Photography Predictions for 2019

An image of a brightly lit holiday light display featuring a toy factory setup, in Austin, Texas at the Trail of Lights

It’s been a while since I’ve made any predictions: an entire year in fact. Welp, it’s time to make some yet again, seeing as the calendar has rolled around on us all. Yes, Snowflakes, 2019 is upon us and that means it’s time for some predictions. As is typical, I will not make specific predictions (so sorry but you will have to find your own Nikon whisperer) but will go out on a few limbs here and run with some general overall themes for 2019. Hang onto your hat, for here they come:

10. Retro is still popular. Retro will be popular. We probably won’t get a gosh darn digital Brownie from Kodak (I can ask yet again, however) but look for lots of “retro” styled cameras, with modern features, of course. Just, you know, old fashioned (looking) knobs and dials on the top, as it were.
9. Niche is still king. Yes, we’re all about the niche these days. Say you like shooting street? That’s great. It will get you nowhere. Now, let’s say you start shooting Street style in downtown Bucharest with a keen eye towards images that have stray cats in them. Score! Yes, we are all about the niche these days and, lately anyway, it seems like the more narrow the better. Look for this to continue into 2019. Niche, niche, niche, niche, niche. It’s all you ever love.
8. Foreign markets. This one has been building for a while but it’s finally manifested itself in full bloom. There are a lot of foreign markets for art and photography and I expect this to continue to expand well into 2019 and beyond. Corbis got purchased by that outfit in China so now one of the major stock players is, in fact, owned by a Chinese corporation. Photography is global and we are seeing a rise in the emerging markets both in terms of photographers and also in terms of markets. Places like Dubai and China are ripe for stock. It’s just happening all around the globe. Lots of foreign festivals, lots of foreign stock, lots of international agencies. We’ve gone global and I expect more of this in 2019.
7. Stock is swinging, licensing abounds. Speaking of stock and the current, well, markets, stock seems to be swinging again. I see people making sales. There is an explosion of licensing deals happening. Lots of people are jumping on this bandwagon, even amateurs and previously locked out mid career photographers are getting into the game. The rise of on-demand printing, coupled with the expanded market of the Internet and the proliferation of print is making a mini boom in the stock and licensing arenas. There is room for new blood here so look for that to happen in 2019 as well (we might see some new stock stars emerging from the rubble of the great recessions.)
6. Rise of the photographer. It’s not just the stock market that’s blooming, although that helps. We’re also seeing a rise in photography jobs being posted online. After the introduction of the digital camera, and the era when everybody thought they could go out and purchase one, rather than pay somebody, we’re seeing a return to the hired gun. It’s like the realization has collectively hit us: if you want quality, you have to pay for it and you get what you pay for, as they say. I’m seeing more freelance gigs turn into hired guns and lots more freelance work as people want to try before they buy. There are jobs out there to be had nowadays.
5. Inclusivity. It’s the new word for 2019 and it’s hit photography in a big way. Gone are the days of the older white male shooter. I’m seeing a lot of “women in photography” and “photographers of color,” not to mention lots of previously underrepresented people taking a place behind the lens. There have been movements like the 100 Heroines and the Latino photography community making great strides here and I expect this to continue and expand well into 2019. We are becoming more inclusive both in terms of subject matter and who is behind the lens.
4. Romania Rules. Everyone will go to Romania in 2019. I am seeing more and more images from Romania than ever before. With the crisis in Europe, the changes in places like London and Italy, focus has shifted towards Eastern Europe a bit and Romania seems to hit the sweet spot in terms of underdeveloped and under explored yet still having nice hotels and restaurants. Look for Romania to be a big travel destination in 2019.
3. Mobile Movements. Let’s face it, when has mobile not been advancing? This is a pretty safe bet here, nevertheless I anticipate mobile advances in 2019. We’re getting better on the mobile front, with some serious advances in the technology even if we aren’t upgrading our phones as often as we used to. I expect more advances here in 2019 and can’t wait to see what the year brings us in terms of mobile goodies.
2. More Activism. People are accepting of photographers, even photojournalists, who have a “voice.” Gone are the days when we were the objective witness in the room. The modern shooter can take sides and even be an activist. It’s becoming more acceptable, even downright expected. Photographers are going out with a vision, an attitude, a “voice” in society and they are bringing it home. I can still remember the days you were not allowed to Photoshop smoke into your images or make anybody look “darker” or the like. Now? Why, we’re putting horns on people with whom we do not agree. It’s a new world and one in which the photographer is viewed as an activist, a participant, not a spectator.
1. Mirrorless Mayhem, More and More Medium Format. If there’s one thing that defined 2018, it was the year of the mirrorless medium format camera and I expect this to continue, spill over really, into 2019. On the gear side of the house, manufacturers are making a lot of advances in the mirrorless front and I predict 2019 will be a year where the photography community will be able to absorb these changes. Look for some big shooters to start moving over to these new medium format mirrorless rigs and look for them to grow in acceptance. Sure, it might take a while for us all to get over there but we’re on our way, aren’t we? I predict 2019 will see more of this, lots more.

A runner up for you? Look for the return of the photo blog and the ‘Zine. I’m seeing more smaller publications getting dusted off as well as more folks returning to blogging and the like, especially as social media giants like Facebook stumble on their privacy issues. Expect this to continue well into 2019.

Those are my predictions for 2019, from the trenches, as it were. I do hope you enjoy your new year as much as I have been and happy shooting in 2019 to one and all.

Until next time…

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