As a passionate photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of diving deep into various types of photography. From creative product shoots and the raw authenticity of street photography to my favorite: the genuine emotion conveyed in portrait photography.
Each photography genre provides a unique avenue for expressing creativity and capturing beauty. In my opinion, exploring different genres of photography not only sharpens your skills but also broadens your perspective as a photographer.
This article aims to introduce these genres in photography and provide valuable tips to improve your craft. So let’s dive into it!
39 Photography Genres You Should Know About
Different types of photography require unique techniques, considerations, and equipment; each can express something distinct about our world. Here are the main types of photography genres you need to know:
Landscape photography is about capturing the beauty of nature in its most raw form, catching images of natural scenery, often vast and sweeping, where the emphasis is on the land’s beauty, majesty, or grandeur.
It’s a genre that teaches patience, as the perfect shot often relies on natural elements like light, weather, and timing. Landscape photographers may have to spend hours or even days in a location to capture the perfect shot at the ideal moment.
In landscape photography, you can use many accessories to improve your photos, like a tripod to ensure your photo is sharp and a polarizing filter to cut down reflections, haze, and scattered light.
Portrait photography, on the other hand, is all about capturing the character and soul of a person or group. It is a genre where the photographer’s interaction with the subject is crucial.
As famous portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz once said, “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” This quote has always resonated with me as it underscores the importance of connecting with your subject in portrait photography.
Some aspects are vital in conveying a beautiful portrait:
- Using natural light.
- Finding the ideal location.
- Making the model feel at ease.
- Thinking the shot before
- Using unique props or things that highlight the personality of the people you’re photographing
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Street photography is about capturing life in its unfiltered form. This photography genre, I believe, challenges one’s spontaneity and observation skills, as it requires the photographer to find exciting moments in everyday street scenes, and its practitioners must be quick, discreet, and observant.
Street photographers tell stories about people and their environments, evoking a sense of time and place. This often requires taking long walks around the city – and simply seeing what happens around you.
Although it shares similarities with landscape photography, nature photography focuses more on the intimate details of the natural world. It might feature animals, plants, or even small landscapes.
It demands a high level of patience and often requires the photographer to be comfortable in potentially challenging outdoor situations.
In this genre, photographers aim to capture the beauty, details, or dramatic aspects of buildings and structures. This could be new, sleek, modern designs or decaying and forgotten old buildings.
It requires a keen eye for lines, shapes, and patterns and an understanding of how light interacts with different materials and surfaces. You also have to understand perspective and how to use it to capture buildings interestingly.
The basic elements in architecture photography include good composition, consistent color temperature, shooting with a narrow f-stop, and ensuring the photo looks “clean.”
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This is about capturing the key moments, intense actions, or emotions in sports. It’s a challenging field, requiring specialist equipment (with fast autofocus and high frame rates), excellent timing, thorough preparation before the event, and a deep understanding of the sports being photographed to anticipate what will happen next.
Abstract photography can be hard to grasp, especially for more practical photographers, but here are some great tips and tricks. If you still feel lost, start by getting inspired by other famous photographers’ styles and perspectives.
Astrophotography is the art of capturing images of the night sky and celestial bodies. They can range from capturing wide-field photos of the Milky Way to using telescopes to photograph planets, galaxies, and nebulae in detail.
It requires long exposure times, tracking mounts, and often post-processing software to reveal the details in the captured images.
This genre involves blending two or more photos to create a single image, usually to create a surreal or dreamlike scene that couldn’t exist in reality. It requires not just photography skills but also significant editing and digital manipulation skills.
An example would be an image blending a cityscape with a forest, creating an intriguing urban-nature hybrid scene.
This photography genre captures moments, people, and atmospheres at concerts, parties, weddings, birthdays, or conferences. The photographer needs to be able to anticipate moments, often in difficult lighting conditions, and work quickly and unobtrusively to capture them.
This genre emphasizes storytelling and capturing the action behind what is happening.
This genre is about telling a story or supporting a text, usually for newspapers, magazines, or websites. The images need to be both aesthetically pleasing and relevant to the story.
They often need to capture the essence of a situation or event and can involve elements of portrait, landscape, and street photography.
An example is a series of photos documenting people’s lives in a refugee camp – accompanying a news article.
Wedding photographers have the crucial job of documenting one of the most significant days in a couple’s life.
This photography genre requires versatility, as it can involve elements of portrait photography (for shots of the couple and guests), event photography (for the ceremony and reception), and even product photography (for details like the rings and the cake).
This genre focuses on capturing images of products in an attractive and accurate way, often for commercial purposes such as advertising or online sales. It requires planning a product shot and a good understanding of lighting. It usually involves photographing objects on backgrounds that minimize distractions, but you can get creative when shooting.
Photographers often use prime lenses, but a macro lens for product photography can reveal your object’s unique details.
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I wrote a lot about product photography in my blog because my wife is a professional product photographer. Here’s one article in particular, which I recommend you check out if you are interested in product photography and want to build a product photography portfolio.
This is one of the most popular types of photography – and it’s no surprise because everybody loves traveling.
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This photography genre includes many other genres, such as street, landscape, portrait, and architectural photography elements. It requires adaptability and openness to unexpected opportunities, as travel can be unpredictable.
This genre is about capturing the beauty and mystery of life beneath the water’s surface. You must use special equipment, housings, and glass to protect your camera from water and compensate for the unique underwater lighting conditions. It also often involves diving skills, marine life and ecosystems knowledge, and patience to wait for the perfect shot.
