Visual Trends for 2017

Crazy as it may seem, we’re already four months deep into 2017. Which means new visual trends are starting to emerge and evolve. It’s important to know how trends are changing so that you can better connect with your audience and provide visuals that are relevant and in demand. Here at Outlier, we’ve done some digging into what these new trends are and have shot our own photos to showcase them.

Color Surge

This one is a lot of fun. It’s all about big bold colors. Using unnatural and bright tones is not only eye-catching but also adds a tiny splash of surrealism to photos and videos. Color can be used to communicate emotions, to contrast or compare, to make something stand out or make it almost disappear. This visual trend also seems to lean toward minimalism which further highlights the featured color.

The coolest aspect I find about this trend is that you can use everyday objects and create something not-so-everyday. In this example I used a lamp I found here in the office and a personal copy of “The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers”. Blue and yellow are also Outlier’s main colors so it’s a fun way to represent the brand!  


It’s time to get messy. To be real. To capture life instead of compose it. Unfiltered is all about photo and video that displays the grittier side of life. It’s about celebrating the dirty, chaotic, disruptive reality that everyone experiences. Unfiltered is all about the photojournalistic side of visuals. This trend should feel authentic instead of composed and carefully arranged.

What says gritty and rebellious better than tattoos? More than just being a sign of rebellion though, these featured tattoos really speak to the personality of my friend who modeled for me – which is a key component to the unfiltered trend. It can’t be gritty for grittiness sake or else it will ring false. It has to have some sort of personality to back it – that’s what creates the authenticity and connection.

Gritty Women

Gritty women is a rejection of the old imagery of soft, doll-like, obedient, quiet femininity. Instead, this visual trend showcases the power, strength, and fierceness of women all around the world. This category is not limited to sports but displays women in all categories of life defying out-dated stereotypes. Whether that’s with an impressive physical feat, talented craftsmanship, or simply a steely gaze.

I took this photo of my friend on a cloudy spring day (basically every day here in Portland). I think her strong personality shines through here. Her look is unconventional, which I love because it defies the doll-like pretty which previously dominated the idea of what a woman “should” look like. I also wanted the city behind, but below, her in the background. I felt like this gives her a certain dominance.

Global Community

As the world becomes more equipped with technology, it also becomes more culturally connected. More and more youths are growing up in multicultural homes, images and news from different countries can be accessed with the click of a mouse, restaurants fuse different culinary traditions. This visual trend is all about showcasing different cultures and the mix of cultures in urban places. The Global Community is about celebrating the flux of culture and the different colors, foods, styles, and traditions that it brings.

This photo was taken in Portland’s Chinatown. I personally love the pop of pink and gold and how it stands out against the brick building.

New Naivety

New Naivety, like Unfiltered, is all about authenticity. But instead of the dirty, messy, gritty reality that Unfiltered reveals, New Naivety aims to show the playful, spontaneous, imperfect, awkward side of life. This trend is about creating a feeling of honesty and intimacy through humour and brevity. These images are easily digestible and communicate their message quickly. This category reminds you to embrace all of life’s little imperfections, because after all,  that’s what makes it flavorful.

This trend was a little more difficult. It’s pretty hard to plan spontaneity which is what I feel brings this trend to life. So instead, I dug through some of my old photos and found this one – Apple, a five month old puppy I fostered. At the end of the day, New Naivety aims to bring that feel-good smile to your face, which this picture definitely does (at least for me.)

All of these trends display a larger shift in culture where reality and authenticity, even if a little ugly, rule. People are feeling disconnected from the advertisements that surround them. No, they are not that perfect woman, they don’t have those perfect children, they don’t live in beautiful spacious apartments, and they don’t want what you’re selling. Today’s world is characterized with a short attention span and an overwhelming amount of media. You have to grab your audience’s attention, and the best way to do that is through connection.

Creating a feeling of connection is the underlying theme that connects these trends together. Whether that’s through an artistic use of color that elicits different emotions, honoring a reality that’s often swept under the rug, showing that women push boundaries everyday, embracing the global community, or making people smile with an honest or silly moment. Using these visual trends will help you engage more with your audience.

Of course, this is just for 2017. Who know what new trends will be up and coming in 2018!