What Makes A Photography Trend Hang Around?


It's One Thing For A Trend To Emerge, It's Another For It To Hang Around

“Latest Photography Trends Of The Year”…they've been around longer than you think – in fact, trends have been with us for centuries and photographic fads since the dawn of the medium.

How we've followed them or heard about them has rapidly changed, especially since the boom of social media.

Of course, Some fads come and go, some become mainstream, others become niches (the lucky ones).

latest photography trends
Image by Negative Space

Before the internet, fads could only be driven by word of mouth or traditional media. Because of this, only a few would capture our attention and not very often.

Some of these trends would be driven by the marketing of big companies who had the budgets to create campaigns for new products. By using print media and placing reviews, they could create a photographic fashion.

This still goes on today but many more are now driven virally on the internet from bloggers and You-tubers on little or no budget. Today we are going to look at why a fad might come, go or become mainstream.

The Birth Of A Fad

Here's a really important fact: the truth is, most things that become fads have actually existed for a long time.

Then, one or two “internet heavyweights” will pick up on it and start to produce videos and blogs.

Alternatively, a piece of software or hardware is developed that enables the masses to create the technique easily, for example, HDR. This is actually a technique that has been around in one form or another since the days of film.

The idea however of merging two different negatives into one image was enough for most people to be put off by the idea. Fast-forward to the digital era and a series of technological leaps that culminated in the Merge to HDR mode in Photoshop CS2.

Nearly all fads are actually nothing new.
They just need the oxygen of publicity or a technology enabler to take hold.

So, How Does A Trend Get Any Momentum?

Again, very little has changes in the way fads take hold. The difference these days is that they can come and go much quicker.

The chief driving factors of a modern day photographic trend are “likes” and “shares”. We see the reaction to well know bloggers/vloggers when they post some new technique and we want to be a part of it.

The modern day photographic fad is not about impressing peers with your technique and creativity, it is about impressing non-photographers. They don’t care or want to know how an image was created, they are looking for increasingly striking images to share with their friends.

To get those images and that recognition, we photographers have to look for the trends and fads developing and try them for ourselves. Some classic examples of recent fads are

  • HDR,
  • Time-lapse,
  • Hyper-lapse,
  • Drone Photography&
  • Astrophotography.

Yes, these are all fads. That's not to say they are bad but they have all become prominent due to exposure by well know Internet bloggers and by the fact they can allow us to create very visually striking images or movies, relatively easily.

When The Trend Is No Longer Trendy

The end game of a fad is generally when the Internet becomes saturated with images that it produces. It will then generally head off in one of two directions.

  1. It will become toned down and mainstream,
  2. Or, it will simply vanish into obscurity.

A lot of this is driven by how useful the technique is in the real world. Drone and HDR photography are prime examples. HDR had a good few years of overly garish images saturating the Internet.

As many non-photographers were new to both the Internet and the striking visuals HDR produces, it had a long run.

However, as the likes and follows waned, photographers, started to use HDR for its original purpose, extending the dynamic range of our sensors to match our eyes.

Now many great images still use HDR but use it so subtly the average viewer may not even know.

Drone photography has and will follow a similar trend. The initial impact of stunning aerial visuals is beginning to wane and drone imagery is beginning to find itself a mainstream tool for photographers to get creative imagery.

aerial photography of concrete road near rock mountain
Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Other fads may well eventually disappear into the sunset. Often these are fads that are quite difficult to replicate for the average person on the street.

One example is the recent trend of shooting from the very top of high buildings. The demand for these images has caused people to take increasingly high risks in obtaining them.

For the average internet user, the visual impact of them is decreasing daily and the real life need for them is very low.


The fad will always be a part of out photographic lives. Some will come and go, some will stay and others will cost us a significant amount of money to buy into.

Either way for photographers, when a new fad comes along, the best thing to do is to ask yourself “will this have a future use?” If the answer is yes, then it may well be worth investing the time and money into it.

Otherwise, see it as a trend or a craze and just have a go! Let us know below, what you've got yourself caught up in recently?

  • Try not to fall prey to every-single-fad going, there will be many to come in the future so don't worry about missing out
  • Not all fads are created equal. Just because something becomes trendy, doesn't mean it'll flop.
    In fact, many popular photographic techniques such as HDR and Time-lapse photography have definitely stayed around!

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About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

One fad that didn’t get too popular but was enough that it got its own space in to a Sony Mirrorless Nex-6 camera — cinemagraphs, where only a portion of the image has motion. Cool thing but it’s difficult to do and is why it probably didn’t get too far.

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