Portrait Photography Trends & Fads: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

What is a portrait photography fad?  A fad is something that has a short term boost in popularity. To me, a photography “fad” can be a pose, prop or style of photographing or editing that becomes extremely popular for an isolated period of time. While fads tend to be exceptionally popular for a short time, a trend has staying power. Sometimes something starts as a fad but ends up a trend. Occasionally it’s hard to determine whether something is fad or trend.

There are dozens of photo fads coming and going all the time.  Now, with social networking so prevalent, fads can occur fast and be more widespread. Think about photography forums, photography blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.  When you visit these places, you see images of other photographers.  And chances are, no matter how original try to be, something may catch your eye.  You may get an idea. You may see a prop you like or see a pose that you want to try. You may be inspired to try new techniques, locations, lighting, or editing.  And through this inspiration, if enough are interested and influenced, a fad may evolve.

Many photography fads originate with props. At the moment, faux wood floorings (barnwood mats) are extremely popular. A few years ago, most infant photographers put babies in over-sized teacups. As far as editing and Photoshop, do you remember the popularity of sepia tones, hazy-edited images, over-edited eyes, intense glowing color, selective color, soft glow, heavy vignettes, heavy plastic skin smoothing, deep burning and dodging, and I could go on and on…

This post is NOT meant to make fun of the latest craze or recent fads. In fact, many of the included images are works of art.  As you look through the photos below, I suspect you may think some of the following thoughts:

  • “I remember doing that.”
  • “I still do that.”
  • “I love that prop.”
  • “I love that image.”
  • “I want to try that.”
  • “I cannot wait until my next session to do that.”
  • “I wonder where I can find that… or how to do that.”
  • “I cannot believe I did that.”
  • “How did that become a fad?”
  • “Why would anyone want to do that?”

You may look through some of these and realize you still do a certain technique or have a certain prop.  You may remember when you did.  You may feel embarrassed.  Or you may wonder why a photo made the list because you don’t think of it has a fad or trend, but more a staple of photography.  All of these thoughts and feelings are valid.

Photography fads are NOT bad. You may personally think some are, and that is fine too.  In many cases fads inspire. When a fad is done well it can actually result in a timeless heirloom photograph. You may look back and wonder why you every got swept up in a particular fad.  Trust me, I look back at my 80’s big hair, arms full of rubber bracelets, and neon clothing in that way.  But with photography, images create memories and capture a moment in time. You and your customers can still love them, trend, fad or not.

Thanks to all my contributors for sharing their images below.  These represent some of the fads and trends I have seen in the past few years. Some of these images make me want to go try a prop or location, even if they are or were a fad. Others, I may be less fond of.  But remember, for something to become a fad, lots and lots of photographers have to try it.

So when you look through these, what is going through your head? Be honest and add your comments.

Love them? Hate them? Which fads did you try? Are you now inspired?  Did they give you ideas? Which did you like or not like? What other fads have you seen come and go, not listed or shown here (I listed some Photoshop ones but did not have room for examples of these)? I know there are many fads that I did not include, so please share them and feel free to link to an image of yours that represents a fad. Which of these do you see as trends versus fads? Just because something is a fad, it does not make it forbidden. Many of these ideas were overused at one time, but used sparingly, may be a great addition to your work.  All things to consider and think about!


The big, bright lollipop * this may be the biggest one yet:

photography fad; the big lollipopPhoto courtesy of Amanda Andrews Photography


The newest trend seems to be fake flooring, like the “Barnwood Rug”:

photography fad; girl on barnwood floor matPhoto courtesy of Kari Durbin Photography


And using these rugs for both fake flooring and backdrops:

photography fad; girl against fake stone wall matPhoto courtesy of Kari Durbin Photography


Baby in the teacup:

Photo courtesy of Amanda Andrews Photography


Baby in a flower pot | Baby with a flower cap prop:

baby in a flower pot with flower hatPhoto courtesy of Photography by TracyT


Baby in an antique carriage prop:

Photo courtesy of Photography by TracyT


Baby with angel wings:

baby wearing angel wings propPhoto courtesy of Photography by TracyT


A high school senior portrait | Senior posing on a railroad track:

high school senior on railroad tracksPhoto courtesy of j’lynn mak


Baby wearing knit hat | The hands under the chin pose:

photography fad; naked baby in hatPhoto courtesy of Photography by TracyT


The big puffy skirts | Pettiskirts by Kaiya Eve:

photography fad; colorful fluffy pettiskirts

Photo courtesy of MCP Actions


Pier One colorful woven blanket:

colorful woven pier one blanketPhoto courtesy of MCP Actions


The cake smash – infant posing for 1st birthday pictures:

how to take cake smash 1st birthday picturesPhoto courtesy of Marissa Vargason Photography


Using colorful umbrellas as a prop | Graffiti walls in the background:

photography fad; umbrellas used as propsPhoto courtesy of MCP Actions


Victorian chair placed outdoors in a field with greenery:

victorian chair in a fieldPhoto courtesy of Amanda Andrews Photography


Baby on a platter | Wrapped tight in blanket | Big flower on head:

baby on a platterPhoto courtesy of Amanda Andrews Photography


Baby in a drawer:

photography fad; baby in a dresser drawerPhoto courtesy of Maggie Martin


Newborn baby hanging in mid air:

baby hanging in mid airPhoto courtesy of Pea Head Prints


Child in focus and parents out of focus:

focusing on one subject in a groupPhoto courtesy of Michelle Wells Photography


Maternity photography | Husband’s hands making a heart on her belly:

