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Every artistic outlet, from paintings and sculptures to music and architecture, has its own trends so long as styles and genres go in and out of fashion. Photography is no exception to this, and in fact, new photo trends appear on a nearly yearly basis as new technology enables new realms of photographic art. Technology has had a particularly profound effect on the growth and development of these trends, as photography is dependent upon the advancement and availability of cameras and photo editing software. As such, you'll see that many trends are directly tied to recent improvements in technology.
Travel photography is one of the fastest growing photography trends of the 21st century, thanks to the proliferation of camera phones. Stark Alaskan oceanfronts and lush tropical islands and everything else in between have long been revered by humans for their beauty, but camera technology has only been able to effectively capture this beauty for a few decades. Recent models of Android and Apple smart phones, however, have lenses that rival many digital cameras, allowing millions of travelers to build a travel photography portfolio all around the world right from their phones, meaning the era of high quality travel photographs is still in full swing.
Street photography is a unique variety of humanist art with the general goal of capturing moments of the everyday life of real people all around the world. Realism and humanism have been around almost as long as cameras have, so it's not entirely true to refer to them as brand new photo trends, but much like with travel photography, the widespread availability of high quality cameras—especially on phones—has brought street photography to new heights.
Ultra High Definition Photography
The power of cameras to capture impressively high resolution photographs has improved greatly in the past few years, and ultra high definition photography is poised to be one of the biggest trends in 2018 and 2019. Not too long ago, the technology required to capture high resolution images was prohibitively expensive. Today, however, mid-range digital cameras and even newer camera phones can capture higher quality images than ever before. As high quality cameras become more widespread and accessible, the trend of high definition photography is sure to continue to grow.
Social Media Photography
You may have caught on by this point that smart phones continue to play a huge role in new photo trends. The most obvious of these trends is the multi-faceted genre of social media photography. Social media is a realm that encompasses a vast array of sub-trends, but it's important to recognize it on its own as a source of inspiration for many of the most widely spread visual trends of the past several years. Social media has also had its hand in encouraging a new era of photo editing, but more on that later.
"Art photography" is a vague identifier at best, but it's really the best way to describe the broad genre of photographs framed in order to convey a specific emotion or idea. Unlike some of the other visual trends on this list, which may be exclusive to a certain level of photographer, art photography is trending among everyone from high schoolers with iPhones to professionals with years of experience and several thousand dollars worth of equipment. As with any form of fine art, the success of an individual work, regardless of its pedigree, is qualitative and subjective.
Food photography is often slighted, but it is nonetheless one of the most widespread new photo trends of the 2010s. Again, this is largely thanks to the proliferation of smart phones and social media. It has become standard practice for foodies of all ages to snap a quick photo (or several) of their plates before every course of every meal. Love it or hate it, this trend is here to stay; and if you do love it, there are plenty of tips for taking food photos you need to know.
Portraits are an extremely broad genre of photography that can go in tandem with any number of other trends on this list. Portraits of strangers you encounter in the world can be considered street photography, while portraits of a model contorted in a certain way can easily be considered a form of fine art photography. Whatever other sub genres they may fall into, portraits continue to be one of the most enduring photography trends in 2018. Photographic self-portraits are in their own unique category that I'll be discussing later on in this article.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from food photography and selfies is astrophotography, which encompasses photos of all manners, from stars to planets to other celestial bodies in the night sky. Even the best camera phones right now aren't quite capable of truly capturing such images, reserving this trend to professionals and more dedicated hobbyists. Many also utilize photo editing software in unique ways in order to create composite images accentuating the sci-fi elements of these photographs. Experienced astrophotographers have also utilized social media in a different way than your average food photographer, using photo-based social media sites like Instagram to share their breathtaking photographs. For a taste of this impressive genre, check out some of the best astrophotographers on Instagram.
Pastels come into fashion on a pretty regular basis in all artistic venues, and they are currently enjoying great popularity among photographers, especially in advertisements and stock photography. The soft pinks and blues lend themselves quite easily to desserts like the icing on cookies and cupcakes, or the sprinkles on an ice cream sundae. For this reason, this trend is commonly referred to as "ice cream photography."
The only new photo trends more controversial than food photography on the modern trends list is the individual and group selfie. The selfie is directly tied to the popularity of the front-facing camera on practically every smart phone on the market today. The selfie is also intimately linked with just about every popular social media platform, especially Snapchat and Twitter. For all its negative associations with vanity and self-obsession, selfies have provided a unique and historically unprecedented platform for humans to express their individual identities. Modern selfies have been a steady trend for several years now, but they continue to evolve as camera phones and social media platforms introduce new filters and real-time photo editing software.