With the back-to-school season on the horizon, and the fall and winter holidays arriving shortly thereafter, we’re entering a busy time for retail and marketing. What’s more, research from McKinsey indicates that more consumers in the US are trying new brands than they did in 2020 and 2021, meaning that companies and advertisers will have to get creative and innovative to attract and keep their audiences.

In commercial photography, it’s always important to think ahead and plan for the future. The summer months pose the perfect opportunity to start visualizing and creating content for the fall, so that your images are uploaded and available by the time marketers start looking for content to use in their seasonal campaigns. In this guide, we’ll cover six trends for Licensing Contributors to explore this year.

Spotlight on: Nostalgic style

Early Y2K style is back, led by renewed interest from Gen Zers. In recent months, social media influencers have experimented with low-rise jeans, blingy sweatsuits, and butterfly clips—leading to what some have dubbed the “throwback economy.” On TikTok, videos tagged #y2k have attracted 7 billion views, as of this writing.

It’s not just about the bucket hats and Sketchers; the nostalgia trend has also fueled a rise in thrifting, with sites like Depop and Poshmark making vintage shopping accessible. Second-hand shopping also makes for more sustainable fashion, tying back to a growing demand for a more circular economy. One survey from Depop revealed that 75% of respondents cited the desire to reduce their consumption as the reason they bought second-hand.

Spotlight on: Cozy vibes

The Danish idea of hygge—or cultivating a feeling of “cozy contentment”—has been around for years now, and the fall season presents the perfect opportunity to cultivate that cozy atmosphere. In lifestyle photography, you can capture that feeling through your wardrobe and styling choices: think soft, comfortable clothing, candles, and books by the fireside. Food and beverage photography also offers room for creativity, from toasty vegan cinnamon rolls to steaming mugs of pumpkin spice coffee.

The 500px content team recommends tapping into trends like plant-based foods, sustainable ingredients, and coffee alternatives for a timely twist on an evergreen genre. Draw inspiration from the rise of matcha; beetroot lattes; sustainable chicory root; or oat, macadamia, and hemp milk to brighten up your beverage portfolio.

Mocktails and alcohol-free drinks are also having a moment, with leading brands and restaurants getting in on the trend. Seedlip, a maker of non-alcoholic spirits, for instance, has seen a 100% increase in menu mentions year over year. In 2021, sales of non-alcoholic beverages rose by 33%, with alcohol-free wines, beers, and spirits taking center stage. Heading into the fall, consider getting creative with non-alcoholic takes on classics such as apple ginger fizzes, apple ciders, or spiced pear sours.

Spotlight on: (Even more) color

“Color, bold prints, and maximalism, mentioned previously, are continuing to trend,” the 500px team tells us. On the runway, designers embraced electric greens, bold reds, highlighter yellows, glitzy sequins, rhinestones, and more. “But these trends do not stop at fashion,” the 500px team continues. “We are seeing more trends in color experimentation in photography, such as neon lighting, gels, and other creative, bold methods.”

Earlier this year, Pinterest launched its first-ever “Color Takeover” campaign to spread the word about Jameson Orange whiskey, with the drink appearing in searches relating to the color, from “orange aesthetic” to “orange nails.” The DIY brand B&Q released a color-drenched print and outdoor campaign, while Harry Styles starred in a 2000s-inspired ad for AirPods and Spacial Audio, complete with electric purples, reds, greens, and blues (as of this writing, the latter has more than 27 million views on YouTube).

Spotlight on: Sustainability, redefined

Sustainable visuals have reshaped commercial photography for a few years now, and many of the trends listed in this guide tie back to the larger movement toward more environmentally friendly choices. Last year, as we approached the holiday season, a survey from Accenture revealed that one in three shoppers planned to forgo traditional wrapping paper due to environmental concerns, while a quarter planned to make homemade gifts. Meanwhile, on Etsy, searches for eco-friendly, biodegradable, and sustainable gifts shot up by 48%.

As sustainability becomes increasingly embedded within the fabric of our lives, we’re seeing photographers visualize the movement in daring and creative ways, far beyond the cliches of yesteryear. Whether you’re championing climate-friendly food, second-hand gems, or sustainable packaging, feel free to think outside the box. “Consider being more specific and intentional in educating the consumer,” the 500px team suggests. “Think creative still lifes, collages, or composites.”

Spotlight on: Vegan eats and local produce

In 2021, Google searches for “vegan food near me” rose by a whopping 5,000%, with searches for vegan versions of favorite meals—including pizza, pasta, chili, soups, and pancakes—being frequently searched. Last year, research from OnePoll and Just Eat revealed that 70% of American households planned to serve at least one vegan dish for the holidays, with 45% of millennials expecting to serve five to nine plant-based dishes.

As we head into the fall and holiday season, these are all ideas to incorporate, as are fresh takes on fresh ingredients. As we become more aware of our carbon footprints, many are choosing to shop locally. Some support their neighbors through community gardens, while others opt to grow their own food. From urban gardens to projects in the country, gardening provided an escape and a way to socialize and reconnect with nature amid the pandemic.

Heading into 2022, the seed and plant company W. Atlee Burpee Co. dubbed it “The Gardening Age,” citing research showing that 86% of customers are keen to try new plant varieties, while 92% plan to spend the same or more time in their gardens this year. On Getty Images, customer searches reflect this movement: searches for “sustainable farming” are up, while “seedlings” have increased by 60%.

“With concerns over food prices top-of-mind, we may see a return to the basics,” the 500px team says. “That could look like trying new recipes with homegrown veggies; exploring plant-based meals; or learning from Indigenous communities, elders, and chefs.” Look for these stories within your community, whether it’s recipes passed down from generation to generation or community projects and gardens providing better access to fresh food.

Spotlight on: Celebrations and get-togethers

In 2021, searches on Etsy for “wedding decor” went up by 897% in July, while searches for colorful wedding items shot up by 311% year-over-year. Meanwhile, on Pinterest, users have been searching for fun terms like “sunshine baby shower theme,” “moon party decorations,” “adoption party theme,” “divorce party ideas,” “adopt a pet birthday party ideas,” and “tea party aesthetic.”

Events and gatherings are (finally) back. From the “wedding boom” of 2022 to the fall holidays, the 500px team expects to see more pictures illustrating connecting and reuniting with family and friends, following years of restrictions. They suggest, “Remember to capture those genuine micro-moments and candid shots!”

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