Photo courtesy of Pea Head Prints


Family member’s hands all over pregnant mom’s belly:

photography fad; hands all over pregnant mom's bellyPhoto courtesy of Amber Katrina Photography


Capturing the feet of the entire family:

photo of family's feetPhoto courtesy of Amber Katrina Photography


Everyone on the ground forming a circle in the middle looking up | Shown on a basketball team:

Photo courtesy of Laureen Carruthers Photography


Photographing people in window sill and frames:

images of window framesPhoto courtesy of Amber Katrina Photography


Baby bundled in a knit blanket and hat | Placed in a wood serving bowl

photography fad; baby in a bowlPhoto courtesy of Photography by Shawnee


Baby in metal bucket/tin | Extensive texture on smooth background

baby in a metal tubPhoto courtesy of Shimmers Photography


Wedding rings placed on a baby’s toe:

Photo courtesy of Alleyway Photography


Unborn baby’s name spelled in blocks for maternity photo (note the selective color too – I know I said I was not going to show editing fads, but… just this one):

Photo courtesy of Photography by TracyT

 

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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Comments

  1. 2

    says

    What a great look back at them all ;)! Is it bad that I have the exact “cocoon” hat bowl AND fuzzy rug combo LOL! And FTR, that has to be the BIGGEST colorful lollipop i have seen to date!

  2. 3

    says

    I’m just starting out and am constantly looking for inspiration. However, many of these images really showcase the silliness of so many of these fads. Man, the baby with fake greenery on it’s head??? That’s just wrong.

    I also am not a fan of babies on platters. And chairs in a field. These things just seem so unnatural and contrived. I’ve had enough of big tutus/pettiskirts. It’s ok if the girl is a ballerina, but otherwise, I’d stay away.

    My faves from above are the teen on the railroad track (kind of symbolizes how they are going places and what not) and the graffiti background (it’s interesting without being annoying).

    Thanks for this post, it was funny for me to see a roundup.

    http://ashleygillett.com

  3. 4

    says

    Speaking on the topic of fads, how many profile pics of photographers have you run across where it’s a portrait pic from the shoulders up and the photographer has the camera held up to their eye, covering their entire face?
    Really.
    Lacks originality, and isn’t concerned about their audience. Unlike the photographer, the person wanting to know more about the photographer doesnt want to know what kind of camera they have, how big their lens is, or how they hold it. They MIGHT want to know what the person looks like that they may hire.
    Just a rant.

  4. 5

    says

    This was fun! OK, the ones I’m still wanting to do are:
    railroad tracks – I personally think they’re cool and never go out of style.
    colorful chair in weeds – I like the contrast and I think the specific photo you’ve shown is beautiful.
    The ones I don’t care for (just my personal style) is the baby blocks and anything with the hands on pregnant belly….but I know those poses are still going strong!

  5. 6

    says

    Most of those I love. Even if they are fads, most people I know that see them love them also. Some of them I think are a little cheesy like the hands/heart on the belly & the baby in the teacup, but they are cute so I’m sure they sell. I’ve got my first newborn shoots scheduled so I was excited to see what people came up with.

    My main question is where do you get the fake barn flooring? They tore down our old antique wooden barn on the place because it was falling in so I don’t have anything like that for a backdrop/setting any more & I miss it.

    • 7

      says

      Kathy,

      That is part of the thing – they do sell. And some of the ideas may seem cheesy – but yet a pregnant mom may go crazy for a shot of her belly with a heart formed by her husband’s hands. Or a new mom, loving the baby all wrapped up with a hat. So while photographers may get sick of certain pictures, they may still be big money makers. As photographers, we need to decide, are we an artist or a business person or both. And where do we draw the lines on what we will and will not do.

      I can tell you that some of these I would do over and over again. Others I never did and are just not my taste. But fact is many did them. And many loved them!

      Jodi

  6. 9

    says

    Fad-(ish) or no, I think most of those photos are very well done … great lighting, great focus, and I’d be happy to call pretty much any of them my own. Its like the permed hair of the 90’s … yeah, we all look back now and cringe, but at the time, it was popular, and none of us were embarrassed to do it. I don’t think anyone should be *embarrassed* of any of these fads, just acknowledge that their time(s) has passed, for a few, and most likely some other fad will come along and take its place.

  7. 10

    says

    One thing I see so rarely is a non-cheesy pregnancy shot. I mean how many different ways are there to shoot a pregnant belly? Not many, it seems.

  8. 11

    says

    Babies in teacups are, well, creepy. And, sort of undignified. :) I agree with Chris that probably the biggest fad of all is photographers with cameras obscuring their faces. And, Jodi, you make a really relevant point that one must consider … do you consider yourself an artist or a business person. Honestly, I don’t know that you can be both without compromising one side or the other.

  9. 12

    says

    Okay, fads/trends that I feel are still great: baby wearing knit hat with hands under chin – love that look!! Baby in air, baby on wooden serving dish (not the white one), making heart on moms belly, child in focus parents out of focus (but maybe a different location etc.), the family’s feet – i personally love that one, and i love the victorian chair in the field look… there were several that I definitely wouldn’t try or that seemed outdated to me, but I’d say for the most part – most client would love those images… I am a huge fan of the barnwood rugs, although I have yet to get one. I don’t feel like I’ve seen anything new, but I do feel inspired – to get a couple new props (some shown and others that popped into my head) and to get a truly WHITE backdrop!! I’m sick of my almost white one… Those are my thoughts!

