The End of Summer Stereotypes: Conveying Summer Themes in 2021

The End of Summer Stereotypes: Conveying Summer Themes in 2021

Bored of sunset backgrounds and palm tree overlays? There are plenty of ways to convey summer without resorting to overused stereotypes.

For photographers, illustrators, designers, and marketers, creating summer-themed imagery doesn’t need to be limited to exotic holidays and brightly-hued cocktails. This year, make your designs relevant and unique with imagery themed on backyard vacations, body and mind positivity, or sustainable summer activities. These contemporary summer themes will help you step away from the clichés and keep ahead of the trend curve.

Summer Trends: Members of a Community Garden at WorkImage via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

What Are the Biggest Imagery Themes for Summer 2021?

For photographers and other creatives, summer presents a unique opportunity to use imagery that taps into the optimistic and outdoorsy spirit of the sunlit season. With light at its brightest and most flattering, and subjects likely to be at their happiest and most relaxed, summer-themed images have the ability to make viewers feel more content. From a commercial perspective, they’re also more likely to invest in the products and brands that use them.

Discover our Summertime Featured Collection to help your projects shine and sizzle this season!

Following a year where summer’s full potential went unrealized across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is set to host a summer full of potential and excitement . . . albeit with a few adjustments to accommodate the new normal. In 2021, exotic travel will be less attainable, so photographers may want to reconsider what the summer months will look like for many individuals. Similarly, images of “perfect” summer physiques feel a little out of sync with the need for healing, repair, and acceptance after such a tough year. 

In the midst of so much social and cultural change, these revised summer themes will help you create imagery that feels inclusive and helps build excitement for the summer months ahead:

Backyard VacationBody and Mind PositivityMicro-EventsSustainable SummerAuthentic and Self-ShotRainbow HuesBack to Normal-ish

Each of these summer themes tap into larger social and cultural trends in order to help you to create and choose imagery that will resonate better with your audience. Let’s explore each of these themes in more detail, and discover some of our contributor images that exemplify these ideas.

Summer Theme #1: Backyard Vacation

With travel overseas still uncertain or impossible for many, this summer will look a little different for families who would otherwise seek a few weeks of sunshine abroad. Of course, this doesn’t have to limit the fun and excitement of vacation time. We all just have to be a bit more imaginative about our staycations this year. Backyard camping (or, indeed, glamping), fire pit gatherings, and porch-set evenings will be the backdrop of cozy, homely summers in 2021. 

The trend for green fingers is also showing no sign of waning. Over the pandemic, two-thirds of Americans grew, or planned to grow, edible plants in their home gardens or apartment balconies, and many families have been able to newly introduce their children to the joys of growing your own. 

In photography, try to convey the cozy, intimate settings of backyards, kitchen gardens, and home terraces. Creatives can help imbue a sense of anticipation and excitement around even the simplest and humblest of home-set vacations.

Kid in GardenFriends GatheringSurfer DogFamily CampingGirl Eating Watermelon

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

Summer Theme #2: Body and Mind Positivity

Pre-2020, we might have been anxiously assessing how we would fit into our bikinis come summertime. But, this year, the mood (and priorities) have dramatically shifted. After a year of immense strain on mental health, it’s perfectly fine to simply be. Whether it’s embracing body positivity or having frank and open discussions around mental health, this summer, the emphasis will be on healing and reconnection rather than perfection. 

Ready for better days? Discover our featured collection Brighter Futures Ahead.

For photographers and illustrators, merging these themes with an outdoor context is key to making these types of images appropriate for summer. It’s becoming easier to meet friends outdoors, so photographers can capture depictions of companionship at the park or the beach. Consider using authentic, natural subjects in your photographs. The more accessible your images are, the more likely they are to resonate with real audiences. 

Friends ConversingMental Health IllustrationFriends FishingWoman on BeachGirl on Beach

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

Summer Theme #3: Micro-Events

Some restrictions on group sizes are still in place globally. So, intimate and low-key affairs will likely continue over large-scale gatherings this summer. The micro-event, whether a family-only wedding celebration, neighborly barbecue, or a pool party with close friends, will be the social context of many individuals. 

With this in mind, imagery should aim to foster a sense of intimacy and relaxation. For some, leaving out a wider circle of family and friends for significant celebrations will be disappointing. However, image-makers can reveal how these smaller gatherings could be just as—if not more—enjoyable and meaningful.   

For example, clever lighting can conjure a sense of coziness and intimacy. The glow of twinkling fairy lights or outdoor fires help make photographs feel more enclosed and atmospheric.

