As a photographer who shoots mainly portraiture and products, I need to spend quite some time on Instagram to understand what's trending right now and what's the best way to engage my target audience. Trends in photo editing often don't match my personal aesthetic; for instance, I'm not into retro flash portraiture with harsh shadows. However, I'm still aware of various IG trends and how they can potentially influence my business.
This list of editing trends includes the most common approaches I've seen on various IG profiles that feature not only portraiture and products but also street photography or more experimental abstract shots. I'm sure you'll recognize some of these styles!
1. Retro Aesthetic
Retro aesthetic is achieved through techniques such as desaturation, adding grain, and manipulating colors to mimic the look of film photography. Popular retro filters used in this style include X-Pro II, Nashville, Hefe, etc.
The retro style gives photos a dreamy, washed-out look with muted colors. It can also add elements such as light leaks, vignetting, and textured borders to enhance the vintage feel. This style became popular on Instagram several years ago, around the same time when film photography was back in vogue.
To achieve a retro look on Instagram, you can use built-in filters or download a photo editing app specializing in retro editing. Personally, I use Lightroom as the starting point for a vintage look since Lr has a great list of beautiful retro presets I can easily customize.
Check out #vintageasthetic to stay tuned with the current vintage-look trends on IG.
2. Dark And Moody Look
The moody photo editing style creates a dramatic look by emphasizing dark tones and desaturating the colors. This style is often used to evoke mystery, sadness, or melancholy. It is particularly popular among younger generations. If you browse over #darkaesthetic on IG, you will find great examples of this editing approach.
To create a dark and moody look, photos are edited to have deep, rich blacks and desaturated colors. Shadows are emphasized, and highlights are reduced. Popular filters in this style include Perpetua, Inkwell, and Maven.
In addition to adjusting the tone and saturation, dark and moody photo editing often includes adding grain or noise, as well as vignetting to draw the viewer's focus to the center of the photo. Moody editing is commonly used in portraiture on Instagram, but you will also find some fantastic examples of dark and moody landscapes too.
3. AI-Powered Editing
Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly important role in photo editing on Instagram. AI algorithms can now analyze images and suggest improving them, including brightness, contrast, saturation, and color balance. Some of the most advanced AI photo editing tools can even create entire edits for you, taking into account the subject of the photo and the mood you are trying to convey.
One typical example of AI-powered photo editing is the use of filters that can apply a specific style to an image with just a few taps. These filters use neural networks to analyze images and apply pre-defined effects such as skin smoothing, color correction, and brightness adjustments.
Another example of AI-powered photo editing on Instagram is portrait mode, which uses algorithms to automatically detect and blur the background of an image, creating a shallow depth-of-field effect that puts the focus on the subject.
Lensa is the AI photo editing tool currently trending on Instagram, and it allows users to create AI-generated images from their own selfies. The results can be pretty creative and painterly!
4. Very Strict Minimalism
Minimalism is still a big trend in photo editing on Instagram, with many users opting for a clean and simple look for their images. This involves removing clutter, using a limited color palette, and focusing on the subject of the photo. Minimalist edits often use bright whites, neutral grays, and soft pastel colors to create a simple and elegant look. This trend is prevalent in travel and lifestyle photos, as well as product photography.
A great way to simplify images and make them even more minimal is to turn them into black and white. A monochrome look allows the focus to be on the subject while enhancing the lines within the image, which is perfect for minimalism.
5. Bold Colors
While minimalism and faded colors are popular trends on Instagram, many users also opt for bold and bright colors in their edits. This involves using vivid colors to create an eye-catching look and can be particularly effective for fashion, food, and product photos. Using bold colors is also a great way to make a statement and can be used to convey a specific mood or feeling.
Instagram has several built-in editing tools that you can use to adjust the colors in your photos, including a saturation slider and a vibrance slider. You can also use third-party photo editing apps that offer more advanced tools and filters, such as VSCO, Snapseed, and of course, Lightroom. When editing photos with bold colors, it's essential to be mindful of the color balance and to avoid over-saturating the colors, which can make an image look unrealistic.
Explore #colors on IG to see the most recent trends regarding this type of editing.
6. Storytelling With Consistent Color Schemes
This is one of my favorite IG trends – it can look gorgeous in editorial or street photography. Storytelling with consistent colors focuses on creating a visual narrative through a series of images united by a common color palette.
The use of a consistent color palette helps to create a neat look for your Instagram feed. To achieve a uniform color palette, you can use color grading and color correction. Every editing app has these options, and they are usually user-friendly.
When choosing a color palette, it's important to consider the mood and atmosphere you want to convey in your images. For example, a cool, blue-toned color palette may be used to evoke feelings of calm and serenity, while a warm, orange-toned palette may be used to convey a sense of warmth and energy.
In addition to using a consistent color palette, storytelling photography often involves using compositional elements, such as leading lines, to guide the viewer's eye and build a narrative.
Check out #storytellingphotography on IG to see some great examples.
Instagram photo editing trends change over time, but there are also consistent approaches that seem to be here to stay, such as minimalism and nostalgic retro style. I am curious if something new will come up in 2023 and change the direction of these styles – perhaps something related to AI photo editing, which is getting more and more popular and hence mainstream.
Please share with us your thoughts on IG photo editing trends in the comment section below!
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