    • 14

      Anel says

      Amber, I visited you blog and LOVED that maternity session you shared. I am wanting to take my photography as a hobbyist to the next level and launch myself as a pro lifestyle photographer. I’m awkward with props but I love capturing those little candid moments and just wanted to say I appreciate you sharing your work. It’s really inspiring! :)

  10. 15

    Erin says

    I think you are missing the trend of photos in front of plain old junk. Old houses, junkyards, warehouses, clunker cars, back alleys etc. I got so used to seeing these until a friend of mine commented on a wedding announcement that we both recieved. I thought it was a beautiful picture of the couple, but she said “why would they want their picture in front of an ugly old train station?”. She thought it looked silly. I guess our clients aren’t always up on the latest “trend”. In 10 years will women wonder why they took their bridal portraits in a back alley next to a pile of junk? Just wondering…

  11. 16

    Vera says

    I’m not a professional, but I’m a mom learning how to take better shots. I am not a fan of the silly fads in photography. I’ve never paid a photographer for professional shots of my children or my family. I’m so afraid of spending a ton of money and ending up with silly photos that don’t truly represent my family. Now that I’m learning about photography, I can appreciate trying new things; props, fads, etc. I think they can be a fun addition to good photography. Keep the classic, tried and true photos and sprinkle in the fads for fun. Also, you’ll never learn what your own personal style is unless you try new things. You must always keep learning and growing.

  12. 17

    says

    It was great to see these, they were all well done. Some I love, some not so much, lol! I am a fan of taking furniture outdoors,lollipops and railway tracks. I will never shoot a baby in one those flower shower caps,they are horrible and I’ve never understood the family foot shot. I can’t image any of my clients paying for a print of their feet. I agree with Audrey Coley that seeing these makes me want to work harder at being creative and innovative. Great post!

  13. 18

    says

    I think the biggest concern that the seasoned photographers have with “fads” in maternity/engagement/senior/neonatal shots is that it may be “cute” now and creative, but will they still be appreciated 5, 10, 15 years down the road when they look back on those photos. Will the client look back at the photo as a classic capture of who they were at the time, or will they look back and laugh at the goofy pic they had done and roll their eyes?
    Amber Katrina has the right idea with the maternity shots she has. Fads like ‘baby in a teacup or cereal bowl’ come and go, but people still just want to see themselves and remember the joy. We all remember how Ann Geddes’ style changed things for baby photos, but her calendars go for $1.99 at Walmart now. Her style is almost kitschy.
    The main concern I think when you read between the lines of this post is will the work have longevity.

    • 19

      says

      Chris – great point – about will the photo have longevity. On the flip side, I think of my floral overalls as a kid growing up in the 70s. And it dates it and adds a smile on my face. So clothing, a fad all its own, can date a photo, making it less timeless, but classic all the same.

  14. 20

    says

    Erin,
    Great point – the junk… Photos in front of grungy old building with broken windows and peeling paint. I am guilty of that occasionally. But my husband always is like, why on earth would you take a kid’s picture in front of an abandoned building? LOL

    I love how some here love a certain fad while others cannot stand it – it shows how we are all different too – so many tastes and likes.

  15. 21

    says

    I’ve been asked my multiple clients to do some of those poses (rings on baby’s toe & family laying in a circle). I gulp, shoot it, give it to them but NEVER show it on my blog. I don’t want to be known for props & poses. I prefer to just keep it real (interactions, etc).

  16. 23

    says

    Flower shower caps on babies? (just wrong!????) may be just wrong in your eyes… but a BIG seller. I think Jodie hit the nail on the head when she said are you a photographer? or a business person? or both? I’m in it because I love taking pictures BUT I’m also doing this to make a living. I take pictures of what sells & what my particular clients love. :)

  17. 24

    says

    Just wanted to add that I’m not a fan of selective coloring at all…. but if a client ask for it, I’ll do it (only if it fits the picture)… but they’re paying me for it, so why not? I don’t put selective coloring on my website or blog because its not something I want to push, but I always get asked to do it with the pregnancy block shots almost every time.

  18. 26

    LB says

    That was freakin’ hillarious! Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than this! (I’ll leave you a tweet, too) That needs to be published!!!

    P.S. What about the fake bubble bath? LOL

  19. 27

    Cathy says

    I hate, hate, hate (and always have) and refuse to take the newborn shot with wedding rings. What is that supposed to symbolize? My mommy and daddy are married and your’s aren’t?? lol I’ve just always thought that was the cheesiest. Don’t love the heart/belly either but I admit I’ve done it a time or two. I am so over the pettis and glad I only only 4 of them…I know some photographers went crazy about 4 years ago and spent a fortune on them. A fad I see (or trend) is the bright colors, extra pop and extra contrast. Which I do love but feel will be going out soon as its been around awhile. Fun article and good read!

  20. 28

    says

    haha some of those are getting a little cheesy… Some I like and still want to try. Like the baby with the head on its hands in a hat I have yet to convince a newborn to try that pose! I would like to see a post on editing fads I think there is nothing that ruins a picture like glowing alien eyes or over edited skin:( Thnx I love your blog and have learned alot from you:)

  21. 30

    Janelle says

    I really enjoyed that post, it was a lot of fun! Also interesting for me because I am not a professional, but as someone else mentioned, am a mommy trying to learn to take amazing photos. I haven’t tried props yet but that would be fun. I too, would love to see a post on editing fads. That would be really cool to look at! :)

  22. 31

    says

    LOL…. I love this post! Baby teacup and baby in a pot scare me! I think it’s a little too much. I love lollipops, just for the fact that sometimes a kid won’t be good inless you give them one 😉 However, that is by far the biggest lollipop I have ever seen!!! I hate the rings on baby toes one, it is just something I have never liked, it looks to heavy on little toes. Pettiskirts can still be done cool if you mix it up! I love the big chairs outdoors! I agree it brings in more color, which is something I love! Thanks Jodi, this was fun!

