The persistent trend towards an authentic visual language continues to develop and strengthen itself. In demand are images which are not only genuine, but also personal. Everything which seems ‘fake’ irritates and disturbs the viewer; this is especially true regarding the models. Our perception is increasingly influenced by ‘social media’, where we encounter images which depict immediate and subjective impressions of daily life.
Mainstream is a thing of the past; a standardised sense of taste no longer exists. Now it’s quite the contrary: the visual language reflects the opposites and extremes of our times. A one-dimensional view is no longer contemporary.

1. NONCONFORMITY

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© Stefan Kranefeld / Westend61

A sense of disappointment regarding some politicians, political parties or corrupt institutions reinforces our sympathy for non-conforming, courageous people who do their own thing. At the same time, popular taste is becoming bolder, breaking with convention and casting off stereotypical thinking.
Character and personality are the benchmarks of attractiveness, creativity and originality celebrated qualities. To be authentic, the intricacies of people have to be revealed, appropriately aligned with their insights and surroundings. Although there is a pronounced emphasis on unique character, each individual is longing for a “we”, for genuine connections which are futilely sought after in the digital world.

2. SCIENCE-REALITY

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© Anna Huber / Westend61

Science fiction is becoming reality-the boundaries between man and machine are disappearing. Technology shifts and expands human capabilities, in a certain sense, it’s an upgrade for our bodies. In today’s digital world, information is ever-present, robots are taking over in homes, wearables are revolutionising healthcare, and VR glasses are bringing cyberspace as the ultimate visual experience into every livingroom. However, unlike in a sci-fi film, the focus isn’t on what’s technically feasible, but rather what’s humanly meaningful. Technology should make our lives easier, not more complicated. It is self-explanatory, interactive and adaptive.

3. MINDFULNESS

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© Marc Oeder / Westend61

Our level of perception has become more sensitive, the overstimulating, far too complex flood of information we constantly endure either puts us off or gets us addicted. There’s a growing need for peace, simplicity and slowing down. We are trying to find ourselves again, to return to the values which are important to us. We want to be connected, but controlling and selectively. We want sustainability for our lives and experiences which enhance them. Material possessions don’t make us happy, but sharing with others does. Mindfulness means we have to relinquish the constraints of modern life, so that we can once again feel the here and now. Self-reflection and spirituality concerns itself with the predicament of how to maintain our humanity and important values in a technology-driven world. In demand is holistic thinking on a grand scale.

4. MOBILITY

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© Josep Rovirosa / Westend61

High importance is placed on flexibility in our society. New working conditions and working structures establish themselves, frequent job changes and relocations have become standard practice, everything has a flow. Our lives are continuously changing and in order to keep up, we have to remain constantly in motion. The changes in our value system, such as the shifting of gender roles, advances in technology or the mixing of cultures in steadily growing economic areas demand our mental agility and flexibility.
We’re free because we can work anywhere and we can stay in touch anywhere. We want to discover the world, but we also need a “base” where we can find peace and feel secure.

5. YOUNIVERSE

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© Uwe Umstätter / Westend61

In the reclusiveness of our own little world, we can find what we truly need. In response to the increasingly threatening world outside, surrounding ourselves with family and friends provides a sense of security.  At home, we can be who we really are, we can let ourselves go and relax. It’s our safe castle, which we can build wholly according to our ideas. Our own four walls turn into the expression of our life styles and our views. Besides, practically everything can be taken care of from home today.

This is a summary of my 2016 trend briefing. Our commissioned photographers can receive the complete briefing by request. Are you not yet a commissioned photographer but would like to benefit from our creative research? Apply to become a Westend61 photographer here: content@westend61.de.