Why travel photography is entering a new era

In the 2010s, travel photography is all about meaningful experiences and spiritual journeys, says Getty's Paul Foster.

Paul Foster of Getty

In an increasingly connected world, we've seen a complete revolution in the way that we communicate with one another. With the swipe of a finger, we scroll through hundreds – sometimes thousands – of pieces of content a day, becoming immersed in other people's lives via technology.

From the beginning, photography has been a part of this immersive experience, enabling us to experience moments, places and journeys all without leaving our homes. The pervasiveness of technology has enabled us to be part of this immersive experience; to be a fly on the wall, a part of the spiritual journey and an explorer to never-before-seen corners of the earth.

This has had a profound effect on the visual representation of how we view the world, leading to a growing visual trend we've identified through the Getty Images creative research team as 'Wonderlust'.

The search for meaning

10262837, piskunov/iStock by Getty Images

Wonderlust is our increasing fascination with the boundless beauty and unpredictability of nature and goes way beyond inspiration for your next beach holiday. It is a celebration of the wonder of space, the majesty of nature and discovery of spirituality.

Over the last year we've seen a 30 per cent rise in searches and purchases of imagery with concepts and keywords related to these kind of themes.

People are seeking out and sharing new and meaningful experiences through new technologies like GoPro or drone videos that show us perspectives of our world that were impossible to see a few years ago.

Living vicariously

19716433, franckreporter/iStock by Getty Images

Social platforms and wearable technology has allowed us to live vicariously through our mobile and computer screens without ever leaving the house or document our own expeditions.

An American Express survey found that 88 per cent of respondents are seeking more enriched lives, with travel as the number one dream on everyone's bucket list – and people are hungry for it.

It's reported that 77 per cent of respondents said they preferred 'experiences' over things and it is this yearning for the experience, the journey and the unknown that elevates this trend and puts the 'O' in Wonderlust.

Secular spirituality

16581872, Manfred_Konrad/iStock by Getty Images

The desire for these experiences has propelled the solo traveler, on the search for self and transformation. The lure of the idyllic, the isolated and the intangible unknown has led to the rise of the unplugged tech tribe, sending us on travel that is a pilgrimage both secular and spiritual.

Our fascination with the mysteries of space and our desire to connect with the cosmos inspires the immersive experience and sees us seeking out virtual realities.

The more we travel and wonder, the more we yearn for the unique and peculiar. The opportunity for marketers and advertisers here is to have the message become a catalyst for this immersive experience and your brand, the destination.

Use in advertising

IBM's campaign draws on humanity's search for a higher purpose

Many are already leveraging this, successfully leveraging the majesty of the world's landscapes and using variations of colour and scale to sell themselves as window to the wider world.

IBM's 'See what the world is making today' draws on the wonder of the cosmos and humanity's curiosity and search for a higher purpose to drive their brand message.

Emirates' campaign emphasises the importance of the journey rather than the destination

Emirates' 'Don't Let The World Pass You By' adverts, include visuals of the sky with a local landmark making up a small part of the image, highlighting the journey instead of the destination.

Our own iStock by Getty Images recently explored the intersection of our imagery and the Pantone colour through intriguing visual stories from four celebrated Instagrammers. It's the perfect representation of "venturing beyond imagination".

Real or virtual, our thirst for geographic expanses, adventure and experience is driving a huge trend this year. Wonderlust is seeing the world with fresh eyes – and imagery is our greatest catalyst.

Words: Paul Foster

Paul Foster is senior director of creative Content at Getty Images.

Liked this? Read these!