  23. 32

    says

    Speaking of trends/fads, let’s not forget the one making it the rounds of the engagement pose where the girl is hugging the thigh of her fiance, like she’s about to “service” him. 😉 First time I saw that, I thought, “Whoa! That’s suggestive!”
    Not what I generally visualize with an engagement shoot.

  24. 33

    Emmy says

    Great post and kudos to the brave photogs who submitted images – there are some beautiful shots. But where are the Balloons!!! I am so tired of seeing balloons everywhere. Props can be great when it is something meaningful to the kids, family, or couple – but no one walks around fields, streets, grandstands carrying a big bouquet of balloons.
    I am unapolagetically (sp?) guilty of using ugly spaces to highlight beauty – love old wood, metal, textures, buildings. I also love old furniture outside. Nature never goes out of style and old furniture is already old:)
    I can’t stand images with something in colour and something in black and white in the same image. And babies with their arms folded under their chin has always looked strange and unnatural but that’s just me. A number of people here have admitted doing shots that clients want but never posting them on their blog because they don’t like them – guess what, they show them to their friends. If you don’t like it say no – clients should respect you for that!

  25. 34

    laura says

    This was such an enjoyable post! Some of these I feel will stick around, like babies in knitted hats, that is ultimate cuteness! However, I never could stand portraits on railroad tracks – I’ve seen thousands of those. The heart shaped hands on the pregnant belly (or anything heart shaped, but especially the hands) is by far the most overused. I’ve never heard of barn door rugs, but don’t care about them either. I’d rather not use props, I go for the natural moment and a real environment. Thanks, Jodi, you rock!

  26. 35

    says

    Fun post! Thanks! A fad I hope goes away soon is that photoshop action that makes everything creamy, even the sky. It’s the ugliest thing I’ve seen since selective color.

    I do the rings-on-baby picture a lot. I think it’s cool because it shows scale of the baby’s tiny parts relative to something that won’t change in size over time, and is meaningful to the creation of the baby in the first place.

    I don’t often do the hands-on-belly shots, but one that I loved that was real — spontaneously during a lifestyle maternity shoot the 2-year-old started to rub lotion all over mom’s pregnant belly, and mom’s hands joined her daughter’s. It was a beautiful shot! Still, I’m glad it was natural and not a suggested pose. 😀

    Thanks again for the great post! Bookmarking you!

  27. 36

    says

    Soooo interesting. I know for myself, when I was a just starting out and didn’t know anything about photography, I jumped on these trend bandwagons. The hands in a heart on the belly, ugh. The rings on the newborn’s feet, double ugh. You know what though, those were easy to do! No wonder I did them! When you don’t have a personal style to fall back on, it’s easy to get caught up in trends. Not that I don’t think a lot of these things can be incorporated into one’s style, but I don’t know that anyone can make a lasting, long term business by clinging to a one-trick pony shot.

    Things I do: “The Pose” with the knitted hat. I still love it, and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Though I do try to do both the pose shot as well as a more natural looking baby sleeping shot too now. The baby wrapped up and placed in a platter or basket. I have baskets I’ve used in the past that I can’t even stand anymore, so I know this can tend toward trendy, but I love how a tiny baby looks even more tiny in a little platter or basket. I’m also a sucker for abandoned buildings and rusted metal, peeling paint, etc. I think I’m a texture junky though because I love how the different textures photograph.

    I *hate* the barnwood mat trend right now. I’ve seen them done well, but mostly I just don’t think it looks natural and I hate that you can always see the indentations in the rug from the subject’s weight. There isn’t a real barnwood floor in existance that would bend under a toddler’s weight. (In your example you can see her elbows making dents.)

    I’ve also done a few shots that I wouldn’t blog or post, but take for the sake of a client. It’s a personal choice for me, but they know my style, they’ve already hired me, am I really going to show up at their home and refuse to do a shot that they like? I just feel like it would be so insulting to refuse. Even if they show their friends,they don’t make up the bulk of my portfolio and I don’t see it getting out of hand.

    Lol, I had a lot to say about that! Very fun to look back on these though!

  28. 37

    Marnie says

    Ha – how fun! I still haven’t tried a lot of these 😉

    One you forgot Jodi is the holding a picture frame up around your face with optional B&W on background outside the frame or vice versa lol.

  29. 38

    says

    I think “fad” just has a negative relationship to it and no matter how much someone says, “Oh really its not a bad thing…” calling it a fad makes it out to be one. When I look at pictures of me as a baby sitting in a studio, I don’t think it captured any more of “my image” then if there was something more interesting (and evidently cheesy to a lot of people) involved. Its still me, as a baby. :)

  30. 40

    says

    thanks for a fun and thought provoking post jodie! reading through these comments the thing that stands out to me is that what may be a silly ‘fad’ to one person is a ‘staple’ to another, what is a ‘favorite’ to one is an ‘i would never!’ to another. if you like it, do it and own it and have fun with it. if you don’t like it, leave it, but be don’t be harsh about it just cuz it is not your thing.

    living in adelaide australia, the fads don’t seem to oversaturate the market so much here. things north americans seem to be sick of are just growing in popularity here.

    and i agree – i would love to see a second chapter to this post – one about fads in editing!

