So how many types of photography are there and what type of photography should you get into?
Choosing a niche in the field of photography is not as easy as most people think. With so many different genres to explore, photography is undoubtedly a vast and dynamic industry that offers numerous opportunities to both beginners and professional photographers.
In order to gain relevance and attract a following through your work, you need to evaluate all the options available before settling on your preferred genre.
In this post, I have compiled a comprehensive guide on the different and most popular types of photography that exist today, highlighting the characteristics that differentiate them from each other. All the styles highlighted below offer exciting opportunities to grow your talent. While specializing in one genre is important, knowing more types of photography will widen your horizons and help you become a better photographer.
Let’s get started…
Types of Photography: List
Fashion photography involves shooting models in clothes and accessories to document popular fashion trends. Professional photographers who specialize in this genre often work for fashion magazines. Others choose to monetize their work through personal blogs, websites and social media.
Fashion shoots usually entail working with a team of professionals, including makeup artists, designers, and stylists. The lighting must be perfect to ensure the photos produced are of high quality.
The rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook has opened up a lot of opportunities for many people that are now able to make a living out of their social influence by sharing photos of themselves promoting clothes and accessories.
This type of photography typically uses common household pets such as dogs, cats, and birds as its primary subjects.
Just as is the case with human portraits, pet photography employs the use of special lighting and other effects to accurately capture the essence of the subject. Depending on the animal you can use different props to allow the animal to pose for the photograph.
When taking photographs of pets, a general rule of thumb is to never point the flash directly at the subject without a diffuser. Doing so is likely to cast a shadow and result in a poor image.
Likewise, similarly to what you would do with portraits of people, it is important to ensure that the eyes of the subject are in focus, and the camera should be placed above the eye level of the subject. This helps to create an impression of intimacy in the image.
Fine Art Photography
All photos (or at least many), in general, are art but fine art photography refers to something more than simply taking a beautiful shot and adjusting the colors or fine-tuning the contrast and saturation of the sky.
In this type of photography, you can use your photos as a tool for creative expression. In essence, you can use your creative skills to express an emotion, idea or message through photos.
Real estate photography is a genre that involves shooting pictures of residential and commercial properties that have been put on the market for sale.
These photos are generally meant to entice prospective buyers by showcasing the features of the property. As a professional photographer, therefore, it is important to take into consideration the lighting and camera angle in order to capture the essential elements of the property.
Setting the right price for your real estate photographs is also very crucial since a lot of preparation goes into setting up the subject of the shoot. You should, therefore, ensure that you factor in costs such as travel, property preparation, and other extra fees when calculating the cost of your images.
Adventure photography is a genre that entails capturing adventures in the great outdoors environment. This style of photography focuses on stunning landscapes such as forests, mountains, and other natural objects as its primary subjects, although personalities and human cultures are also featured. If you are an adventurous person who is not afraid of taking on the challenges that shooting in the dynamic outdoor environment poses, then this is a field that you will certainly enjoy working in.
However, there are several considerations that you need to take into account if you intend to get into adventure photography. First, you need to ensure that you have the right equipment. Adventure photography typically involves shooting in an uncontrolled and ever-changing setting. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have a lightweight camera and never forget to bring a wide-angle lens with you. This will allow you to capture panoramic landscapes more conveniently.
Adventure photographers also tend to spend significant amounts of time in the outdoors. You must be sure that you have enough storage space and batteries for your camera. You will do best to carry several replacements, as they will come in handy.
When engaging in adventure photography, you will inevitably spend significant amounts of time moving around, either by trekking across landscapes or road-tripping. For this reason, you need to invest in a solid backpack that will allow you to carry your tools. More importantly, try to minimize your luggage to ‘essentials-only’ in order to cut down on dead weight, which may pull you down unnecessarily when hiking.
Architectural photography primarily involves capturing images of the interior and exterior features of buildings, although other structures such as bridges, and cityscapes can also be featured as subjects.
