More than 115 years ago, when photography was in its infancy, an engineer named John Elfreth Watkins wrote an article for Ladies’ Home Journal with predictions for the coming century. He wrote of the extinction of cars, the erasure of the letters C, Q, and X from the English alphabet, and the total eradication of flies, but one of his more outlandish propositions was the following:
“Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.”
Of course, he was right about that one. As of this writing, there are more than 13 million photographs on Instagram tagged #China. The most recent one was taken 40 seconds ago.
With this in mind, we asked a group of Offset photographers to look just one year into the future and predict what’s coming in 2017.
1. Quality, considered photography will be appreciated
Image viewers are becoming increasingly visually literate, having been bombarded by so many photos. More than ever, quality, considered photography will be appreciated.
2. Continued authenticity in brand communications
I don’t predict any huge leaps in commercial photography trends in 2017. Instead we’ll see even more of what we’ve seen in recent years with regard to authenticity in brand communications. Commercial image trends follow the economy to a large extent. The current economic cycle is still in the early stages of a growth period, so many brands (though not all of course) communicate with images that the average earner can relate to.
“Real” people will be cast as much as trained/practiced models, and stylists and make-up artists will be busy making them look like they haven’t been styled or made-up. Locations and props will be attainable to the masses. Images that are textured, tactile and imperfect will be in demand.
Shooting video is definitely something that’s growing for photographers. Otherwise, I think we’ll see more aerial and first person perspectives. It’s easier and cheaper than ever to get a camera in the air and everybody loves a selfie, don’t they?
3. Video keeps growing
I think we’ll continue to see the growth of video, particularly the combination of stills and video shoots. Clients are demanding content that is more engaging and interactive every day. You see a lot of imagery out there from the first person perspective. It’s not just about capturing a scene; it’s about making the viewer feel like they are there and they are the one capturing that moment.
It’s quite voyeuristic too. I see lots of imagery with shallow foregrounds and selective focus subjects. If the perspective isn’t that you’re participating in the action, then at least it’s that you’re granted a sneak peak into it. That’s popular now, but it’s not to say that’s the only game out there. What’s great is that the industry is incredibly diverse. There’s a home for every style and perspective out there. It’s a matter of finding and cultivating where your vision fits.
4. Fine art photography film aesthetic
I think there will be a return to shooting film in a fine art style. As digital cameras start to become ubiquitous, I think there will be a return to the craft of shooting film.
5. More creative means of storytelling outside of the standard constructs of photojournalism
There’s a downward spiral in many ways across the industry, but I’ll focus on a positive: I like the direction that World Press Photo is going with their new contest. It opens up a new space for more creative means of storytelling outside of the standard constructs of photojournalism. We’re at critical mass with content in the industry; so many stories have been told over and over again in similar ways. To rise above the rest in the impact stories can bring, creating profound work will call for more unique methods of reaching an audience. Technology is changing rapidly, and visual storytelling needs to evolve with it.
6. Young photographers can still make their mark in the industry
I am not a tarot reader. I think there is still room for new photographers. Photography, since the rise in popularity of digital, has become very accessible. The younger generations are born with screens, surrounded by images. That cultural and visual environment for those young people will be what they became as photographers and artists. Then there is commercial photography, which is already dying because too many people are on the market.
7. A growing desire to slow down in a rapid, always plugged in digital landscape
I feel like the world is full of seeming contradictions. We are attached at the hip to our phones, a camera that is always with us. The internet is constantly available, and add social media to the mix, and it has created a world highly saturated with non-stop images. As a whole entity, it is reflection of our current and changing human condition. I think many of us from my generation participate in this, but we also impose photographic inconveniences on ourselves to slow down. It could be using a bulky camera that only works in certain conditions, or it could be shooting film. Anything to slow down and in many ways pay tribute to photographic history, while celebrating the current time we live in. It is a unique space to work in.
8. More great images…but the film preset “look” will fade away
My prediction is that new, great images continue to be produced at an astronomical rate. There’s never been so many photographers, and while there’s many in the photographic world that decry that fact, I personally embrace it. It pushes technique and artistry forward at a faster pace and pushes you to keep “upping” your game to be the best that you can be. That’s my “big” prediction.
My more specific prediction is that the film preset “look” (for digital images), which I feel was heavily embraced in the last two years, is going to slowly start going the way of selective colouring and white vignettes, and there’s going to be more of a focus on timeless images (made through strong technique and artistic vision) in 2017. I’ll probably be wrong on this one, but one can hope…
9. Travel photography will boom as people around the world seek the unexplored
Aaron Joel Santos
have a lot of optimism for 2017. I think photography across most disciplines is going strong, and in Southeast Asia, where I’m based, more attention is being paid to quality images, in both the editorial and commercial worlds. I predict a lot of travel assignments to more far-flung places. As the world gets smaller and people travel more and more, I think there will be a race to find the next undiscovered area. I think pieces in large cities won’t be as popular, but specialized, really tuned-in reporting on niche locales and off-the-grid areas will soar.
10. New technologies and platforms will continue to create new paths for creativity in photography
Gary S. Chapman
I think with every new technology and every new social platform, there comes an opportunity to experiment with photography. The industry has changed so rapidly, even in just a few years. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that technologies and burgeoning social platforms are carving out new paths for creativity in photography, and they will continue to drive that forward momentum. Print publication needs will continue to diminish, and social media advertising and story-telling will expand even further.
11. The role of photographers will lean more in the direction of visual and/or lighting consultants.
More and more people are shooting their own work with smaller budgets. I do still believe that creatively minded people are necessary; perhaps the role of photographers will lean more in the direction of visual and/or lighting consultants.