The lifespan of trends which alter our perceptions and the way we communicate isn’t bound by calendar years. The changes in our social values, driven by considerable technological revolutions, such as digitalization, affect the way we live for the long-term. Moreover, these trends don’t really allow themselves to be regarded individually, since they overlap and exercise influence over each other mutually. Some of the megatrends in recent years, such as shifting gender roles and mindfulness, have already become part of the mainstream. Nevertheless, the changes which they have initiated haven’t stagnated, in fact, they continue to evolve, merge and fuse with other changes, thereby creating new trends in the process.

In the world of advertising, creatives are continually trying to gain consumer trust by providing an authentic portrayal of life.  They want to reach diverse groups of consumers who are looking to recognize themselves, their issues and their needs in the messages presented to them

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Merely appearing genuine is not enough, what we encounter must also be sincere. Additionally, our perception is influenced to a vast extent by social media depictions, in particular Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr. The often very personal snapshots posted on these sites help shape our visual understanding. Here, spontaneity and creativity count more than a perfect appearance.  But we want to get closer. Simply observing is not enough – we want experiences! Virtuality has established itself as the next level of authenticity, with the solid support of modern VR technology and augmented reality applications. The complexity of our age can no longer be represented with clichés, there is a demand for versatility in both observation and communication – it’s no longer about one or the other, but rather both.

With this year’s trend report we are attempting to take these circumstances into account by concentrating on five of the most significant contrasting issues among the megatrends which are currently influencing lifestyle photography. Even where the stock photo industry might only feel the reverberating ripples generated from the waves of the mighty megatrends, contemporary visual treatments are indispensable.

AD HOC SOCIETY and SLOW CULTURE

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Digitalization is not only a technical process, it’s a mental one as well. Many aspects of life seem to be speeding up in recent years. We expect to make everything happen at the press of a button. Regardless of how convenient that may be, we still find ourselves longing for peace and tranquility. Cultivating a more mindful lifestyle may offer a solution.

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By deliberately shifting into a lower gear and slowing down, we’re giving ourselves a chance to recharge our batteries, too.

INDIVIDUALITY and COMMUNITY

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As strong as the desire is to cultivate our own identities and pursue our own personalized concept of living, the elemental longing we have for community and bonding with others remain undiminished. The desire for close relationships with partners, family and friends is considered one of the most important elements of leading a happy, fulfilling life. Without ‘we’ there is no ‘me’.

© Marco Govel/Westend61

The world has become a vast network of connections and relationships, with the individual searching for its place in this society. Only after finding it, can an individual begin to flourish, sharing and accomplishing things with other like-minded people. An increasingly complex world can be navigated better when we do it together.

SILVER SURFERS and MILLENNIALS

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Paradoxically, our social role models are becoming younger while our society is actually becoming older.  Today’s seniors are more active, possessing more confidence and curiosity in comparison to previous generations. Those referred to as ‘silver surfers’ aren’t looking to respectfully bow out of society, they intend to remain in the midst of life and continue to actively define it.

© Giorgio Fochesato/Westend61

That’s also the goal of the millennials, those born between 1980 and 1999. Technology centrally characterizes the lifestyle of this first generation of ‘digital natives’, with their lack of differentiation between what’s ‘online’ and ‘offline’. With their high level of education and strong motivation, they are aiming for professional success and self-fulfillment in their work. Because of the shifting and insecure circumstances that have constantly accompanied their lives, flexibility and the ability to improvise have emerged as key traits of this generation.

THINK GLOBALLY and ACT LOCALLY

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The internet is a virtual melting pot and home to a countless number of communities. The flow of goods and information is subject to very few conceptual borders and hardly any geographical ones. Today, a sense of belonging has little to do with nationality, but is based rather on cultural identity, interests and beliefs.

© Kniel Synnatzschke/Westend61

This is creating a new generation of world citizens who also have a sense of responsibility for their global home. Seeming contradictory to this global perspective, local and regional products and services are experiencing a revival. Transparency, plus an often more favorable environmental footprint and the opportunity to interact personally contribute clearly to the ‘home advantage’.

NEW WORK and GOOD LIFE

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Driven on by globalization and digitalization, new value systems have altered the economy, changing our company structures and the way we work. We are currently experiencing the transition from an industrial society to a knowledge society, in which life-long learning, flexibility and openness are important requirements.

© Peter Scholl/Westend61

Work and leisure time have blended into one another, creating difficulties for us in striking the right balance between them. One possible solution might be not having to separate them so strictly in the first place – by having a fulfilling, exciting job with a flexible working arrangement in a company you can truly identify with, where your employer offers you much more than just a paycheck.

This is a summary of the exclusive Trends 2017 briefing, which only our contributing photographers receive in its entirety. If you’re not yet a contributing photographer, but would like to benefit from our creative research, we’d be happy to receive your application at:content@westend61.de