The best way to become a well-rounded photographer is to follow the same learning structure of formal education. In other words, just like you studied a number of different subjects in order to get a better understanding of the world surrounding you, don’t limit your development to just the skills you need in your day-by-day events such as learning all about lighting and taking care of your photography website. Instead, look beyond your domain and find out about other types of photography and what they entail. This will allow you to broaden your expertise, get inspired, and maybe even find your true calling.
Now, depending on how detailed you want to be and the guidelines you’re following, the list of photography genres could go on for days on end. To simplify the process and help you navigate your way through them, we have compiled the twenty most common and popular types of photography.
For many centuries, humans have tried to fly just like the birds and enjoy the unique view of the world one can only get from up in the sky. Thanks to the ever growing technological advancements, it is now easier than ever to capture these incredible perspectives, and aerial photography has become one of the most popular types of photography. Once limited to landscape imagery, aerial photographers are now working in everything from weddings and fashion photoshoots to architecture and commercial photography.
Imagery revolving around buildings (both interiors and exteriors) structural details, and cityscapes fall under the architecture photography division. Sometimes referred to as urban photography, this type of photography requires specific techniques and gear to avoid perspective and distortion issues. The two most popular sub-divisions of architecture photography are real estate photography, which focuses on advertising, and urban exploration, which targets abandoned spaces.
Astrophotographers capture areas of the night sky, astronomical objects, and celestial events. There are several types of astrophotography, including deep space, the solar system, wide field, and time-lapse. Many consider astrophotography the most humbling among all types of photography. Not only does it make us realize that we are only a speck of dust in this vast universe, it’s also incredibly demanding from a technical point of view.
Essentially, commercial photography is the name given to any kind of images taken with the intent of selling or promoting a product or service. Because of the long list of genres that can actually be considered commercial photography at a certain time (basically any of them, really), this is often considered one of the most complex types of photography. Therefore, if you want to become a professional photographer, commercial photography is most definitely something you should work towards.
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Documentary photographers aim to capture raw, real-life situations and shed light on remarkable events and stories. This can be anything from civilians suffering the terrors of war to small villages planting a forest to combat climate change one tree at the time. This type of photography offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore your creative photography ideas and create meaningful content that expands over a period of time. Documentary photography is one of the main photography trends of 2019, as professionals across all genres are using it to give visibility to humane and ecological causes.
"Pics or it didn't happen" could just as well be the defining motto of current society. From weddings and graduations to networking events and concert photography, the demand for event photography is at an all-time high. It seems that every occasion must be captured and later shared online in order to hold some sort of value, especially when it comes to celebrations and business events. If you’re thinking of becoming an event photographer, you should start by strengthening your people skills and talk to businesses around your area.
From the runways in Milan to cover shots in the design districts of New York, fashion photography portfolios focus on capturing visually outstanding portraits of models wearing trendy clothes, shoes, and accessories. It’s clear that when it comes to glamour and big names, fashion photography is the place to be. However, this type of photography is as glamorous as it is difficult to enter. On top of a lot of hard work of perseverance, you’ll need a great deal of technical knowledge, an eye for fashion, and strong people skills.
Food photographers shoot everything related to, well, food. From raw ingredients and cooking to styling and food-centric scenes, these images will have you drooling all over your phone. Not that long ago food photography was a niche limited to commercial work, primarily advertising and editorial. However, thanks to social media it has become one of the fastest-growing types of photography. Instagram photography accounts of all types are full of drool-worthy images, and food-related photography hashtags accumulate millions of pictures every day.
Fine art photography
As its name indicates, fine art photography is the closest one can get to pure artistic expression in the discipline. While other genres follow certain technical and compositional rules, this type of photography focuses on the aesthetic or imaginative meaning of a scene or subject. Because of this, developing a personal photography style is incredibly important. Fine art photographers create artistic statements aimed to be displayed in galleries and sold as tangible art pieces.
