The Six Visual Trends For 2017: Getty Images

Child covered in mud while doing obstacle course with father

Jacqueline Bourke (pictured below), senior creative insights manager at Getty Images, paid a recent visit to Australia, and B&T decided to take the opportunity quiz her on this year’s visual trends and how they will shape the advertising and marketing landscape.

Huntley Mitchell
Posted by Huntley Mitchell

Jacqueline Bourke (Getty Images)

What are the visual trends for 2017?

The last 12 months has been a year of change. Be it political, cultural, or social, these past 12 months have been filled with some big – albeit shocking – revelations. These wider issues often have a direct impact on content, including imagery that consumers expect to see, and as such, the images brands will use.

If we look back on this year alone, virtual reality (VR) has been ruling the headlines, with the likes of Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard becoming very accessible to everyday people. Subsequently, numerous brands have jumped on the bandwagon (successfully or not is another point), meaning immersive content is now everywhere.

These are the six visual trends we’ve identified at Getty Images:

  • 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 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.
  • ‘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. The above image is a perfect example of this trend.
  • Unfiltered: challenger brands are adopting the aesthetics of photo journalism 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and as they learn to change and respond to our increasingly complex consumer identities.

How have these trends been identified?

The global news agenda for the past year has been full of ups and downs, and these changes can influence the visuals we choose to create and demand to consume. Getty Images’ visual experts make annual trend predictions by drawing on these social changes, as well as a diverse set of resources, such as the more than one billion searches and 400 million image downloads on our website every year, and expert analysis of the visual trends in advertising and popular culture at large. This research provides marketers and advertisers with a crystal ball into the coming year.

These predictions form the annual creative forecast called Creative in Focus, which informs and influences professionals across the creative industries worldwide.

How is big data helping Getty Images understand these trends in a different light?

Getty Images’ global team of visual anthropologists and art directors continually analyse 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.

How will these trends impact marketing and advertising in the year ahead?

As the world changes around us, so must the visuals we consume. People are becoming unresponsive to over-polished, fake images and are craving a truth that represents the world they inhabit. Juxtaposing this is the escapism we seek in virtuality. As consumers’ demands evolve, one theory can be certain: images are becoming more interesting and attention grabbing than ever before.