Photography in Web Design: Trends for 2019

We live in a digital era where every single pixel matters. Easy access to Internet and social media adds a huge amount of digital content every day. Part of it becomes viral overnight.

People are changing visual trends and it becomes more and more difficult to keep up with them. Selfie (2013), Vape (2014), the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji (2015), Post-truth (2016),Youthquake (2017) and Toxic (2018) were declared word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in the last couple of years.

They all refer to the impact of the digital in our lives. And what an impact it has when Oxford Dictionaries declares an emoji the word of the year! People communicate less through words and more through images.

As old as professional photography may seem in this context, it is a powerful element in web design. It’s true that professional cameras are available to anyone, but it’s also true that professional photography needs more than a good camera.

To find out the trends for 2019 we follow two directions: the public’s vibe and the professional trends. We therefore combine stock libraries’ statistics and predictions with trends in professional photography. We also consider the big players in design’s world for a complete and complex perspective.

Nevertheless, in visual arts there is always more behind a trend than big market players and companies. There is an entire philosophy, strictly related to social issues, culture, beliefs and historical events. Today we are overwhelmed by technology. We have thousands of friends and we are lonelier than ever. We experience globalization, but we forget nature. We praise the ego and destroy spirituality. We have everything we need, but we are unfulfilled. In order to honor the great public keep in mind this identity search.

The Colors of Photography

Pantone Color Institute has chosen the color of the year for 2019. It’s living coral, a vibrant and warm color, meant to balance our lives. As Pantone says, “In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy.” There were immediate reactions to their announcement.

Pantone Color Institute
Pantone Color Institute

Adobe Stock created a partnership with Pantone and released an image library featuring 2019’s color of the year. Living coral will soon arrive in fashion, magazines, interior design and advertising as all Pantone’s previous choices did. Stock photographers keep up with the demand and deliver subtle or powerful representations of this trend. Shutterstock has already more than 30, 000 images featuring living coral, DepositPhotos more than 11, 000 images, Dreamstime more than 9, 500 images and Getty Images more than 4, 300 images. Quite a lot of living coral and the year has just begun.

While the color specialists choose 2019’s trends based on social issues and cultural trends, stock libraries choose different trends based on what people search. Shutterstock announces for 2019 an increased use of bright colors and nominees purple, blue and pink.

Granular Creatures Project by Local Preacher
Granular Creatures Project by Local Preacher

Shutterstock also considers animal prints and neon colors, and explains its decision based on people’s continuous search for entertainment, individualism, and playful design. Dreamstime and DepositPhotos bring into focus earth colors, bright green, and natural patterns. This time the influence comes from the popular photography trends. The relation between colors and photography is two directional. Photography itself influence color trends and appearances.

Photography and the Environment

In the last years we could see an active implication of photographers in the environmental crisis. More and more photography is used to raise awareness. This trend will continue in 2019 and it gets more powerful than ever. Photography was never just a tool for producing pretty images. Throughout history photography changed the way people see and understand wars, social and political issues, environmental issues, even beauty and style. Photography documented all the major events of the XXth century and continues to do it in the XXIst century. Starting with Ansel Adams, the first to use photography as a way of protecting nature, many photographers focused on long-term environmentally projects.

In My World
In My World – project aimed to humanize mental health

In 2019 you’ll see their work on climate change reflected in web design trends. It’s a direction already confirmed by stock libraries statistics. Awareness about environmental crisis increases the demand for images connected to reduce – reuse – recycle, consumerism, plastic free products, zero waste and organic products. It also influences the colors and the materials used in stock photography, as we saw from the statistics related to colors. People want clean and safe environments. You’ll see more white spaces, natural colors, green gardens, fresh water and organic clothes.

3rd Place (Wildlife). 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest
3rd Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Alison Langevad / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest

Animal prints are here to protect wildlife and not to show luxury fabrics as they used to. Many fashion companies ban the use of fur and exotic animal skin. European laws forbid animal testing for cosmetic purposes and many international brands ally. This supports an already growing trend. Again, photography is there to militate for animal rights. Pictures with animals melt hearts and make millions of people smile every day. It’s a trend that will continue in 2019. Our care for the environment includes pets and sympathy for wild animals. More and more ads feature animals behaving like people. Photography will not miss this chance.

Healthy Lifestyle Photography

People’s interest in environmental issues reflects in a healthy lifestyle and self-care. DepositPhoto announces an increased preference for alternative health and natural aspects of life. You’ll see more lifestyle photographers focusing on yoga, jogging and outdoor activities.