Images capturing the beauty of the great outdoors, beaches, forests, peaks and deserts, are all considered landscape photography. This type of photography is usually focused on large scenes, but can also show more intimate details of natural elements. While anyone with a camera can take a picture of the view in front of them, it takes a lot of talent, technical knowledge, and hard work to capture beautiful landscape photos that allow viewers to feel as if they were part of the scene.
One of the most fulfilling sides of photography is having the opportunity to admire subjects and scenes in unimaginable ways. Such is the case with macro photography, where extreme close-ups of small objects and creatures are captured in order to obtain images in which the size of the subject is larger than in real life. While flowers and insects might be the most common figures of this type of photography, the right camera accessories will allow you to capture macro images of anything from snowflakes and jewelry to portrait and underwater photography.
Also known as portraiture, portrait photography includes any type of images focused on expressing people’s expressions and personalities. These include anything from headshots and family portraits to fine art shots and newborn photography. Generally, professionals in this type of photography own a studio where they invite clients for photoshoots.
From amateur soccer games to elite gymnastics competitions, the potential for sports photography pictures is nearly limitless. Much like becoming an actual athlete, this type of photography requires fast reflexes, good timing, perseverance, and the strength to carry a long telephoto lens. Being familiar with the sport you’re going to shoot can be a huge advantage, as it will allow you to predict certain actions in advance and capture the decisive moment.
The purpose of street photography is to capture everyday life in public with little to no interference from the photographer. The most common type is street portraiture, which has people as subjects, while the theme and style of the work is completely dependent on the photographer's choice. Due to its almost non-existent entry barrier, street photography is widely considered the best type of photography to encourage beginners to carry their camera around at all times and work on their photography skills.
The broadest among all types of photography is probably travel photography, for it comprises any other genre as long as it’s captured in a foreign country. Despite this all-embracing description, we usually use the term ‘travel photography’ to refer to the act of documenting an unfamiliar location though landscape, portrait, food, and street photography. Many list making money as a travel photographer as a dream job, a goal that is now more feasible than ever thanks to globalization and technological advancements.
Still life photography
Images that portray inanimate objects, including food, plants, beverages, household products, and a long et cetera, fall under the still life photography category. This type of photography commonly overlays through several others, such as food, commercial, and fine art photography. The end goal of still life photography is completely dependent on the project, ranging anywhere from advertising a product to selling stock photos.
Halfway between shooting portraits and wildlife, we find pet photography. Just like with human portraits, the goal of this type of photography is to capture beautiful pictures that perfectly represent the nature of beloved pets. While dogs make up most of the market demand, there is a chance you might end up working with cats, rabbits, birds, and even reptiles. If you love domestic animals as much as you love photography, this is simply the perfect professional fit. Furthermore, if this is a passion of yours, it’s possible to apply these skills to a volunteer job with a rescue organization to help your furry friends find their forever homes.
Since its first appearance in the 1850s, photojournalism has been considered one of the most impactful types of photography. Photojournalists work with newspapers, magazines, and online publications to document live events and inform the world about them. These situations can be anything from war and natural disasters to rallies and celebrations. In addition to having strong photography storytelling skills, photojournalists must always remember to remain as objective and unobtrusive as possible. After all, with great power comes great responsibility.
When it comes to making money as a photographer, wedding photography is generally a popular choice. Not only do you get to be a significant part of the happiest day of many people’s lives, but you can also make a solid photography career out of it. Of course, being a wedding photographer comes with great responsibility and a long list of technical and personal skills you'll need to master in order to succeed.
Of all types of photography, documenting animals in their natural habitats might just be the most demanding. Wildlife photography usually requires hours on end of waiting for the animals to appear, especially if you have your mind set on a certain scene or composition. Because of this, it's important to start small with something like the squirrels in the park behind your house. Then, once you’ve built the necessary skills, you can set off to the North Pole in search of polar bear cubs. Nowadays, many use wildlife photography as a tool to raise awareness about environmental issues, in hopes to push people towards taking action to solve them.