Top 5 Portrait Photography trends 2021

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We can all agree that a lot has happened between 2020 and 2021. In lieu of the global pandemic, we have seen so many changes within fashion, photography and the arts. For photographers, there have been various challenges which have made it difficult to produce the images that we want to make. Photography is a practice that is pretty collaborative, meaning we often have to rely on stylists, make up artists, models and film producers to work on a big project. Personally, I have really missed the cooperative aspect of photography and I am so grateful that we are finally able to socialise!

Having said that, there are a few cool trends that have emerged during COVID 19 and it has been so exciting to think up new & creative ways to photograph.

1) Family Photographs & Selfies

One of the things I have truly loved about this year is spending time with my two little girls. Given that my choice of models have dwindled during lockdown, I’ve had to turn to subjects closer to home. This means that Pookie the Shih Tzu has risen to fame and taken his rightful place as lead model. Accompanied by Pookie, the girls have also had a few moments in the spotlight! Taking more family photos has been so much fun and it’s also given me a chance to step back and appreciate the photography opportunities on my doorstep.

This year, so many photographers have been using self portraiture as a means of artistic expression. There is actually a real art to capturing yourself on camera, as shown by the greats; Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and Francesca Woodman. If we are 100% honest, who hasn’t indulged in a few cheeky selfies during lockdown? When there is nowhere to go, sometimes the best thing you can do is to get all dressed up and take a picture.

When your options become limited, you have to use the tools you have at your disposal, and in my case that’s Pookie, the girls and myself!

2) The Great Outdoors

I think we can all agree that getting outdoors has been such an important part of maintaining our mental and physical health this year. Being cooped up inside is not just bad for our physical health, it’s also damaging to our mental health. There is always this delicate balance between productivity and creativity. Sometimes we try so hard to come up with ideas that are fresh, imaginative and new that we end up regurgitating old concepts. The best thing you can do when you’re lacking inspiration to to just take a breath and relax.

Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your creativity. I know that getting outdoors has been my saving grace throughout this pandemic! Even a walk with the dog can really help to clear my head. There is definitely something about channelling your physical energy into an activity that really gets your creative juices flowing. This is partly why nature & outdoor photography has become such a trend in 2021.

This year has seen a lot more photographs focused on nature and the people within it. Some of my projects have included working with fitness brands to capture that energy-fulled look that motivates us to get out and get active!

3) A Stroll through the Decades

            Addison Rae by Mike Rosenthal

Another common theme that I’ve picked up on is the focus on nostalgia and a walk back through the decades. The younger generation have become especially interested in 60s, 70s and 80s fashion trends; we’ve also seen these reflected in the major lifestyle magazines across the UK. Glamour magazine recently picked up on the 70s fashion outfits sported by some top celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid; they have been styling retro sunglasses with bold flared trousers. In all honesty, I don’t know why flares ever went out of fashion in the first place!

Some of the big clothing trends of the 70s included bold patterns and colour clashes and these have now been replicated by brands such as House of Sunny and ASOS. Crocheting particularly has become even more popular over the past few months with many young people taking up the craft themselves. Zara have recently released a new range of crocheted dresses, tops and shorts that are flying off the shelves. It’s so strange how quickly fashion styles can go from being outdated and stuffy to cool and on-fleek!

4) Less touch-ups

Although we live in a world of Instagram filters, Photoshop and editing softwares, 2021 has seen a massive increase in unedited beauty images. To create photographs without post production means that you have to really nail your camera skills in terms of exposure, lighting and shutter speed. For portraiture photography, you always want take photos that flatter the subject; if you are getting rid of airbrushing, you need to make sure that you have great natural light and a shutter speed that doesn’t make the images too sharp.

Sharp images are great for capturing minute details, but with beauty photography, they can reveal too many skin blemishes which can make the subject look a little rough around the edges. Of course, no one has perfect skin, but it depends on what type of photo you are trying to take. If you are photographing for a beauty brand, you need to make sure that your model looks absolutely flawless. However, if you’re working with a brand who wants to show the model in a more realistic way, then the more blemishes the better.

5) Female empowerment

Self-Portrait by Jess Megan

This has to be my favourite photography trend so far! The body positivity movement has flourished during COVID 19 with thousands of online communities and influencers who promote a healthy body images for women and girls. We have also seen this reflected in photography with loads of images depicting women killing it in their chosen careers, as well as women who are combating societal beauty standards.

Jess Megan is a great example of a woman who has taken the fashion industry by storm, promoting self love and body acceptance through her modelling work; and she isn’t the only one. There are many other influencers and models who are paving the way for body positivity among young women and we are seeing more and more fashion brands showcasing models of all shapes, sizes and colours. The most recent Marc Jacobs advertisement launched their new perfume entitled ‘perfect’; the commercial showed a wide range of women of all body types saying ‘I am perfect as I am’. Seeing these changes only means great things for the world of photography as it is making it more diverse, inclusive and creative.