Trends in every creative field always come and go—but some of them must be left behind forever. Photography is no different, whether you’re a professional photographer or a social media photo-dump enthusiast.

These are the photography trends we’ve seen more than enough and can rest easy as 2023 rolls around.

1. Minimalism

We can appreciate the minimalist movement in regards to minimalist abstract art as well as reducing our footprint. However, the trend has spread to other creative endeavors as well, which means saying goodbye to vibrant colors, interesting artworks, and much more that might be perceived as “clutter.”

Photos are meant to capture life, and life is not a clean room with neutral tones and minimal textures. The removal of elements that give a photo character and emotion feels a bit dystopian.

2. Social Media Filters

Social media filters have been popular long before 2022, but they are overused, and it’s time to let them go.

In addition to the unrealistic beauty standards that filters perpetuate, they don’t leave much room for creativity or authenticity. When everyone uses the same filters over and over again, we start to see all photos in the same light.

Photos without these filters can either look heavy or awkward, which can be frustrating for a photographer who is making the effort.

3. Overcooked HDR

HDR has its place. This is effective at bringing out, or enhancing, the detail of a scene in real life, which makes this technique very useful, especially for landscape shots. The key is to do it subtly, or else the end result can end up looking neon.

In most cases, you don’t even need to use HDR photography. Use HDR only when one layer of your composition is fully exposed, but another is too dark, bright, or washed out.

4. Demonstration Activism

We’ve seen a rise in social awareness over the past decade, and it’s promising to see people coming together on social media. But, how much of it is real, and how much is just saying “I was a part of it”?

The purpose of advocacy is to push for change, not to aestheticize it. Portraying key moments in social justice movements is important for documenting history. But if you show up to a protest with the intention of taking good pictures, you might need to re-think why you’re there.

5. Hyper-enhanced Photos

The rise of AI photo enhancers is thanks to the growing trend of super sharp images. The point is that the sharpen, enhance, and clarity features must be used sparingly to produce real results. Otherwise, you end up with a picture that’s too grainy or a subject with too many sharp edges. You’re much better off using focus stacking for clear images that look natural.

When restoring old photos using dedicated equipment, you don’t have much control over how sharp the edges of the subject turn out. And tools like Remini are great for removing blurriness, but they can also result in unnatural sharpness. Ironically, the best way to get rid of the unsightly sharpness would be to re-inject some blurriness into the picture.

6. Skin smoothing

Similar to social media filters, skin smoothing maintains an unattainable standard. It’s time to let go of this editing trend and show people in real life.

Even the most improbable changes can alter our perception of reality and inflate our expectations. This can lead to low self-esteem and poor mental health. We are people, and people have textured skin.

7. High Contrast

Photos that are high in contrast tend to go along with the over-enhanced photo editing trend because high contrast helps to make an image look clearer and sharper. While upping the contrast a smidge is a good trick for enhancing a washed out photo, you shouldn’t rely on it.

More importantly, high contrast photography must serve a purpose. This is a great technique for showing tonal differences in an image, but it takes some effort to master and you can’t ham with the contrast slider.

some trends need to be left behind

2022 has been a great year for photography, but we’ve also seen some questionable trends. If you think your photo could be improved a bit, go ahead with a light hand. If you love the minimalist aesthetic, go for it, but know that you’re missing out on a world of colors and textures. And remember, real people don’t have doll skin.

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