In today’s smartphone-fueled world, photographs have become a key means not only of recording important memories, but also of communicating with friends and colleagues. Lifelong photography enthusiast, traveler, and entrepreneur Dave Highbloom highlights three trends that are pushing photography forward in 2020: candid imagery, vibrant color, and vertical aspect ratios. 

Never in history has the image formed such a cornerstone of the human experience as it does today. Over a trillion images were captured in 2018, a number that continues to grow exponentially as smartphones and internet push ever deeper into human societies around the world. Smartphones have done more than cause an explosion in the number of images being captured – they have changed the nature of photography itself, pushing the artform in new directions that reflect the medium through which most photographs are now consumed. 

Candid Imagery Has Never Been More Relevant

Candid images have been around since the 1920’s, when they were first used by director and documentary filmmaker Dziga Vertov. Vertov called his approach “taking life by surprise”, and applied the technique to motion pictures. In the hundred years since Vertov’s work, candid photography has become an evergreen aspect of photography – one that shows no signs of losing its magical appeal anytime soon. Authentic moments of daily life captured by a skilled photographer evoke powerful emotions and a sense of human connection in a way that staged or constructed imagery cannot. The rise of image-centered social media platforms like Instagram has brought candid imagery into our daily lives to such an extent that younger generations think nothing of capturing and sharing dozens of images every day. As a result, the visual characteristics of the candid picture – slightly shaky or out of focus, with slight imperfections and suboptimal lighting – has become the sought-after style even for carefully composed images like those used in major advertising campaigns. These small imperfections convey authenticity, which consumers increasingly value above visual perfection. 

Vibrant Colors Are Our Modern-Day Expressionism

In recent years, the color palettes used on fashion runways, in trendy mobile apps, and in leading advertisements have become increasingly bright, poppy, and diverse. Whereas muted, simple color schemes dominated a decade ago, the leading edge of visual media today is dominated by colors and color combinations that demand the viewer’s attention, and photography is no exception. The more dynamic and more brilliant the colors, the louder the voice with which a photograph speaks. If you want your images to stand out and make a lasting impact on the viewer, especially on social media and other channels that expose viewers to dozens of images in the span of a single minute, then bright colors are your answer.

Embracing the Vertical Perspective

With even the world’s most elite photographers increasingly embracing smartphones as a means of capturing images and with social media platforms increasingly dominating the consumption of imagery, vertically-oriented images have transformed from a photographic no-no to a must-have. Given that smartphone photography will continue to grow in popularity for the foreseeable future and that brands increasingly seeking authenticity in their connection with customers, smartphone images captured with a vertical aspect ratio will remain a potent trend in photography.