Every year, photography blogs, trade publications and other interested parties make their predictions for the biggest trends driving the industry over the next 12 months. This year was no different—until, that is, a pandemic promptly overturned everything we thought we knew.

It would be hard to deny that the world hasn’t changed drastically since the turn of the new year. And because photography largely reflects the world in which we live, so too has the art of capturing that world. Even the types of images people and businesses are looking for will likely be very different from just months ago, as certain scenarios simply no longer resonate (e.g., “group nightclub stock photos”).

The good news is that some of these changes have, in our opinion, been long in coming, and are poised to shape the world of photography for the better. Here are some of the creative themes we’re seeing emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown (and that we hope are here to stay). 

  • Authenticity

Life as we knew it came to an abrupt halt when the coronavirus hit, as schools and businesses closed, events were canceled, and travel was restricted. Left with just the essentials, it was a moment for many to reflect on the things that matter most. 

This “stripping down” will likely translate into the realm of photography. With millions unemployed and struggling to balance the demands of life, people may become far less interested in—and tolerant of—glamourized versions of reality. Less makeup, editing and enhancing—and more telling it like it is—are few changes we predict will have staying power through today’s crisis and beyond. 

  • Inclusion

If 2020 had a tagline, the oft-repeated mantra, “we’re all in this together,” would be a likely contender. Long before the pandemic hit, we were already seeing a trend toward images that empower people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, ableness, sexual orientations, religions, body types and backgrounds. With the Black Lives Matter movement amplifying issues of systemic racism and highlighting the need for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of business and society, this will all but certainly be a mainstay of modern photography—albeit, one that is long overdue. 

  • Showing Depth of Emotion

Capturing emotion was challenging enough when a smile or a frown could give us at least an indication of how a person was feeling. Now, in the age of the facemask, portraying emotion—and the depth of it—has become that much more complex. Ironically, we are living through what is, for many, the biggest crisis of our lives, which means emotions are running higher than ever. 

Communicating the reality of the moment through images will be less of a trend and more of a photography pillar as we navigate and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. That means today’s photographers must find new, creative ways of capturing emotion, such as focusing on the eyes, emphasizing body language and using the setting to provide context. 

These last several months have, unquestionably, been challenging for photographers and visual artists of all disciplines. It is important to remember that while we are in the midst of a crisis, we are also in the midst of change—and change can be good. Join the YAG University community for more trends and resources to help you navigate the new photography normal, and visit Your Art Gallery to be part of our community of artists showcasing and selling their work online.