9 Photography Trends in 2023 (Inspired by Film Photography)

9 Photography Trends in 2023 (Inspired by Film Photography) - Mastin Labs

We’re really inspired by some of the cool photography trends we’ve been seeing lately, and that we expect to see more of in 2023!

First, let’s be honest—the trends that we see these days are rarely novel ideas. They’re often recycled from the past, or at the very least inspired by it. And hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! After all, Mastin Labs was founded on our love for film photography and all things nostalgic. 

One could argue that many of the photography trends we see popping up in 2023 are inspired by the art of film photography. After all, that’s where it all began, and photographers were experimenting with film long before digital came along.

But nowadays, with the help of different photography techniques, Lightroom film presets, and editing tools, you don’t need a film camera to create these looks. 

Here are some 2023 photography trends to watch out for:

  1. Shooting real film
  2. Using on-camera flash or studio strobe
  3. Neon lights in your street photography scenes
  4. Low shutter speeds for blurred motion subjects
  5. Choosing black & white looks over color
  6. Taking photos that reveal a raw and authentic subject
  7. Documentary-style storytelling
  8. Vintage and retro colors in editing
  9. Experimental photos with a hybrid mix of Lightroom editing and in-camera tricks

1. Shooting real film

Film photography itself has been making a comeback lately, which might help explain why we’re seeing a resurgence of different film photo trends.

We have always been advocates of shooting real film. If you’re wondering whether or not you should learn film photography, we say go for it! It’s an excellent way to hone your skills and become a better photographer. 

A woman holding a baby in a green field during a maternity photo session, shot on fujifilm 400h real film.

Photographer: Bica Petrisor | Shot on Real Film: Fuji 400H

A woman sitting on a staircase in a black and white film photo; real film photography is a growing photography trend in 2023.

Photographer: Natalia Rodriguez | Shot on Real Film: Tri-X 400

A young girl in a pink dress basks in the sunlight coming in from a window in a real film photo taken on fuji 400h film.

Photographer: Natalia Rodriguez | Shot on Real Film: Fuji 400H

That being said, shooting real film isn’t always practical. That’s why many photographers who are interested in film will shoot digital photography, as well. Especially since, with a little help, you can get the film look on your digital images, too! 

2. Flash photography

The bright flash photography look has been really popular lately, and it’s being used in some creative ways, often to give a nostalgic, vivid, or grungy feel to an image. 

This flash photography trend is bright and playful, albeit a bit abrasive and even counter-intuitive at times. But that’s what makes it interesting. 

A girl holding a camera in a black and white photo with flash.

Photographer: Nikki Shefchik 

Some refer to it as the “heightened look.” Some use it to deal with difficult lighting situations, while others use it to create drama. In any case, the flash photography trend can definitely be reminiscent of instant and polaroid photography and disposable cameras, giving it that retro, film feel. 

It’s one of the editorial and product photography trends we’ve been noticing lately, and it can also be seen in portrait and lifestyle photography. 

3. Neon night photography

We love seeing photographers get creative with lighting, and night photography really forces us to do just that. 

Using whatever light is available to you is a great way to experiment and create something unique, especially when the source of light is limited. That might sound counterintuitive but sometimes, having some parameters to work with is just what you need to get your creative juices flowing. If you were cooking and only had a handful of ingredients available to you, you might have to get more creative about how to make a tasty and aesthetically pleasing dish. 

A couple kisses in front of a diner lit with neon signs at night in an image edited with cinestill film presets by mastin labs.

Photographer: Lindsey Topham | Preset: CineStill 800T

A gas station lit with neon lights edited with film presets to emulate neon night photography, a 2023 photography trend.
One musician sings into a microphone while playing keyboard and another musician plays guitar in neon lighting.

Neon night photography definitely gives us CineStill film vibes with its dreamy halation and edginess. Of course, the neon night photography trend can be spotted in street photography, but you might catch it indoors, too—think event photography at concerts and clubs. 

4. Blurred motion photography

Another 2022 photography trend that we expect to see even more of in 2023 is blurred photography.

Blurred motion photography is often used to showcase a moving element in a still scene, such as running water or rushing traffic. Sometimes it’s used to capture a still subject that is actually moving, with blurred surroundings; this is also known as long exposure photography.

Recently, however, more and more photographers are capturing their subjects in blurred motion.

A man playing guitar in a blurred motion black and white photo edited with mastin labs black and white presets.

Preset: Artisan B&W 

Blurred photography offers a sense of movement and gives a whimsical, candid, authentic vibe. It offers a creative take on the more traditional portrait. 

The blur look is a growing wedding photography trend, but of course, we don’t expect to see wedding galleries full of blurry photos. Rather, these are artistic shots that complement a collection of in-focus images and contribute to the overall story.

Film photographers were creating intentional, artistic blurred motion images long ago, and this photography trends pairs well with different camera film looks

5. Black and white photography

Of course, black and white photography never “went away.” It has always been a popular photography style, and with good reason. 

That being said, we’ve noticed an uptake in the amount of black and white photography being shared lately.

Black and white photography has a way of simplifying the image to bring out its raw emotion. As we continue diving deeper into a craving for authenticity (more on this later), it makes sense that black and white photography is being used as a tool to accomplish this.

