Getty Images Unveils The Visual Trends Set To Define 2017

Conceptual portrait

Getty Images has unveiled its highly anticipated visual trend forecast. The ground-breaking forecast sets out the macro and micro trends that will influence design, advertising and brand communications throughout 2017 and predicts the social and cultural visual language that consumers will be most responsive to in the years to come.

Anne Flanagan
Posted by Anne Flanagan

The six themes forecast by Getty Images’ global team of visual anthropologists and art directors, are identified through extensive research and the company’s unique access to, and analysis of, imagery in advertising, pop culture and the changing behaviours of consumers and society globally. This is further augmented by Getty Images’ own search and image data from the 400 million downloads from its website each year. All of these data points are then analysed to create a holistic view of the imagery techniques and styles expected to make an impact in the year ahead.

The trends inform, inspire and influence art directors, editors, and artists worldwide across creative industries, from journalism to branding and advertising. Pioneering visual trends forecasting over 20 years ago, Getty Images’ past predictions have pre-empted visual movements across gender, social consciousness, design, technology, travel and more.

The 2017 trends identified by Getty Images’ visual trend experts are:

  1. Virtuality: Technology has infinitely increased the size of our world and we are moving beyond two dimensions toward images that surround and immerse us in the extreme. The origins of this trend lie in visually driven social media like Snapchat and Instagram that illustrate our hunger for instantaneous, first person content. But it moves beyond that into 360 imagery and virtual reality (VR). In harnessing VR, brands are allowing the story to be king, developing highly emotive shared experiences that extend the consumers connection to a brand beyond just a product. 
  1. Gritty Woman: There’s a new woman on the scene, and we’ve seen her emerge from a confluence of other trends identified over the last five years. She’s smashing conventions and tearing down walls, more concerned with what she can do than with how she looks. She’s tough. She’s tenacious. She’s laser-focused and unafraid to get her hands dirty. She’s not to be crossed, overlooked or underestimated, and she will fight for her beliefs without apology.
  1. Unfiltered: Challenger brands are adopting the aesthetics of photojournalism to connect with younger consumers and bring a raw, spontaneous edge to their storytelling. The Unfiltered trend is the antithesis of glossy advertising; it illustrates a new direction in commercial photography, a move towards a documentary aesthetic. It opens up dynamic new method of image-making which cuts through the noise, and makes consumers sit up and take notice.
  2. Colour Surge: Colour is no longer just one component of an image; it’s become the star. We now use colours in ways we previously couldn’t, breaking the rules and embracing unnatural combinations. The Colour Surge trend highlights the ability for image–makers to liberate themselves from conventional colour palettes and the accepted theories of “what something should look like”. Bold backgrounds and striking, ultra-saturated hues will drive design.
  1. New Naivety: Increasingly savvy consumers are shunning the overly curated approach which the early forms of social media engendered, and are embracing a loose and irreverent touch. Brands are also jumping on board. New Naivety is about embracing visuals that are spontaneous and playful, and at times uncomfortable. It’s about imagery that is not always “on brand,” and has an offbeat – even awkward – spirit. It’s time to get weird and unpolished, and make people laugh while doing so.
  1. Global Neighbourhood: The ever-increasing circulation of people, goods and information around the world is having a transformative effect on society and has the potential to change the way we see ourselves. Global Neighbourhood is about embracing this state of flux, as our collective cultural identities will be less about where we are and more about what we believe, based on our connections. Cross-cultural and socially borderless images will gain in value, as brands themselves become more nomadic, as they learn to change and respond to our increasingly complex consumer identities.

“As we strive to deliver the right imagery for our customers against a rapidly changing visual world it has never been more important to make sense of what imagery is evolving and why,” said Andrew Saunders, senior vice president of Creative at Getty Images.

“The visual trends of 2017 see us at the tipping point on a number of areas; scepticism around virtual reality has gone, replaced by an acceptance of its inevitability as a major technological watershed and excitement for what it will allow us to do visually; we’ve seen the millennial mind-set go mainstream as brands embrace a much rawer storytelling aesthetic, turning to a more realistic, editorial style of image-making; and we have come to appreciate big data and how it can help us understand social and cultural trends. Building on these insights, we hope this report can support businesses developing their communications in a contemporary way.”

Getty Images’ visual trends for 2017 have been released as part of the company’s annual creative guidebook, Creative In Focus. Along with more in-depth analysis of the visual trends, the publication features a deep dive into search data and essays which respectively look at the normalising of taboos and the myths and misunderstandings of brand communication to the millennial audience. The publication also highlights talented image-makers around the globe and, in phenomenal photo essays, goes behind the scenes of Mongolian wrestling and the re-imagination of the American rodeo tradition by the gay community.