  31. 41

    Valerie says

    It is nearly impossible to be original these days. Odds are if you thought of it I bet you can find it on the net. I think if you take your idea “trend or fad” and incorporate your clients personality then you will have a photo that someone will love forever and isn’t that really the whole point :)

  32. 42

    says

    I can’t believe how many of these you thought of here. I was sort of surprised how wide spread some of these ideas are. It always makes me wonder who is the person saying: “Hey, I was the first person to put a baby in a teacup, where’s my award?”

    I personally love props, I love how they can add a little spice to a photo and they often help a model be more comfortable. What is a bridal bouquet anyway? Just a time honored prop.

  33. 44

    says

    They may be fads or trends, but I still think they are adorable!! When I think of fads, I think of one of the girls that sang in my wedding (let’s just say it was in the 80’s). I still laugh whenever I look at her pix with her lace gloves with the fingers cut out! Now that’s a fad and I don’t think it would make any difference how the photographer would or could have shot it, but it still brings a smile to my face! Ultimately that’s what’s important, right?! By the way, please tell me some of these photos are still in style, cause I’m still doing some of them! lol :)

  34. 46

    says

    what a great post! i’ve done a few of these and hate a few of them. i just saw sandy puc’ speak and she said something that has stuck with me: at every shoot, she tries to do one thing different from any other shoot (and she shoots 6-8 sessions a day). i think that’s a great recipe for staying fresh.

  35. 48

    says

    apparently, i love trends and fads! i look at all of these fantastic photos as more like “must have” shots. i don’t know if i’d consider the fake flooring a trend or fad…it’s really just another version of a backdrop.

  36. 49

    Sue says

    Great post! Some of these I still love! Another shot I’ve noticed everywhere is a shot with an old suitcase in it. I just don’t get it. Sometimes it works, but many times it just looks out of place.

  37. 50

    Alexa says

    I wouldn’t really consider the “child in focus and the parents out” a fad… Mainly because it is something you can do in camera. Of course, I do love selective focus shots! :)

    I have personally only taken two of these fad photos… The chair, and the one I mentioned above.

  38. 51

    tricia dunlap says

    LOVE this article! i don’t think i’ll be bringing out a lollipop for a long time. LOL! 😉

  39. 57

    says

    Posted this on OSP as well.

    Posing subjects in a window frame or window sill, in front of a colorful wall, or using a shallow depth of field to capture mostly the children in the foreground? Definitely not trends or fads, just techniques of composition that have arisen as consumers have moved away from cookie-cutter Sears family photos. As the industry has shifted toward more ‘real’ portraits, these more creative ways of capturing people have emerged. Do you think occasional shallow depth of field will be out of style or unpopular 20 years from now? What about posing people in windows/in front of buildings/in interesting framings? I can’t see that happening.

    Oh, and as far as posing people in front of ‘junk,’ it is supposed to mimic high fashion. Luxury brands have been juxtaposing their work with trashy/urban scenes for forever and a day.

  40. 58

    says

    Jodi,

    I’m the one who took the “Cliche” photo that Steph linked. If you want to email me about using it, my email is matt [at] whitelampphoto.com

  41. 59

    says

    I hate the baby hanging one. It just makes me scared the baby is gonna fall! Also the crazy baby poses with the baby holding up their own weight on their hands. It’s not natural! I dont mind the one shown above b/c the baby is not holding up their own head, just resting it on their arms. And the railroad tracks, it’s ILLEGAL! Now if you can find some in a park that is not in use, that’s different. But you shouldn’t use real railroad tracks. I do like some of the things, like babies/children in buckets/bowls. Especially with toddlers, it helps keep them in one place. And I like the flower hats, knit hats, and headbands. But I think we as photographers should be balanced and do some of the trendy shots our clients want but also make sure we do some classic shots as well.

    I can’t wait for the editing post! I hate the current Lillyblue trend where everything is hazy and skin looks yellow.

  42. 60

    Ashley says

    I have to say without lying, so many of these I love! I just am not so sure about the teacup babies. Poor things look so uncomfortable. I like the parents out of focus ones, and the children in realllly trendy clothes. LOOOOVEE fake flooring and plan to definitely invest in many variations when I get the chance. As cliche as the blocks are…I can’t help but like them…actually looking at them now inspires a different angle that I may want to attempt. The lollipop…I keep on getting tempted for a big sucker for that sole purpose but can’t bring myself to bring that sticky thing in my home. I take pictures for myself and not professionally. I just look the idea of recreating and building on looks I love with my own friends and family featured instead in them. I actually have a pale green wash bin that I bought for the sole purpose of photos. Lol. I love the railroad tracks and the old fashioned buggy also. I guess I’m just as cheesy and kitschy as the next, besides in infant torture that is baby photography. Lol. Wait, take that back…I definitely do love the baby in the drawer? Is that awful? Lol.

  43. 61

    says

    To me, it’s not so important whether we photographers see something as a fad or not. What’s important is whether the photo moves the parents’ hearts. If it does then I don’t care whether it’s fad or not.

  44. 62

    says

    I know I’m super late commenting on this post, but I just found it. :-) I actually like many of these, but I want to scream when I see people posting selective coloring….and the inevitable fb comments that say “oh wow that is so cool how did your photographer do that??” Grrrrr!

    I love the juxtaposition of the furniture in a field, and sometimes it just helps to have somewhere for people to sit or stand or lean. Furniture also helps to vary the height of a family and make the composition more interesting. I also shoot the family feet and the rings on baby’s toes, because both of those things show the child’s size in relation to something that will remain the same as the child grows. My thought with the feet is to shoot that when the baby is a newborn, and then shoot the same thing through the years.

