Photo trends on a video platform seems counterintuitive—but when it comes to TikTok, here’s how photographers are finding creative ways to share their work.
By now, you should be somewhat familiar with this Gen Z-beloved network; this immensely popular video app allows users to create and share fun, short videos. But did you know it’s also the perfect platform for photography? You may think the platform is only about dance videos, lip-synching, and challenges, but dive a little deeper into TikTok and you’ll find thriving communities built around specific niches and fields. This is why, as photographers, you should be paying attention to photography trends on TikTok.
Since TikTok is a platform driven by trends, here’s the latest formats we’re seeing on TikTok—and how you can do them too.
The Basics of TikTok
- The Algorithm: TikTok’s mysterious algorithm is yet to be explained. But, know this: the app tends to group together related videos then recommend those to users who it thinks will enjoy them. This is helpful when it comes to exploring niche interests—like photography.
- Collaborations: Creativity between creators is integral to the TikTok experience. You’ll often hear the term “duet” thrown around; it’s been described as a remix to a song and involves adding onto another creator’s work.
- Transitions and sounds: Videos that use these features are more likely to be discovered in the TikTok app.
- Trending songs: TikTok videos lean heavily on the use of specific songs (which is why they tend to go viral on the app). Using a trending song is one way TikTok creators can hack the algorithm to get their content seen.
- Hashtags: TikTok heavily relies on hashtags to serve up videos. By clicking on hashtags, you can easily discover what people are using to get to the “For You” page (aka the homepage of the app).
- Challenges: TikTok challenges take many forms. The key is that they are catchy, easily replicated, and compelling enough to recreate.
- Memes: TikTok is an ever-rotating source of memes. Understanding memes on TikTok will give you a better idea of how to tap into the culture of the app.
These are just a few of the suggestions to follow when it comes to creating content on TikTok. For even more tips and tricks on getting started on TikTok as a photographer, check out this article. For photographers, creating content on TikTok means following the latest trends and adapting them to your creative work. Here we explore seven of the top trends for photography on TikTok and how you can use them to market your photography business.
TikTok Photography Trend #1: Tutorials
One of the most surprising aspects of TikTok is how effective it is as a learning tool. The hashtag #LearnOnTikTok is a treasure trove of edu-tainment. These type of videos alone have racked up 9.4 billion views.
What do tutorials look like for TikTokers?
As photographers, you can use TikTok’s short-form format to impart valuable advice, tips and tricks, and resources. Unlike YouTube and IGTV, which favors the talking-head format, TikTok creators are limited to a minute, allowing for a more visually-oriented lesson. What might seem boring or tedious to you is interesting to someone else!
Bonnie Rodriguez, a Miami-based photographer, teaches posing hacks (often by forming a triangle using your body). Her poses help photographers capture subjects in a more flattering and artful way.
A Simple Formula for Creating a TikTok Tutorial
- Introduce Your Video: Caption your video using text that offers context into what you’re sharing.
- Before & Afters: Whether you introduce your final shot at the beginning of the video, end with it, or do both, your viewers want to see how you got from point A to point B.
- Behind the Scenes: Show multiple angles, your camera set-up, and other tips and tricks that go into creating your final stunning shot.
- The Editing Process: Give your viewers an inside look at how you edit and process your images. You can caption this section with text or offer concise narration while you film your computer or screen record. Make sure to speed up your video so you can quickly capture your entire workflow.
TikTok Photography Trend #2: Photography Hacks
Building on the idea of tutorials, we’re seeing TikTok creators share photography hacks—usually DIY ways to achieve high-concept and creative photography effects. This is often geared more towards maximizing the camera on your smartphone, but it can apply to DSLRs too.
If you’re a pro photographer and you’re thinking, no thanks to these photo hacks, you might just be surprised at the lessons they impart. This hack is all about leveraging everyday objects and ingenuity—two things that could help you level up your next shoot.
What does a photography hack on TikTok look like?
Let’s take the spotlight hack as an example. This trend uses an empty toilet paper roll to create a spotlight on your subject. Here’s a TikTok that explains how to achieve this effect:
TikTok Photography Trend #3: #ForThePhoto/ Behind the Scenes
Unlike other apps where you see the final image but rarely the creative process behind it, TikTok is all about pulling back the curtain. Sharing a simple still image is no longer what drives engagement. Instead, what people want to see are fun videos about the shooting process.
In this case, there’s an entire hashtag built around this: #ForThePhoto. Here viewers can see and learn first-hand how a photographer achieves an image. And for creators, showing your behind-the-scenes process can help to build trust, transparency, and credibility.
TikTok Photography Trend #4: Sharing Secret Spots (On Location)
On TikTok, photographers will often create videos showing life on set or location. Like Instagram Stories, these real-time moments highlight the working life of a photographer—which serves as a great inspiration for budding professional photographers. Plus, they’ll often break down how and where to access these locations. For this trend, you’ll want to share your favorite locations, then follow that with images you’ve taken from each location.
TikTok Photography Trend #5: (Photo) Challenges
We couldn’t share a TikTok article without mentioning challenges. Here are some of the challenges we’re seeing pop up in the photography world lately. (Keep in mind, by the time you’re reading this article, they’ll have likely already changed!)
TikTok Challenge: The Star(light)
The concept is simple. Cut shapes into a cardboard or piece of paper and use it to manipulate light in your photography. Genius!
TikTok Challenge: The Puddle
This challenge involves faking reflections using water and glass on a previously shot image.
TikTok Challenge: The Frames
This incredible photo trick involves taking a set of empty frames to a location and playing with perspective to give the impression of a surreal art exhibit.
TikTok Challenge: The Vogue Challenge
The Vogue Challenge involves taking a Vogue-esque image and sharing what the cover would look like with the font and logo from the famous fashion magazine. Anyone can be a cover star with this one.
TikTok Photography Trend #6: Slideshows
This one is also pretty simple. To create a photography slideshow, just pick your favorite images to share, choose a song, play with different transitions, and use bright, bold text to caption your slides. That’s it! A simple, but fun, way to show off your work.
TikTok Photography Trend #7: Memes and Comedy
When it comes to TikTok photographers, you’ll find videos that poke fun at the client-photographer relationship, the editing process, and other industry-specific humor. Like most videos on TikTok, these are fun, silly, relatable, and best of all, easy to do! This is a chance to show off your personality alongside your humor and work as a photographer.
Top image by Jacob Lund.
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