographers think Saffron pantone will appear prominently in many compositions, and that will be interesting to see . However, there is a definite tilt towards keeping things natural, so we expect to see soft filters used to mimic a natural lighting look in keeping with the “authentic” photography trend of the last few years .

Stylistic choices in 2020

Figure 2: Vibrant, yet natural colors with minimal retouching will dominate 2020’s color palette. (original photo called “Purple Skies” by T D Lucas. Reproduced from Flickr under Creative Commons license)

While color palettes become more vibrant, compositions will actually become more minimalist , with color and tonal contrast used to make subjects noticeable while using negative space effectively. This doesn’t mean silence. Rather it is confident, efficient communication in the “less is more” philosophy.

One really creative photography trend of the year will be images showing “real” subjects interacting with art. These image/art mashups range from the hilarious to the thought provoking, but a well-executed depicting of imagery with art never fails to attract attention.

Figure 3: Imagery with art interaction is thought provoking and apt for the era of blended realities. Original photograph by Julien Coquentin. Julien Coquentin’s website via [Modern Met]

Imagery with art interaction

  1. Subjects of Interest- Celebrating the individual and being environmental

The most posted and followed posts on social media spoke to us about the things that matter to all of us- individual feelings and wellbeing, the struggle for freedom and dignity, and living sustainably in harmony with nature.

2020 will see brands adopting multiple causes as part of their campaign strategy, whether it is apparel modeled by multi-ethnic people with “regular bodies”, or ads about mental health that describe harmony in the context of nature. Diversity will be celebrated. Photographically, this will translate into more images featuring close crops, most likely in vertical orientation to create strong connections with the models’ emotions. A diametrically opposite theme that will also grow, thanks to the celebration of diversity, is the faceless/headless shot. Expect to see more of these in 2020, as focus shifts to what people do, rather than what they look like. This will influence both advertising and in-use descriptor shots in eCommerce .

We also think photographers will create photos with more depth and focus, including using soft blurs in post-production to draw attention to the subjects, and simulate an immersion into the subjects’ lives, such as in the below photograph where the viewer is directly facing the actual subject, the dogs’ owner whose watchful anxiety is palpable:

Intense shots


Figure 4: Intense shots will rise in 2020, as photographers portray drama to draw in viewers.

The overarching sentiment of all these photography trends is authenticity. In 2020 authenticity will manifest itself not only via filters to simulate natural light, but also through minimally edited shots, “candid shot” photos which try to capture life’s emotion and dynamism, and relaxed, rather than stiff portraitures of events like weddings . Brands will use this sentiment to commission the “staged candid” shots, carefully choreographing scenes, models and products along with photographic techniques so the end result looks like a candid shot.


There they are- our picks for the top three photography trends in 2020. Were there any that surprised you? Did we leave out your favorite photography trends? Write to us, or leave a comment below!


Honorable Mentions

Though the below didn’t make our list of top three trends, we felt they were interesting enough to merit their own list. So here is a list of 5 emerging photography trends that may surprise you in 2020:

  • The re-emergence of film photography and related rise of Instagram film camera apps
  • Black & White Photography
  • The Selfie Style photo
  • The Retro Look
  • Expressionism


If you are looking for help on any of the above topics, from drone photo processing to consultation on choosing styles for your digital, printing or packaging enterprise, consider reaching out to Pikspire for a totally free consultation.


Pikspire is a post-processing specialist. We love all things image-processing, technology, photograpy, CGI, drones and motion graphics.