A bride and groom stand together in a field in an image edited with black and white film presets by mastin labs.

Photographer: Chloe Santon | Preset: Tri-X 

A bride and groom kiss in a convertible during wedding photos edited in black and white.

For some time, many photographers were hesitant to post black and white photos on Instagram and other social media platforms as it was believed color photos received better engagement and possibly even preference from the algorithm. 

Now, people are starting to care a little less about “vanity metrics” and “beating the algorithm” on social media and more about posting content that resonates with them and their ideal clients, so it’s possible that photographers are now more comfortable letting their love for black and white photography shine.

Many of these looks are rooted in black and white film photography. If you’re wondering where to start or how to edit in black and white, Artisan B&W presets and film are especially popular looks for black and white photographers.

6. Raw, real, and authentic photography

For quite some time, we were living in a time of seeing only the “highlight reels” of people’s lives online. 

Now, we’re seeing a slow return to authenticity. Many people are more focused on sharing images that are raw and real rather than over edited and “perfect.”

This isn’t to say that photographers aren’t editing images. After all, having a unique style is important if you want to stand out and create art that feels like your own. But there is a real focus on capturing raw emotion, encouraging body positivity, and sharing the tough stuff along with the joyful moments. 

A real, authentic moment of children playing in a yard capture on camera, showcasing one of 2023's popular photography trends.

Photographer: Nikki Shefchik 

Usually, with real film photography, what you shoot is what you get. While you can edit scans, post-processing abilities are limited compared to digital photography. There’s no removing rolls or bumps, fixing the unruly hair, or SOMETHING ELSE. Plus, since each image essentially costs money and you only have so much film in a roll, there’s no taking hundreds of shots until you get the perfect one. 

In this way, we feel like the trend towards authentic, raw, and real photography that we’ve been seeing lately is inspired by film.

7. Photojournalistic & documentary-style photography

This 2022/2023 photography trend could be considered a subcategory of the one we mentioned above. 

Photojournalism and documentary-style photography is no longer just for newspapers, magazines, and street photographers—it’s being incorporated in all types of industries now. 

The photojournalistic style has been a growing wedding photography trend over the last few years, and is being used more and more in family photography, too.

A child looking into a display case in a documentary-style photo in black and white.

Photographer: Matt Coomber Such | Preset: Tri-X

A view into a pantry lit in a dark kitchen in a documentary-style image edited with Mastin labs film presets.

Photographer: Molly Carstater | Preset: Fuji 800H

Two children wearing orange play with a kayak by a lake in a beautiful photo edited with mastin labs ektar presets.

Photographer: Krishna Sumagang Roegiers | Preset: Ektar 100

While often confused, there are some differences between lifestyle and documentary photography. Documentary photography is all about capturing authentic moments to help tell a story. The key is to use your camera as a tool to focus on relationships, emotions, and expressions and capture them naturally, without intervention.

It’s candid photography with a storytelling element. And, of course, film photography is where documentary photography and photojournalism began.

8. Vintage & retro photography styles

Like we mentioned earlier, trends often come in cycles! 

From using retro color palettes to shooting real film to emulating vintage films looks on digital images, we’re seeing a resurgence of photography with a vintage, retro feel.  

Two camera and drinks sit on a table in black and white image shot on real film.

Photographer: Aaron Knirk | Shot on Real Film: Ilford

The back end of a vintage yellow vehicle with red stripes.

Preset: Ektachorme 100

A retro-inspired photo of a woman stepping out of a vehicle.

Photographer: Vidal Carmona | Preset: Gold 200

Vintage and retro photography styles have a nostalgic aesthetic and often use warm or dreamy tones, grain, light flares and other film photography effects. It’s about the vibe over the sharpness of the image. 

Vintage slide film is surely an inspiration for this trend!

9. Experimental photography 

One of the coolest photography trends you might see more of lately is experimental photography. 

Experimental photography uses unique techniques to create an image that doesn’t necessarily reflect exactly what we see in the real world, but rather an artistic interpretation. Some examples of experimental photography techniques include double exposure photography, surrealist photography, and expired film photography.

A double exposure image of a bride and groom in a field edited with mastin labs ektar 100 presets, showing an experimental photography trend for 2023.

Photographer: Chloe Santon | Preset: Ektar 100

A beautiful woman stands in an experimental portrait.

Photographer: Albane De Marnhac

These techniques can sometimes be applied in-camera or during the shoot (especially if shooting real film), or in post-production. The result is something artistic, unique, and often dream-like or surreal. 

Film photographers were experimenting with photography long before digital photography came along, sparking much of the inspiration for these photography trends today.

What photo trends will you try in 2023?

We hope you enjoy trying out new photography trends and techniques this year! 

Try these film photography trends with the help of film presets

Mastin Labs Lightroom presets emulate real film stocks, so you can get the film look on your digital images in just a few clicks. Combine our presets with the trends above to nail the style you’re going for!

If you use Mastin Labs film presets, remember to tag @mastinlabs so that we can show you some love, and join the Mastin Labs Community for assistance and inspiration from real photographers around the world.