6 areas of photography we predict will trend in 2024

First published:
January 3, 2024
March 7, 2024

6 areas of photography we predict will trend in 2024

First published:
January 3, 2024
March 7, 2024

Cover photo by cottonbro studio

From capturing the aurora to keeping it real with (or without) AI, here's what we think is going to be big for photography in 2024.

These are our predictions from us here at Focus and Picfair, and we can’t definitively say all will come to fruition (!); however, we certainly think they will make an impact in one way or another, you might also notice a couple of recurring themes throughout. We hope these insights help you with your upcoming photography plans for this year. Read on, and perhaps you'll find some inspiration for your next project...

1 Aurora (Northern Lights) and night photography

According to meteorologists, it could be a bumper year for seeing the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) due to the position of the cycle of the sun, the aurora is much more likely to be seen, even in places in you wouldn't normally expect to see it. You can read more about the science behind the increased chance of seeing the aurora in this article in National Geographic (paywall), but this means that it could well be the optimal time for photographers to go out and capture spectacular aurora photos simply because there’s a much greater chance of seeing them.

You still might need to travel have a chance of seeing the aurora and getting the best results (read our guide on Aurora photography here), and considering everything mentioned above, we expect to be seeing far more aurora photography, and discussions about it, than usual this year. Aside from capturing the aurora, we predict in general that we'll be seeing far more night photography too–simply because more photographers will be out at night and building on their skills in this area.

2024 is set to be a fantastic year for a chance to witness (and photograph) the aurora. Photo by Visit Greenland

2 The early digital camera point-and-shoot aesthetic

Images captured with digital compact cameras from the late 90s to the early to mid-00s, when digital photography became more accessible, certainly have a distinctive aesthetic. This includes smaller dimensions, lower image quality compared to contemporary standards, clunkier pixel rendering, reduced detail in highlights and shadows, and fewer true-to-life colours.

Despite these limitations, this aesthetic holds a unique place in the history and evolution of photography. While some photographers may cringe at the thought of revisiting such image quality, others might see it as a new and experimental aspect of their artistic practice. Returning to this simplicity in photography amid the current landscape filled with advanced features can be a beautiful and nostalgic experience, especially for those who grew up witnessing digital cameras' evolution (think of early Facebook photo albums!).

We’re going out on a bit of a limb with this one, but if we’re looking at how other areas of photography have experienced a significant resurgence (notably film photography and retro styling) over the last few years, we think there’s some real potential here. From what we're seeing too, t’s already starting; see the new camera release that resembles early digital cameras, with their style, simplicity, and image aesthetic.

Photograph from early 2003, and a typical example of the early digital camera aesthetic. Photo by Philip Mowbray

3 At-home film scanning and digitising

This one comes from the resurgence in film photography's popularity, and that there's absolutely no sign of it slowing down either.

As film becomes increasingly popular among image makers of all skill levels, and particularly younger ones discovering film for the first time, we expect to see many more photographers scanning their film work independently rather than relying on a lab to do it for them, which will bring about a new wave of creativity. While a film scanner is an upfront investment with some cost involved, it’s far cheaper in the long run; see Digital Camera World’s rundown of some of the best film scanners you can currently purchase to use at home. Plus, scanning and working directly with the physical elements of film photography gives you, as a photographer, far more control and more ways of working with your images, and as mentioned, will add another element to the overall creative process when you’re working with film images and prints.

If you’re relatively new to film photography as a medium, you can read our beginner’s guide to get you started.

With the ever growing popularity of anything film photography related, we see the digitising of film negatives and prints at home becoming more mainstream, and another way that photographers can get creative
Editor's tip:

Embarking on the task of scanning your old images is a fantastic project for any photographer who has film negatives hiding away. You'll almost always discover some hidden treasures in your archive you'd previously overlooked. Read more on why it's a great idea to revisit your image archive.

4 Authentic (non-selfie!) travel photography, and from less-visited places

2023 saw a highly turbulent time for the global economy, with consumers reigning in their spending on non-essentials as inflationary pressures and interest rate rises hit household incomes worldwide. Despite these challenges, travel has been one spending category that remained resilient and continues to do so. The industry has witnessed substantial growth in the past few years since the end of COVID lockdowns. Subsequently, travel photography has been booming.

However, the popularity of travel has also had some negative knock-on effects, with undesirable over-tourism at some destinations, fostering resentment towards incoming travellers, including the annoyance of selfie-takers spoiling popular travel spots. From a photography perspective, it also means there’s been a growing glut of travel images that all look alike and from the same destinations, many of which are an unrealistic portrayal of what the place actually looks like. Just search in your social media feeds for images of well-known places, and you’ll see exactly what we are talking about!

"...there’s been a growing glut of travel images that all look alike and from the same destinations, many of which are an unrealistic portrayal of what the place actually looks like."

Given everything mentioned above. We're anticipating a shift in how photographers approach creating images when travelling. We expect a greater emphasis on authenticity and simplicity, far-less influencer inspired shots, and with photographers choosing to capture lesser-frequented and known destinations. This change will likely be well-received by image buyers too, considering that travel photography remains one of the most sought-after and published genres.

Throughout 2024 we're predicting that travel photography is going to be far more authentic and reflective of true experiences, in rejection to the superficial travel imagery we've become accustomed to seeing. Photo by Philip Mowbray.

5 Keeping it real (and avoiding AI as much as possible)

If you've been tuned into events over the past year, it's hard not to miss the growing influence of AI, poised to impact many aspects of our lives in the future. Photography is no exception, having seen significant strides in AI integration over the past year. Notably, some of the key enhancements in popular image-editing software like Lightroom are now AI-powered, such as sky enhancement and noise reduction–the latter once a significant challenge for photographers to overcome. There will be an ongoing expansion of AI-powered tools for photographers, ushering in new possibilities in conceptualising photography.

However, while advances in AI, particularly in areas such as editing have been generally welcomed, there’s been some significant pushback from within the photographer community over AI, who feel that it is taking the very thing away from what a photograph should be: a true-to-life reflection of the scene captured in front of you. This made headlines too, when in April 2023 a photographer won a top photography award with an AI image.

"...while advances in AI, particularly in areas such as editing have been generally welcomed, there’s been some significant pushback from within the photographer community"

While the impact of AI in photography isn't going to go away, we predict many photographers in 2024 will strive to go back to basics when it comes to capturing and editing images. The idea being that the images stay as realistic-looking and genuine as possible, and we see the enthusiasm to keep images at their purest happening not just with photographers, but also people who buy photography. Who will want to be confident that the image they buy is genuine to what was captured at the time.

Photo by Jeffrey Czum

6 A continued popularity of retro-styled photography, but with a focus on 70s-led aesthetics

A prominent and influential area of photography closely tied to film, is retro-inspired aesthetics. This overall trend began around 2010 when Instagram introduced retro-style filters for uploaded images. Since then, it has evolved into a dominant aesthetic in contemporary photography, encompassing various sub-genres, trends, and looks.

While retro-styled photography is not a recent phenomenon, a notable shift expected in 2024 is a heightened interest in visuals reminiscent of the 1970s. This aligns with the current prevalence of 70s-inspired earthy tones in design, interiors, and fashion, suggesting a growing fascination with the distinct aesthetic of that era. As we move forward, anticipate a resurgence of 1970s-inspired elements making their mark on the photography scene.

Plenty of 1970s aesthetics in this photo by Josh Withers
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