While some photographers working in this genre manage to make a career out of it by shooting for advertising firms, architecture companies, and magazines, there are others who engage in architectural photography simply as an artistic pursuit or hobby.
Sport photography is undoubtedly an exciting, yet challenging genre of photography. This is because it involves shooting subjects that are in constant motion.
In most cases, like when shooting soccer, for example, the photographer has to make the decision to capture the image in a split second. This means, regardless of the camera you are using, special consideration needs to be taken when shooting in order to capture the best shot.
In sports photography, you’ll need a camera with a fast burst rate and good low light shooting capabilities. You’ll also need to master the different camera focus modes.
Sport photographers work for magazines and newspapers.
Food photography is a genre with a primary focus on food as the subject of the photographs. It overlaps with still-life, commercial photography and flat-lay and in the past, food photography was exclusively meant for recipe books or advertising.
However, with the rise of blogs and websites, this genre has been employed in many different media.
Photographers working in this area employ various techniques with the aim of striking a balance between art and reality.
If you intend to pursue the food photography genre, it is crucial not only to have a good camera and lens but you’ll also need to know how lighting works. This will enable you to capture your subjects in vivid detail.
Types of Photography: Photojournalism
Photojournalism is the use of images to tell a certain story in the news as objectively as possible. It is one of the most popular styles of photography, due to the wide array of career opportunities that it opens up to photographers. Many professional photojournalists often get employed by media companies and magazines that use their images to convey information on emerging issues across the world.
Throughout modern history, photojournalists have been instrumental in shining light about various political and social problems around the globe, including wars, racial injustices and much more.
Many of the most important photos in history fall in this category since photojournalism is the most powerful way of bringing attention to the events happening around the world.
Double exposure photography is as much a genre of photography as it is a technique. Here, the photographer overlays multiple photographs to create a single image.
The technique allows you to add more drama to your photos, create a certain mood, or even generate novel effects that are visually-striking to your viewers. Double-exposure images are particularly known for their surreal effect, which gives them a very otherworldly look.
There are different ways in which photographers can achieve double-exposure in their work. While some choose to use post-production software such as Adobe Photoshop to overlay the images, there are others who use in-built features that are found in most modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras. The choice between the two depends on your needs and preferences.
Types of Photography: Documentary Photography
This is a genre that aims to capture everyday life situations in a manner that is realistic and unfiltered. Documentary Photography, by its definition, tries not to employ the use of editing processes as well as interventions such as stage direction and management. This type of photography can be done in literally any setting, whether it’s a warzone, inner-city business hub, or other location.
In most cases, documentary photos are designed to draw attention to important yet relatively unknown events, or highlight the achievements of ordinary people to shine a light on their humanity. Documentary photos aren’t always meant to end up on the news.
Portrait photography is one of the most well-known types of photography. In fact, when most people think of photography, the first thing that comes to mind is portraiture.
This style of photography involves capturing the images of human subjects in a way that highlights their personality, mood, and feelings. Portrait photographers are usually enlisted by clients to capture their images during key events in their lives, such as graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, weddings, and many more.
Most photographers typically begin their careers in portraiture and hone their skills in this field before venturing into other genres of photography. Interestingly, you don’t need to have very expensive equipment to become a portrait photographer. As long as you have a good camera, you can start honing your portrait photography skills by capturing images of your close friends and family members.
Lifestyle photography is a subgenre of portraiture that involves capturing photos of people in everyday situations, without the subjects posing for the shots. The goal of lifestyle photography is to capture the intimate emotions and feelings of people in a natural way.
This style of photography seamlessly integrates other genres, including portrait photography, wedding photography, street photography, and many more. The subjects of lifestyle photography are often put in a specific situation or setting, where they can interact as they normally do while the photographer shoots images with the aim of capturing their emotional and physical reactions.