    Great advice from the Sandy Puc’ workshop attendee–do something new each time! But I think it’s also great to have a “signature” shot.

  45. 63

    pam mals says

    Okay I’m late to this, but this post made me think. I try to be aware of trends but not to over embrace them. A bit hard. But capturing the person in a soulful way is the most important thing. The trends should only lend to the arty feel of it.

  46. 64

    Ashley says

    I think the important thing about photos regaurdless of props, is that we keep them timeless. Timeless in the sense that the focus is on, the lighting is good, and the picture itself is good.

  47. 65

    says

    I apologize in advance if I step on someone’s toes but I honestly cannot even look at b/w images that have an item selected out and brought back in as color. For example, a wedding photo with the roses left red..I am guilty, as charged, for having done this. :-) Great post~

  48. 66

    says

    good article. I personally am over the newborn with a hat on and hanging from a tree. I just think everyones stuff starts to look alike and while you can take inspiration they should also try to think outside the box. I like it when I see someones work and can immediately identify whos it is. I think some of the “fads” is because of so many people starting up as photographers and do not understand composition,light, their camera, but it does give people a starting point.

  49. 67

    says

    I’m not a photographer, but the fad that I’ve noticed is more of a wedding/engagement shot. The couple is emulating American Gothic and holding hands staring blankly at the camera. I seem to see this all the time now.

  50. 68

    Bevin says

    Interesting topic here :) I personally believe that photography is meant to capture a moment in time. So if the “fad” at the time seems silly now, it doesn’t matter. It was a moment in time, captured. And everything in this world is out dated at one time or another anyways!

  51. 69

    says

    I always comment on posts about photography fads. I think that most of them work because they utilize certain design elements: railroad tracks are leading lines, hats incorporate texture, buckets are functional for holding toddlers in place for 30 seconds or more. Most of them help to create depth, texture and interest in photos. I also strive to capture personalities but sometimes I need some extra help with that and with the design interest of the image.

  52. 70

    Lisa Poshni says

    Fads or not fads, I think the newborn ones are all done beautifully and will always be looked back on as beautiful. Just calling them fads make them sound awful but really everything we do revolves around changes… cars, clothes, home interior and.. photography. Fads are whats in, whats modern, what everyone wants! and are not a bad thing… well unless we are talking about the 80s. lol Great post though!

  53. 71

    says

    Sooo glad I found this website via Pioneer Woman! Anyway, I love this post. One of the trends that creeps me out is the one where sleeping newborns are hwrapped in blankets or gauze and just sitting like sacks of potatoes on a table, with only their heads showing. I find that more creepy than cute!! I can’t wait to check out the rest of this blog and imagine I will learn a lot from it!

  54. 72

    Tia says

    I just love playing around with different props and backgrounds to start to get a feel for what IS my style. I think you are exactly right about what makes a fad and what makes a trend. I think that some of the poses and props you have shown are fads, but the whole shift away from the “sears portrait studio” look is a trend. And as some others have said, if you are doing photography for clients, you have to go with what sells and what makes them happy (within reason of course, if the boudoir pictures aren’t in line with your morals, then by all means forgo them) but just because YOU don’t like selective color or whatever, if that’s what they want, you have an obligation to your clients. I run into the same thing as a caterer. People will say “Oh, and could you do some of those barbq meatballs, those would be perfect” and I’m thinking “Noooo, they are so yesterday! Let me do some goat cheese and sundried tomato crostini with a chiffonade of basil…” But, alas, I do the meatballs because that’s what they want.
    On another note, I think high fashion photography has influenced some of these poses and props and I also think that the timeless National Geographic and Time photos have as well. Who hasn’t seen the stunning pictures of the unsmiling children in Romania wearing the vintage clothes playing in front of rubble in their village? With the bright colors or the striking black and white? (Or something along those lines?) Then, photographers try to capture that striking image in a false environment. That’s my 2 cents worth anyway.
    One thing I didn’t see mentioned was sunflares and overexposed skies. Personally, I LOVE them, my photos like that are among my very favorites, but when I posted some the other day, I had one person comment that those images would be perfect if it weren’t for the white sky, I needed blue sky and clouds. And another told me that I was going to ruin my lens shooting into the sun and I should just photoshop them instead.I was very hurt by these comments at first but I love them and my model loved them and everyone who sees them loves them (except for a couple of “professionals”) so I have decided that is what matters!

  55. 73

    says

    I don’t know HOW I missed this one. I love the education you give. I’m going to have to send you the two “jump” pics that my niece (age 6) and I did at the National Mall. She called them her “Texas Jumping Bean” pics since she’s visiting from Austin. They’re for her little scrapbook only, but I’ll tell you, the child loves them! Something fun for kids to do while you’re at a historical monument or something and let me tell ya….it wears them out because you have to do about 10 takes, haha! I used your actions, though in one I overdid the color pop. She likes it anyways so no worries. PS I still love the selective color on the baby blocks. In that case it’s always a classic to me.

  56. 74

    SL says

    Have to add my two cents worth. Yep we cringe at fads and trends, but when a parent looks back on their newborn they aren’t looking at how the photo was captured or how it was posed, they are looking back on a memory. Really, newborns all start to look the same to a photographer just as much as a pose,prop or “fad” does.In years to come though, a mum and dad will look back on their baby as it was then, tiny and precious. The rings on the toes is just an indication of the size of those tiny little toes and is popular here. Okay a fad comes and goes for us as photographers because it becomes stale, but to that mum or dad their newborn doesn’t get stale, they just grow up with a lasting memory. To us however that image we have forgotten about we might cringe over, but to them it becomes their ever lasting treasure.

