Seeking Spirituality: Visual Trends in Travel Imagery

30/06/2016 15:45 | Updated 30 June 2016

It's that time of year when friends and family go on holiday and social media is flooded with smart phone imagery of travel and adventures. This barrage of holiday snaps is not just limited to those from our loved ones, we're also seeing a whole range of imagery from brands and publications around particular travel themes. As travel imagery has its peak moment, our Creative Research team are exploring the visual trends happening in this space so far this summer.

Facebook stats from last year show that there was a 46 per cent spike in Facebook posts tagged with "travel" and video content shared on mobile was 43 per cent higher than in 2014. According to another piece of research from, 3.8 million travel-related photos were posted to Instagram last June alone.

As people, we have an unending fascination with the beauty of nature and the spirituality it inspires within us - we call it Wonderlust. We also live in a technological world of connectivity which means we can satisfy our need to share those experiences. An example of a media brand focusing on visual inspiration for travel is - and no surprises here - Condé Nast Traveller magazine, which boasts 136,000 followers on Instagram. The publication's posts typically consist of hidden away locations, beautiful landscapes and scenes that inspire the idea of tranquillity and peacefulness. One of Getty Images' Creative in Focus visual trends for 2016 is 'Silence vs Noise', which reflects the need to breathe and reconnect away from the clutter of everyday life. Condé Nast exemplifies this perfectly through its shared curation. One recent image nicely frames the idyllic scene of a small boat on the ocean by mimicking the feel of a painting; building overlooking the Mediterranean. This is done by the simple use of negative space and scale. The image has attracted lots of engagement, receiving more than 1,000 likes already.

Visuals are being used by brands to appeal to consumers' desire for escape and relaxation. The 'less-is-more' composition approach has been used by Emirates, which employs a contrast in scale and space featuring single objects, buildings or people, as the focus in its advertising campaign for "Don't let the world pass you by". The effect is simple but powerful, the eye searches the frame and then finds the iconic Sydney Opera House, or in another example Big Ben.

Another visual trend we often see in travel imagery is 'Divine Living.' This focuses more on our desire to experience something spiritually uplifting. An example of a brand incorporating this into its latest rebrand is First Choice, launched at the end of last year. First Choice uses colours that are redolent of a faded transparency or nostalgic look, very much like the ones you can dial-in on many photo-app filters. For the record, these colours are very similar to the those named by Pantone as their 'colours of 2016' - 'Rose Quartz' and 'Serenity' - a soft pink and serene blue respectively.

As the summer begins, we can expect to see even more travel imagery of this type being used by brands and shared online through social channels. While planning and thinking about travel, people look for visuals that offer food for thought and inspiration. We increasingly seek images that take us to a different part of the world and indeed a different place within us, offering the simplicity and introspection that we sometimes struggle to find in our everyday lives.