Ring…ring….”Hello, Psychic Friends Hotline, this is Carol speaking…” OK, so maybe I can’t tell you if your dead grandmother really likes your new boyfriend or not but I do have some predictions for 2017 in terms of photography. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. We will see a rise in activism art. 2016 was an election year in the US and it was a particularly hard fought and bitter one. Regardless of which side you favored in the run up to the election, battle lines were drawn and discussions got heated. Although the actual voting is behind us now, the contests decided, and the time has come to move onto inauguration and the ushering in of a new government in the United States, I don’t anticipate the discussions to subside. Look for the art world to respond to a President Trump as it sees fit, this might take the form of new social documentary photography or just a general lashing out as things unfold. Even if you don’t live in the United States, I expect a new level of discourse to present itself in the image making universe. There are too many social issues coming to a boil, with groups like Black Lives Matter, immigration coming to the forefront, LBGQT rights and others. I expect the art world to respond to these times and the photography community will be on the front lines for some of these discussions. Watch for photography to have a voice as part of this new era of political discourse.
2. Two X moves to “real” cameras and grows wings. Year 2016 was probably the year of the double exposure. They were everywhere, with photographers shooting a lot of 2X work. If I didn’t love it so much I’d be almost sick of it already, but I anticipate the trend to continue into 2017. In part, the trend was pushed by the ease of the 2X in the iPhone app land (with apps like Diana and such) but I anticipate 2017 will see photographers porting these techniques back to their “real” cameras, if that hasn’t started already, not to mention more of it coming from the iPhone universe. I look for lots of double exposure style projects done in Photoshop shot with Canon/Nikon’s in 2017. It’s just bound to happen, as well as lot of double exposure work coming from the iPhone world.
3. iPhones/Camera phones will be taken more seriously. While I’m on the subject of iPhones and mobile related photography, I expect 2017 to see iPhone cameras be taken more seriously this year than ever before, in part due to new equipment but also due to a greater acceptance in the photography community. 2016 was a year we saw the iPhone 7 come out and lots of mobile phones are now sporting serious cameras, at least we’ve seen a jump in quality on the hardware side. While I still hear many photographers say “iPhone is just as good” and we’ve accepted that, at some point in the future, we’ll probably all be shooting nothing but what’s now considered mobile, there are still a lot of photographers shooting both the “real” camera as well as the mobile, hinting as a less than full acceptance. Let’s face it, clients are reluctant to pay us gobs of money for an iPhone shot and some photographers are shy about presenting an iPhone only proposal to clients. I anticipate we’ll move towards changing this in 2017. While I don’t anticipate full acceptance (we’ll never have that. Heck, I can point you to some people who have yet to accept film now comes in color format.) I expect a sort of “less shock” at seeing “real” photographers shooting mobile (or adding mobile into their kits.) 2016 saw its first Sports Illustrated cover shot with an iPhone, I expect 2017 will see more, much more, of these type of events, although it’s getting harder and harder to tell when they happen, given the increased in quality on the mobile photography front.
4. Rise in “do good” photography-photography as philanthropy. As a new generation of rising stars achieve a certain photographic success (good blog traffic, Instagram following, Facebook sales, etc.) look for them to start giving back to their communities. Let’s face it, many photographers, fall into one of several camps. We are either aging baby boomers, children of the 60’s, basically the grown up “love child” or millennials who long for something more than just the same sort of material crap their parents shoveled. Both of these camps have something in common-a desire to do more with their cameras and to really make a difference in the world. We’re already seeing philanthropy creep into the photographer’s world in small bits. The Santa Fe Workshops have travel workshops designed for the powerful combination of photography and philanthropy and I would expect this trend to continue well into 2017. It’s just a natural fit so I think we’ll see a lot more of it. Look for more workshops centered around this and some larger projects that will allow photographers to shoot for good, in the philanthropic sense, come 2017.
5. Better equipment in iPhone/iPad land. Look for better equipment to come into the iPhone universe as acceptance increases. When I say better equipment, I’m not just talking cameras here. No, look for the entire workflow to improve both hardware and software wise in 2017. Expect announcements like better backup devices, better transfer mechanisms, printers more able to “speak iPhone” and the like, possibly even some things that are not on our radar right now. There are currently many startups and kickstarter campaigns designed to make the mobile experience better and I expect some of these will gain a more broad acceptance in 2017.