  57. 75

    says

    Thanks for sharing this! I admit to doing several of these trends over the years. The worst that I actually did not even a year ago was the selective colouring (shudder) with flowers and blocks and a handprint on mommy’s pregnant tummy. I still have a colourful lollipop that I want to try with my daughter ;). Some of these are inspiring images that I can still see myself trying out. One of them not posted here is the bed in a field idea. As for the barnwood floor, I have been tempted to get one but fear that it may just be a fad that will go out soon.

  58. 78

    says

    Ha! I totally laughed at the lollipop photo! Ahem…I tried that once on my own kids.
    I have to admit that I take a lot of portraits in front of junk. It’s mostly for the color and texture. And I love old junky things. I recently photographed a family in front of an old junky truck that was on their farm. The mom of this family told me it had been in that exact spot for as long as she could remember…since she was about 4 yrs old. I would’ve photo’d them there anyway though. It was a cool truck!
    What about the naked pregnant lady with her shirtless partner poses? I tried that once with me and my hubby and again on a friend and decided I would never do that again. They’re photos that I would never want to show anyone. And I really don’t care to see someone else’s either. Too personal.
    *Sigh* It’s hard not to imitate others when you are constantly looking to other photogs for inspiration.

  59. 79

    says

    wow, you may call them fads but I thought alot of them were well executed. I did see a few I had done and wanted to do and felt a pang of wow I’m sad that it’s considered a fad…. then I thought again….. what ISN’T considered a fad then? Nothing wrong with any of them. I like the little pops of the unexpected. They are fun :) They all show beautiful people in a beautiful well taken photograph that any family should be proud to display. The ones I have a hard time with are the overly edited ones… selective color, trying to make a photo look “professional” by overly blurring the edges.

  60. 80

    says

    just a funny after thought… I remember reading on a “photographers” facebook how she hated other photographers constantly stealing her ideas and mimicking her work. Her portfolio was full of images like these… babies in blankets and baskets. people in chairs in a feild… I did that years ago before ever seeing her pictures LOL does that make it MY idea? I’m pretty sure I saw it somewhere… Not an original shot on her page… and she was relatively new so I don’t think she was the first one to come up with all those. It was just sad that she had such an attitude about it and felt like she had a claim in the creativity department 😛

  61. 81

    says

    Where babies are concerned I would rather go for something more natural. The Anne Geddes style of babies in hammocks, pumpkins and teacups, seems just too contrived, and so unnatural. Not saying they arent cute but just the more I see of them the more I would like to see them in a more natural pose. Im new to all this and not critisizing, because I couldn’t do as good a job. But I seem to know more and more what I would prefer. And believe me I did the 80’s in true 80’s style. Ergh!!!! Great article by the way!

  62. 83

    Ashley says

    I also forgot to mention, turning the camera slightly. My dumb wedding photographer did that to probably 85% of my wedding shots. They automatically make your head turn slightly. A couple are fine, don’t go over-board.

  63. 85

    says

    Hmmmm. Well. I enjoyed this post. Photography is an art form, so, why shouldn’t you be able to play around with composition and props and concepts? True that you will probably never be the first to do something. But, unless you’re strictly photojournalistic, what you do is pose people and take their picture. Why pretend that it’s a natural moment and you were walking down the street and saw something to photograph and you captured it??? In reality, you are there to take someone’s picture. Why not add some flair and creativity to it? I like a lot of these shots. It is a bummer that none of them are really all that original anymore, but as someone said before me, there is the “high fashion” of it all and the juxtaposition of the old and ugly next to beautiful. I think it is totally art. Now, if we could all just be original and think of brand new ideas every time… :) I also have to say, while I think it’s great to think completely outside the box, I also love plain old classic shots. I took the pic below of my nephew and I love it. i hope it’s not “trendy” or a “fad” in negative context. Both parents are musicians…. And I’ve never seen it done before, but I guess that doesn’t really mean anything.

    P.S. There is a picture of me as a baby (I’m 30) in a giant stock pot on the kitchen counter. Totally a snap shot by my mom. I love it. It’s a necessary shot. You have to be able to see how small you once were!!!! (although, I find the teacup misleading… it’s a giant teacup… lol)

  64. 86

    Jackie says

    I definitely love the idea of furniture being outdoors and abandoned or ‘junk’ in the background. I think it brings in unconventional beauty when done tastefully and is very artful as a concept. I myself am not a fan at all of nearly any maternity shot I’ve ever seen, they just seem so cheesy. The only one I’ve every seen tastefully done was by Leslee Mitchell (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=806627206#!/photo.php?fbid=10150108154794480&set=a.10150107477129480.277946.60845924479&theater). I think I have to agree with most here that say babies in tea cups or on platters are terrible, but I do love the little hats on these babies. I find it to be so cute.

  65. 87

    says

    I say give what ever the client wants. I like to sit and dream up a tailored session with my client for my client, and they love it. Nonetheless, some of these are just silly but to each their own. Also, without the fads we wouldn’t ever grow and try new things. So, thank you fads and trends for creating a challenge and sparking new ideas. 😀 ~ Victoria Knaup

  66. 88

    Diane says

    I’ll say that most of these things are what the clients want…and I’ve always liked most of them, minus the ‘heart hands on belly’ ones.

