What does this mean for what we see?
When innovators and early adopters use images today, they are influenced by what’s happening in the world around them and don’t take long to gain momentum. In fact, it’s almost possible to watch trends roll out across social media in real-time, as influencers pick up fresh filters and ideas. Over the last 12 months, social media has given us plenty of strong examples of how swiftly innovator ideas can gain traction – from Blackout Tuesday to ways of encouraging new demographics to vote, to far less savoury concepts, such as Covid-denying. Specialists like Getty Images and Adobe can quickly see what is gaining pace image-wise through data gleaned from their extensive photo libraries and as a result, they are able to see early photographic trends and watch them grow, as well as being able to spot the next big thing. This particular twelve-month period has, for obvious reasons, been fairly unique in that while we’ve mostly been locked down, the socio-political landscape has been a veritable rollercoaster. And this will have an obvious and direct impact on what we’ll be seeing in the mainstream now and in the future.
Colour, compassion, comfort and nature
Cheerfully, Adobe’s trend spotters have homed in on an atmosphere of kindness, positivity, and hope. They’re seeing a visual move into bright, ‘mood-boosting’ colours, as well a swing towards gentler images that reflect the way we are slowly adjusting to the new way of living. Themes of home comforts, wellbeing-improving lifestyles and loved ones feature heavily. A desire to connect with nature continues to play an important role in how 2021 is portrayed, both in terms of the mental health benefits of being outdoors and in response to important issues of climate change.
Fascination for the future and inclusive expectations
Beyond our immediate circumstances, Getty Images have an eye on what’s next next, with their research showing a strong concern for the digital – in the adoption of exciting future technologies, as a means to stay connected and in how we plan to create balance in our usage of them. This might show itself as we see more images of traditional settings with technology built-in, or people engaging in classic pastimes, like painting or chess. Themes aside, they are pleased to see that audiences now absolutely expect images to be authentic and show life as it truly is – representing all ages, bodies and races and ethnicities.
Of course, the caveat here is always that all trends, by their very nature, are a moveable feast. Influenced as they are by an ever-changing world and the multitudes of media that shape our view of it. But in amongst that transience is something more solid. The images we choose to use today on our social media or in advertising will be the ones that tell the story of our time and shape the way it is seen and spoken about in years to come.