The questions between fine art photography and selling trends
Have you ever heard the phrase “Watch out for trends!” Keeping up on the latest trends in the fashion industry is a good thing. For photography it can sell portrait session after portrait session. So what are you watching out for?
About a decade ago when digital photography was in it’s toddler phases, we were all experimenting with ideas and techniques that were new to us at the time. The limitless doors of art had swung open. One of the fastest growing trends at the time was blk/white images with one element left in color. Blue Eyes, Red Scarf, Yellow Boots. This inspired by the hand painting of film images. This trend came in like a wildfire for family/senior portrait work and went out just as quickly. Using it to sell imagery as a treatment option was a big seller for a minute, but building a portfolio off this trend would have killed a business.
Some of the latest trends in photography are filters. And let’s be honest, some gorgeous filters. I’m particularly fond of the Alien Skin film looks. Holy crap it makes my film loving heart skip a beat. These trends will be harder to dictate how fast they come in and out and again are great tools to sell work while it’s in season. But building an entire portfolio off of a filter trend could kill your business. Value lies in what is under that filter. The quality of the work and the technique that goes into creating the piece prior to editing. An athlete isn't created from the gear they wear.
Editing trends tend to fall under inspiration or nostalgia, determining its long term value for your work depends on your clientele. Big coastal cities tend to move through trends a lot quicker than smaller inland areas. With the digital world, that is changing too. Some photographers build portfolios based on nostalgic ideas and trends, which is not a bad thing. Clients relate to the excitement of that trend. However in the long term, the photographer can be setting themselves up to start all over. Consistency in developing technique holds the true value. I think that’s why wedding photojournalism caught on so well in the early 2000’s. An amazing storyteller/photojournalist can capture moments that will last forever, no matter which filter you put on it.
My philosophy in building my work is in the layers. Building the framework, knowing the soul of the work, timeless techniques, and then trends if applicable.