Family BBQFriends DancingFriend PicnicWedding TableMarried Couple

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

Summer Theme #4: Sustainable Summer

Consumers are increasingly eco-aware. With younger audiences in particular taking climate change action in their consumer choices, this general move towards a more balanced and environmentally-conscious way of living is also going to be a key theme of summer 2021.

With refillable packaging, electric travel, green architecture, and renewable energy, sustainability is no longer a fringe issue for businesses and individuals. Place these themes at the heart of your imagery and emphasize how new technologies and eco-friendly lifestyle choices can integrate seamlessly into our modern routines.

Alongside this theme runs the ongoing trend for eco-travel and nature-focused wanderlust. Since so people have only been able to live out their nature travel dreams on Pinterest over the last year, this summer will see these same individuals begin to confidently plan trips for the near future . . . and respond favorably to marketing that taps into their wanderlust ambitions. 

Seeking a wilderness getaway? Tap into travel ambitions with the Wanderlust featured collection.

Sustainable LifestyleTeamworkEco ArchitectureMountain TravelWind Turbines

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

Summer Theme #5: Authentic and Self-Shot

Self-shot images are photographs captured by the models themselves (or made to appear as such) that mimic the style of professional studio shots. Fir example, during the pandemic enterprising supermodels Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid produced self-shot fashion images for Burberry and Jacquemus. Bella even collaborated with her photographer via FaceTime to create a series of eclectic bedroom-set pictures

If you’re a photographer used to perfecting your studio images, the self-shot trend might require a deconstructed approach. The idea is to stage a professional photo shoot in a home or outdoor context that, nonetheless, retains a genuinely homemade feel. Seek to capture your subjects at their most unguarded and authentic.

Post-editing images is off the cards with this summer theme. However, the result will be unique images that contain genuine warmth and authenticity. These types of images work particularly well with summer fashion, which is generally more laid-back than the winter season.

Motion PortraitSurfer GirlCandid PortraitClose-up PortraitStudio Portrait

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

Summer Theme #6: Rainbow Hues

With big-name brands like Apple releasing rainbow-hued products in 2021, this summer is set to be a colorful one. Aside from being a consumer trend, it’s no coincidence that rainbow color palettes are no longer the preserve of children’s branding alone. Symbolic of optimism and inclusivity, rainbow schemes have become synonymous with Pride marches worldwide. And—in the UK—the fight against the coronavirus. 

10 Fresh, FREE, Fantastic Rainbow Color Palettes

Summer 2021 is the perfect opportunity to integrate trending rainbow palettes into photography, illustration, or graphic designs. Try a pop of rainbow hues in an otherwise black and white image. Or, experiment with a neon rainbow background for flyer or website designs.

Rainbow SwimsuitRainbow Ice CreamUnicorn RainbowsLGBTQ RainbowRainbow Crosswalk

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

Summer Theme #7: Back to Normal-ish

Although we want nothing more than for life to return to pre-2020 conditions, the new normal will undoubtedly continue throughout 2021. In the near future, masks are likely to continue to be a daily feature, but with restrictions starting to ease. 

We’re already seeing an increasing number of masks designed by artists—and even architects. These masks include the sculptural and the unconventionally sustainable (Dutch brand Marie Bee Bloom’s biodegradable masks contain wildflower seeds, a particularly inventive idea), as well as designer hazmat suits from Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

These inventive and fashion-forward offshoots of the pandemic are a breath of fresh air after a frankly frightening time. Creatives are exploring the imagery and contexts surrounding the pandemic in unexpected ways, resulting in high-fashion face-wear

Alongside this, photographers can record how easing restrictions will (hopefully) bring life back to once-barren city streets, resulting in street photography that feels impactful and poignant.

This summer theme is more observational than creative, but the unique post-pandemic context will provide plenty of fascinating opportunities for street photographers who might otherwise have had a quiet 2020.

Friends at Train StationCrystal Masks Rainbow MaskPink MaskStreet Food Restaurant

Images via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

The End of Summer Stereotypes?

Stereotypes can be limiting for image-makers, so it pays to seek out different themes that not only resonate with your audience, but also extend your creative options. Create images that will help your work and marketing campaigns stand out by using these fresh summer themes. 

In need of more summer inspiration? You’ll find it here and keep that summer mood flowing:

Creating Diverse Summer Stock Photos with Photographer Carlos DavidThe History of Photo-Worthy Summer Stripes in 20 ImagesFREE Downloadable Summer Social Media Template Bundle4 Color Grading Ideas to Add Summer Vibes to Video FootageIdeas for Dealing with Bright Sunlight on a No-to-Low Budget

Cover image via Shutterstock’s The End of Summer Stereotypes Collection.

The post The End of Summer Stereotypes: Conveying Summer Themes in 2021 appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

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