Apple Watch Campaign
Apple Watch Campaign

You’ll see more photographers focusing on gardening, on how to keep a tidy home and minimalism. Marie Kondo is a cultural phenomenon that we’ll register in photography and web design too. Yoga retreats, spa retreats, spiritual trips and detoxifying centers sustain this trend.

Stock libraries abound in minimalist images featuring a simple lifestyle. You’ll see cafes and bistros going for natural furniture, white walls and ceramic mugs. You’ll see photographs of idyllic balconies, with flowers and coffee tables. And you’ll see a lot of clean, empty space. Consumerism and sustainability will be among the concepts of 2019. Photography will deliver pictures of unconventional energy sources, green fields, virgin forests, empty beaches and the most natural lifestyle we saw until now.

Rainforest Foods
Rainforest Foods

In contrast with minimalism interiors, photographers are turning their lenses to nature and landscape photography. They are traveling the world looking for amazing natural landscapes. We are going back to nature to look for comfort and relief. Exotic destinations and dangerous adventures are on the list of 2019’s trends. We want to live like never before. There is a balance between a urban minimalist life and holistic experiences. Photographers need to be different than the mass. They need to be authentic and profound. Their journeys challenge us to discover nature as the philosophy of life.

TIME. January 29, 2018
Photo-illustration by Sean McCabe for TIME. January 29, 2018

The Face of Protest

Social protests, civil wars and riots make the front page of newspapers. We have a new kind of people rising. They are involved socially and politically, assertive and have a voice. Women’s March, #metoo, refugees, the Black Lives Matter, LGBT parades, environmental protests are just a few examples of events that changed the face of visual arts. For photojournalism and documentary photography this isn’t something new. But in 2019 these events get to popular culture. People understand the differences between them and accept them. We have different colors, shapes, religion, education and sexual orientation, and this is fine. Tolerance and human rights get us in the street, as individuals and as a group. We are more present in our lives and need to be involved in taking decisions for the future.

The era of supermodels is over. We see new faces, new individuals raising from the crowd. The face of protest becomes the new supermodel. As Dreamstime says “Get ready to illustrate the unruly individual calling out an uncertain future. Get ready to capture the expression and the message of activists, protesters, citizens. 2019 will be the people’s year.”

5S creative studio
5S creative studio

Remember the Good Times of Photography

After so many years of looking for new techniques, new effects and new themes, photography is rediscovering its ancestors. As a result, in 2019 you’ll see many photographers going back to candid photography. This trend is noticeable even in the most commercial oriented types of photography like fashion and lifestyle. They turn back to candid photography after a long time of using styling teams, image editors and strong effects. Black and white photography and its retro look wins over brands and advertising. Even more, photographers use old school technique, like film cameras, and reduce the post-processing at maximum. It’s another face of searching for identity and authenticity.

Captain Marvel Movie Page on Marvel Website
Captain Marvel Movie Page on Marvel Website

Other trends, as DepositPhotos announces, are flashbacks of the 80s and 90s. They reconstruct the style of the past decades hence the neon colors announced by Shutterstock. They also use old photographs in collages and montages. Disco fever is here in a modern way. 2019 seems to be a year of nostalgia in photography.

Classical art characters
image by Alexey Kondakov – Kyiv based artist who puts classical art characters in modern life

Another inspiration for photographers is classical art. Well, it always has been an inspiration, but this year you can see photographic reproduction of classical masterpieces and photographs looking like paintings. You can see bodies submerged in water to mimic watercolors. You can see the drama of Baroque in modern pictures. 2019 brings fine art photography, complex works and photographers with a solid art background. The same tendency for being different and acknowledged pushes professional photography to art. In a world flooded with digital images what can still make a difference? Apparently knowledge is the answer.

Watching the trends announced by stock libraries and seeing where photographers are heading this year make you feel the wave of awareness. People become aware of the environmental crisis, of protests, of loosing connection to nature. They want a good and happy life, but they start to look for happiness in other ways.

Clearing space and reducing consumption are just the beginning. They need to stay away from clutter in all the aspects of their life. They turn to yoga, spiritual experiences, the great outdoors and organic food. They need to see the color of the earth and to breathe fresh air. Big brands are adjusting their campaigns to a new public. It’s a public made from individuals, different and aware of their differences. It’s a tolerant and open-minded public, ready to stand up for human rights. It’s a public involved, active and alert.

Changes are already visible. Here are just a few examples: Lacoste changed the iconic crocodile logo to ten logos featuring endangered species; Stella Artois speaks about clean water deprivation in the ads played at Super Bowl. These are clear signals we are moving on to a more tolerant and aware world. As we’ve seen in stock libraries statistics and predictions for 2019, this year will make us wiser and more responsible. Like always, photography is a strong influencer and the voice of the people.

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