6. Varied equipment-our gear is all over the map! The end of 2016 saw the photography community using gear that varied from mirrorless to better DSLRs, to a rise in digital medium format cameras, and even better iPhone cameras. Phew! In the old days, the lines were pretty much drawn around hardware, with medium format being used by fashion and fine art, photojournalists using the silent 35mm and a lot of black and white film, etc. These days, it’s anything goes in terms of equipment and we’ve blurred the lines between portrait, landscape, street, fine art, etc. Now we’re seeing more things like “Instagram photographer” or “500px photographer” or “Facebook photographer.” It’s more about our output than our equipment and our marketing is less centered around our equipment as well. Technology has not slowed down and we’re seeing a host of new gear married with a base of users completely unafraid to experiment. I expect this to continue in 2017.
7. Retro rules. Hinting at this before, baby boomers are retiring in record numbers and will continue to do so throughout 2017. This new crop of retired boomers carries with them a desire to learn new things and occupy their post employment days. Photography is especially popular since many aging boomers always wanted to do it and never found the time, not to mention equipment and learning barriers were ever present. Times have changed and now the aging population is quite capable of taking up new hobbies. Photography makes an excellent hobby for the grandparents and camera manufacturers have not failed to notice this. We’re seeing lots of retro style camera gear and I anticipate this trend to continue well into 2017. Also, look for classes geared towards the older population as well as workshops that are inclusive here.
8. Rise in Photographic Authority. Coupled with the aging boomer population and the younger folks shooting, we’re seeing a geographic spreading of the photographic community. Now, we’ve always been a traveling kind but, in the past, a photographer had to rely upon the gallery circuit in a place like New York City to make sales and really exist as a successful fine art photographer. More recently, we’ve seen the Internet starting to take over web sales, so much so that a photographer in say Peoria is now able to make a living relying on Internet sales and working out of Peoria alone. Gone are the days of having to travel to the big city to rely upon larger venues an internationally known arenas for sales. That doesn’t mean the big New York auction houses and galleries are going away, however, it just means things are changing. As this geographically spread community flexes its muscle, it will look for authoritative acceptance. I see places and events like the Armory Show, the Santa Fe Photography Workshops, Art Basel, the Venice Biennial, and others to play an increasing role and have a great say to the community. There will be a rise in significance in some of these traditional authorities on photography, and 2017 will find them having more of a say in the direct marketing since places like New York have a decreasing hold on the market. That photographer who is now able to grow a following in Peoria doesn’t need New York gallery to be successful but a successful photographer from Peoria will want to make a splash at something like an Armory Show in order boost validity of their work. I expect this to continue well into and past 2017.
9. Media. Look for media to hire in 2017. I expect media will hire photographers again in 2017 but it will be new voices, not the same old tired work. As media is facing limited budgets but we’re seeing things like eBooks rise, tablets are providing an outlet for media and will continue to do so in 2017. It’s a new market out there though, so look for fresh looks, new voices, new names, and the like to make a splash. We’re also seeing new crops of magazines show up and these are more geared towards the tablet space. As we see new rising stars in the media space, we’ll see new photographic voices coupled with that success.
10. Style will be king and rule the world. OK, maybe not the entire universe but we’re already seeing how photographers today have to rely more upon selling a style over selling a subject. 2017 will usher in more of this. Let’s face it, in 2017 there really isn’t a part of the globe that hasn’t been photographed already. In the old days, a photographer could be the first person to visit outer Mongolia and come back with prints in order to be successful. Nowadays, heck, there’s already a professional in outer Mongolia (I can hook you up if you’d like to meet her. Really, I can.) In order to make your mark, you can’t show us something new, no, you have to show us something you. The photographers who were the most successful in 2016 had a unique style, a visual tell if you will, a unique perspective on the world around them. Gone are the days of one place being the “it” location. Sure, you can travel to Iceland or Mongolia or, heck, even Peoria, but it will do you little good if you don’t show us your take on it. I expect this to continue in 2017 and even amplify. Look for more style kings to rule our collective roosts in 2017.
A couple of runners-up that didn’t quite make the list: drones and 3D printing. I expect them both to be hot in 2017 and photographers to make more use of them.
These are my predictions for our new year. I wish you the best for 2017 and, no matter what happens, I hope you make the most of it photographically. Oh, and, if you’re still curious about your recently passed grandmother and that boyfriend, well, sorry I really can’t help you out on that front.
Until next time…