    Everyone knows that when you get pictures done, they are posed…they don’t have to look like a natural situation, or else there wouldn’t be a need for photographers, unless you’d just hire one to follow you around in your ‘normal’ day to day routine, which would be weird and uncomfortable.

  67. 89

    jeffreybaughman says

    This just goes to show that just because you own a camera, it doesn’t make you a photographer. Technique can be taught but the true artistic eye is something one is born with and can never be learned, regardless of medium. It is an inner sense that clicks when something is “right”. If you are producing mediocre work and you think it is good, you don’t have the gift.

  68. 90

    olga says

    May be I am such babies lover but almost anything you do with a baby looks very cute to me even if it has been done before many times. The only thing I do not like if when the eyes are popping out too much and the pupils are made bigger than they actually are (to make the eyes more expressive). It looks too fake on babies. But all the cute props: flowers, hats, little clothes, little toes…all that really looks too cute to me to not like it. I do hope to come up with my own cute idea some day tho. Just need an inspiration

  69. 91

    says

    I still like the railroad tracks, framed in windows, and feet are fun in all sorts of ways. Some I don’t ever recall having seen (big lollipop). Seems like the babies in knit hats is still happening. Some are terribly cute.

  70. 92

    says

    Great post!!! Lots of the shots are very familiar…”inspired by Anne Geddes”. I do have 1 question, where do you see the trend going for “Professional” photograpers? To me it seems that people are becoming more satisfied with mediocre portraits by anyone that has a digital camera and all they want to pay for is a CD of the images. I recently was told by a customer that she felt that I was a “Professional Photographer” but got indignant when I ask for professional prices.

  71. 93

    Tracy Lovett says

    Interesting post, but I will say I feel my job is to give the client what they want. I am hired to use my skills to mesh with whatever photographic goals they have in their brains when they commission me, and it is MY job to communicate with them and find out what those goals are. What kind of portraits I would take of my own children is somewhat irrelevant to what I do for my clients. Selective color? If they want it, they got it. Angel wings? They are in the costume trunk, along with baby hammock and knit hats. I collaborate with my clients, to help realize a vision. I don’t judge that vision, nor try to talk them out of it unless it is simply an unworkable shot. I don’t label things as “fads” but rather as “jobs” that make nice amounts of money. I am also an artist and an illustrator….photography is a wonderful way to make people happy and give them what they want. The work I do for myself, whether with camera, pastels, paints, etc., THAT is where I worry about my artistic goals and visions. Many times people hire me because they share those goals. Sometimes they do not. But in the end, I give ’em what they want. 13 years as a professional, and I intend to shoot until I die. Arguments about fads or trends are immaterial. Staying in business is what matters.

  72. 94

    says

    Too funny! Fads can be pretty ridiculous, and while I don’t always agree with my clients I give them the pictures they want. My job is to capture the person and their personality, all the other stuff is just personal taste.
    Nice post, now you need to do one for post production fads.

  73. 95

    Pat Collin says

    I am just starting out and I love a lot of those picture. Especially the Chair in the field. IMO I think you could set that with any background and it would be just as beautiful. THe butt in a cup, the baby in a sling not so much. I worry about twisting and squishing babies to make an artistic shot. I like the gaffiti but without the umbrella. A lot of very nice pictures. Thanks.

  74. 96

    CannMan says

    I believe the ones in here getting defensive are funny.

    Nobody said you’re evil if you sell it – but everything listed above IS either a fad or a trend.

    If it sells or doesn’t … if it’s what the client wants or not – they’re still fads or trends.

    And that doesn’t matter if you’ve been shooting since you got a Brownie as a child or just picked up your first camera and it’s a 7D.

  75. 97

    Anel says

    Jodi, I think you forgot mini chalkboards & empty picture frames. They are fun but like many people have already said, will the client still love these shots 10 years from now?

  76. 98

    says

    Great post. Half the fun of photography is setting the scene and taking the shot. the other half is producing something others actually enjoy. that said, i believe on big fad was shots in the graveyard. I remember a period of time where many people used a cemetery as their setting. I agree with the positive here – stay creative, don’t get in rut and do whatever you do best.

  77. 101

    Emily D says

    Some of the pictures are very good! Fads are fads. Whether they are bad or good.

    She wasn’t saying that all of these pictures are BAD fads. Personally, the babies hanging from things looks dangerous and extremely uncomfortable to me. That just isn’t something I could do.

  78. 104

    says

    I was doing a Google on Newborn Photography trends thru the years and came across this post. I’m very curious about the topic and would love to see the trends on the last 30 years. It has become my personal project just to study this topic. Fascinating I think.

  79. 105

    says

    I’ve turned down gigs for engagement sessions where they’ve wanted me to use props.

    Last one was a “I said yes” sign.

    Oh God.

  80. 106

    says

    I had to giggle at this. While I think some are pretty, they are extremely overdone. The cake smash one I see the most and it drives me insane! The railroad track thing drives me crazy too because it’s illegal.

  81. 107

    Jordan says

    These are all terrible, but a third of these I’ve never even seen. Baby in a drawer? People in window sills? Why would those sell? They just make the photographer look like she has no idea how to set up a shot.

Trackbacks

  1. […] chal-chal wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptMy faves from above are the teen on the railroad track (kind of symbolizes how they are going places and what not) and the graffiti background (it’s interesting without being annoying). Thanks for this post, …. Now that I’m learning about photography, I can appreciate trying new things; props, fads, etc. I think they can be a fun addition to good photography. Keep the classic, tried and true photos and sprinkle in the fads for fun. Also, you’ll never learn what your own … […]

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