Wedding photography is one of the most common genres of photography today. It entails capturing images of wedding settings along with the subjects involved in a manner that reflects their emotions in a genuine way.
Wedding photography can be very challenging, as it requires the photographer to understand lighting conditions properly and know how to coordinate the subjects without interfering with the flow of the unique event. Since wedding photographers rarely ever have a choice in the setting of the wedding, they should be highly adaptable and able to work in different environments and conditions.
This style of photography involves shooting images from flying objects such as airplanes, hot-air balloons, and mainly drones. This genre of photography is often applied when studying landscapes and other wide-coverage areas. However, in recent times, many professional photographers have been practicing aerial photography when shooting weddings and other social events.
Product photography is a genre that entails shooting commercial products for advertising purposes. In this type of photography, subjects are typically photographed in a studio setting. The goal of product photography is to enhance the visual appearance of the product in order to entice people to buy it.
For a beginner, this is one of those types of photography that you can practice at home and don’t need expensive gear or set up. Just use some creativity and make sure you have shoot near a window to have a decent light.
This is a subgenre of portrait photography that focuses on capturing images of families in intimate settings. The aim of family photography is to highlight the relationship between family members, such as parents and their children, or among siblings. Family shoots can be done both outdoors as well as in-studio settings.
Most often, the photographs taken are meant to serve as mementos for family members and are usually displayed in the homes of the subjects.
Abstract photography is an artistic style of photography that entails the creation of an image that does not have any apparent relationship with a subject in the objective world. These conceptual photographs are usually generated through the use of various photographic equipment and techniques.
One of the most preferred methods of composing abstract photographs is the technique of isolating a part of a natural scene in order to remove its apparent context from the viewers of the image. Some conceptual photographers also experiment with the use of light, color, and texture to create distinct impressions, moods, or feelings.
Unlike pet photography, which aims at capturing the essence of domestic pets, wildlife photography is a genre of photography that is meant to document the lives of wild animals in their natural habitat, without the intervention of human beings. Wildlife photographers often work with animal conservation organizations and wildlife magazines.
Unlike other types of photography, to become a successful wildlife photographer, you need to have excellent field-craft skills along with photography skills. Moreover, some animals are very difficult to approach, which means you have to be conversant with their behavior, habitat, and movement/migration patterns.
This is a genre of photography that involves capturing images of people in social, political, and corporate events. Photographers working in this field often take pictures at gatherings such as music concerts, parties, and political rallies.
Given the dynamic and uncontrolled conditions of these settings, event photographers need to have excellent shooting skills in order to capture great shots in such dynamic environments. Moreover, you need to invest in a good camera that can allow you to capture important images in low light conditions.
Travel photography is a style of photography that entails shooting locations and subjects in different parts of the world. The goal of travel photography is to document the features of unfamiliar places and bring them to the consciousness of the viewers.
If you enjoy traveling around the world, this is one of those types of photography that will give you a great way to indulge in your hobby, capture images that you can preserve as memories of your globe-trotting adventures.
Newborn photography is a style of photography that involves capturing images of newborn babies. This can be done either with or without the parent of the baby in the image. Unlike in most other genres of photography, special care needs to be taken to ensure the safety of the subject throughout the process.
Types of Photography: Astrophotography
The aim of astrophotography is to capture and record celestial objects such as stars and planets. In cases where telescopes are used, images of distant objects such as nebula clouds and black holes can also be captured in great detail and clarity.
Therefore, in order to succeed in this genre, you need to invest in lenses with a wide aperture.
Golden Hour, in photography, refers to the period shortly after sunrise and before sunset, when the light is ‘less harsh’ than during the daytime. Cinematographers usually refer to this time as the ‘magic hour.’ During this period, the sun is usually lower in the sky than at any other time during the day, and the light is typically reddish-orange in hue.
Shooting during the golden hour doesn’t only happen for landscapes but also with other types of photography such as portrait, street or architecture photography.
