Photography Trends to Watch in 2021

It has been an odd year for photography. The pandemic has prevented many photographers from carrying out their usual activities and pursuing their preferred subjects. Because of this, we expect photography trends in 2021 to reflect our new reality.


Silhouettes can work very effectively because they are open to interpretation. Two people can see the same silhouette and both perceive very different things.

By positioning a model or subject against the right background, it’s easy to create interesting silhouettes. These can either show a clear outline of your subject, or they can be used to create abstract shapes and patterns.

Silhouettes are popular because of their versatility and have been one of the most common recurring photography trends for many years.

Social distancing

Coronavirus has changed the way that numerous industries operate, and the photography industry is no different. Social distancing has forced photographers to rethink the way they work with models for the duration of 2020, and this trend is likely to continue well into the current year.

As well as affecting staged portrait photography, organic shots of people going about their daily lives will also depict social distancing and mask-wearing as the norm.

Photographers will have to rethink the way they work with their subjects and keep their distance from models. Businesses are still going to need shots of people and stock images for their websites and social media channels. These photos will now need to be appropriately socially distanced.

Numerous clothing businesses have added masks to their usual lines. Fashion photography is, therefore, likely to still include masks routinely.

We’ve even seen the likes of Tim Dunk shooting portraits sessions through FaceTime during lockdown in the UK!

Drone photography

Drones are becoming more capable and more affordable every day. As a result, drone photography is also becoming much more common. Drones can be used to capture scenes from any angle or position, opening up whole new worlds of possibility.

Drones can fly to places that a human photographer wouldn’t be able to reach and then position their cameras wherever they like. Drones are already widely used in several industries to provide overhead views and capture shots that would otherwise be nearly impossible to get.

As drones continue to become more affordable and now that users have the option to pilot them with a smartphone, it seems that an explosion in drone photography is inevitable.

Just make you sure you follow all your local laws and guidelines before taking off for your next photoshoot!

Outdoor photography

Throughout 2020, we were all much more limited in where we could go. For photographers, this created an interesting challenge. Some photographers adapted and switched to shooting everything indoors. Others ventured out as much as they could to capture the effects of our new restricted lifestyle first-hand.

But with vaccines starting to roll out, 2021 looks set to be a much more accommodating year in this respect. As restrictions lift, we expect many photographers to be rushing out to take advantage of their newfound freedom and capture the kinds of shots many have been longing to get throughout the lockdown period.

More filters

This is a trend given to us by social media. Photo filters are either a vital innovation or the death of photography as an art form, depending on who you ask.

Filters have existed for a long time, but it is only recently that they were added to just about every smartphone app that supported taking photos. Some people have found ways of using filters to great effectiveness, while others are mostly interested in their comedy value.

This debate predates smartphones; Photoshop has offered filters for many years now. There has always been a divide between those who view filters as an opportunity for creative experimentation and those who see them as being nothing more than a novelty.

Some filters, such as black and white or sepia filters, are generally uncontroversial and even professional photographers understand their place in the ecosystem. But the more outlandish filters popularised by social media have not been accepted in the same way.

Public art

Street art has always provided an opportunity for up-and-coming artists who don’t yet have a profile to develop their skills. Now that Covid-19 has forced the closure of art galleries and museums around the world, public spaces are even more important arenas for artists.

Public art provides photographers with some unmissable opportunities. Needless to say, the better the public art is, the better the photographers’ shots will be.

As well as photos of the artwork itself, many photographers aim to capture the artists alongside their work. If you happen to know the people involved in creating public art, this becomes much easier.

These are just some of the photography trends 2021 is likely to throw up. The world of photography is as unpredictable as the rest of the art world; new trends emerge and wither all the time. However, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, peoples’ behaviour is relatively predictable right now.

We can say with some certainty that all of the above trends will feature heavily in photography this year.

Paul Newberry Cert CII

Lead Client Adviser