The warm lighting and long shadows provide great conditions for shooting visually striking and magical images that would otherwise be impossible to achieve during other times in the day.
Landscape photography involves capturing images of natural features in the outdoor world. Some of the common subjects in this style of photography include mountains, forests, and seascapes. Landscape photographs are meant to document the wonders of the natural world, and many photographers working in this style contribute their images to travel and adventure magazines.
Just as the name suggests, this is a genre that entails capturing images at night. It includes astrophotography but it goes beyond the aim of shooting the night sky. The main subjects can by cityscapes, car light trails, the moon or any light sources that create interesting effects.
This is a genre of photography that focuses on capturing random encounters with people in public spaces. While most street photographs tend to be shot in actual streets or urban environments, this is not a prerequisite.
Additionally, street photography doesn’t always require the presence of human subjects. Photographers working in this style often capture images of empty streets in order to draw attention to the objects and features of urban life such as shops, cinemas, and apartment buildings.
Long exposure photography is a technique that involves leaving the shutter of the camera open for longer periods of time. This allows you to create a blur effect on moving objects while the stationary ones remain clear and sharp.
Among all the types of photography, long exposure photography is one of those that makes you feel like a pro when you hone it.
There isn’t really a time limit for long exposure images, which means you can have the shutter speed as slow as your camera allows you to.
If you intend to take long exposure images, one of the most basic requirements (apart from your camera) is a tripod stand. This allows you to stabilize your camera for as long as you want in order to avoid going out of focus when shooting long exposure photos.
This is a genre of photography that involves extremely close-up shots of small objects to make them appear life-sized in the frame. Some of the most popular subjects of macro photography include living organisms such as flowers and insects. However, inanimate objects are also photographed in this style.
Usually, a macro lens is used in this genre due to its high magnification. This allows the minute details of the subject to be captured in the image.
One of my favorite types of photography, this is a subgenre or landscape photography, and it focuses on capturing the dynamic nature of large water bodies such as seas and oceans.
There are plenty of techniques that photographers may apply when capturing shots of seascapes. Reducing the shutter speed, for example, allows for the motion of the water to be traced on the image, and provides a contrast to the land on the shore.
Many photographers also incorporate this genre of photography with other styles. For instance, some photographers prefer to shoot seascapes during the golden hour in order to create a surreal effect.
Still Life Photography
Still life is a genre of photography that has developed out of a style of painting of the same name. It entails shooting common everyday objects, that are arranged in a particular formation.
Some of the most common subjects of still life include harvested fruits, kitchen utensils, and potted plants. While the subjects of this genre are very ordinary, the aim of the photography is to bring them to life using a variety of techniques and effects such as lighting,
This genre often overlaps with other styles, including food photography and product photography.
Underwater photography involves capturing images while submerged under a water body such as an ocean, sea or swimming pool. This style of photography is often carried out for practical reasons such as studying the animal and plant life in the ocean, or for artistic purposes. It can also be combined with other genres such as portraiture.
Special water-proof cameras are typically used in this genre. These cameras are generally wearable or attachable in order to allow for hands-free operation, thus enabling the photographer to swim through the water as they take photos.
Urban Decay Photography
This is a genre that focuses on old, abandoned buildings as subjects. It is meant to highlight the eerie feeling that rundown buildings tend to evoke in the absence of human activity.
So Which Type of Photography Should You Choose?
Well, here is what you need to consider…
Photography, as you will no doubt agree, is a very wide field with plenty of styles to choose from. Whether you are interested in capturing images of people or landscapes, you can definitely find a particular style that matches your interests and skills.
The best thing you can do is to experiment with different types of photography to find out the ones that interest you the most before deciding where to specialize in.
And as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of career opportunities available in all the different genres of photography. So get started today.
It’s your turn now.
What is your favorite type of photography?
Let me know in the comment section below and if you liked this article share it with your friends now.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.