Macro photography involves taking close-up photos of small subjects so that they appear life-sized or more prominent in the picture. Typical subjects include insects, flowers, and small objects.
It requires a macro lens or similar equipment, careful focusing, and often a tripod to prevent camera shake due to the close focusing distances.
This genre involves taking photos from an elevated position, often from a drone, helicopter, or airplane. The high perspective can provide unique and dramatic views of landscapes, cityscapes, or events.
It requires understanding how to operate drones or other flight systems safely and legally and compose effectively from a high angle.
This genre serves research and documentation purposes rather than primarily aiming for aesthetic appeal.
You need specialized equipment and knowledge related to the scientific field in question.
Pet photography focuses on capturing the character and personality of animals. It’s similar to portrait photography but with the unique challenges and rewards of working with non-human subjects.
It requires patience, fast reflexes, and an understanding of animal behavior to capture the animal at the right moment.
Real Estate Photography
Real estate photography is a type of indoor photography that aims to capture properties in an appealing way to attract potential buyers.
It often involves photographing both the interior and exterior of properties and requires understanding how to use lighting, angle, and composition to make spaces look inviting and spacious.
Food photography is all about making food look delicious and appealing. It often involves careful staging, food styling, and lighting and potentially using techniques specific to food, such as glycerin to simulate condensation on glass.
It’s commonly used in advertising, menus, cookbooks, and food blogs.
This genre translated into capturing images of animals in their natural habitats, showcasing their behaviors, interactions, and inherent beauty. It’s a challenging field that needs considerable patience and sometimes endurance to cope with harsh or unpredictable outdoor conditions.
Wildlife photography often uses telephoto lenses to maintain a safe distance from wild animals. The goal here isn’t just to document but also to raise awareness about the value and diversity of our planet’s wildlife.
Fashion photography is an exciting and dynamic photography genre that centers around showcasing fashion items like clothing, accessories, and beauty products. It involves collaborating with models, stylists, and makeup artists to create images that express the latest trends and styles. It often involves controlled environments such as studio settings, though outdoor shoots are standard.
Fashion photographers must have a keen eye for detail, color, and composition to create compelling images that catch the viewer’s eye in a magazine, billboard, or social media. They often push boundaries, using creative and innovative techniques to create striking, high-impact images.
This genre shows off in images with a wide field of view, often presenting a 360-degree view of a scene. These images can be created by stitching together a series of photos using software or with special cameras. Panoramic photography often includes landscape and cityscape subjects but can be used for unique perspectives on any scene.
Documentary photography uses images to tell a story about a particular subject or event, often with a social or political message. The goal is to represent the subject and provide a historical record accurately. It requires honesty, objectivity, and a solid commitment to the truth.
Ethical considerations in documentary photography are crucial as photographers must respect their subjects’ rights and dignity, avoid misrepresentation, be respectful, and maintain objectivity, all while responsibly narrating the truth of their subjects’ circumstances.
This is the urban equivalent of landscape photography. It involves capturing images of city skylines, urban settings, architectural features, and the hustle and bustle of city life. The challenge here is to bring out the unique character and personality of the city, whether it’s a sprawling metropolis or a quaint town.
This photography genre focuses on capturing images during the ‘golden hours’ around sunrise and sunset. The warm, diffused light during these times can result in some of the most dramatically beautiful and visually pleasing photographs, with rich colors and long shadows.
Child photography is about capturing children’s innocence, energy, and emotions at various stages of their growth. An example would be the image of the boy in the park blowing bubbles.
It requires patience, flexibility, and the ability to build rapport with children quickly.
Props, games, using outdoor natural light, and playful interaction are all essential to elicit a natural reaction and result.
Newborn photography is a specialized photography genre that focuses on capturing the first few days or weeks of a newborn’s life. It often involves posed shots where the baby sleeps, with carefully chosen props and backgrounds. Safety, warmth, and comfort for the baby are paramount considerations in this genre.
Family photography is about capturing groups of people who have significant relationships. These shoots can range from formal portraits to candid moments. The challenge here is to depict the group’s relationship dynamics and individual personalities by creating a relaxed environment where the family can be themselves.
This genre focuses on the artistic representation of the naked human body. It requires a strong understanding of lighting and composition to capture the form, textures, and contours of the human body in a respectful, aesthetic, and non-exploitative manner.
Boudoir photography captures intimate, romantic, and sometimes erotic images, usually in a bedroom or private setting. The goal is often to celebrate the subject’s body and boost their confidence.
As with nude photography, you need heaps of sensitivity, respect, and professionalism to do this type of photography.
Music photography involves capturing images related to music and its performance, including live concert shots, behind-the-scenes photos and posed promotional shots. Challenges include dealing with poor lighting, moving subjects, and often unpredictable environments.
Self-portraits are about photographers turning the camera on themselves, often revealing something about their inner life or personal experiences. It can be a form of self-expression or self-exploration – a visual personal diary.
You can use creative staging, lighting, and editing techniques – to convey mood, emotion, and narrative.
Fine Art Photography
Fine art photography is about using photographs to express the artist’s creative vision. This is a highly subjective genre; the primary consideration is not commercial or practical use but the artist’s intent and the viewer’s interpretation.
It often involves unusual compositions, abstract subjects, or unique editing styles that serve to express the photographer’s message or evoke emotion in the viewer.
When it comes to minimalism, less is more. The photographer uses minimal compositional elements: perhaps just a single subject, a simple pattern, or a clear color palette. The goal is to create an image that’s straightforward yet compelling, eliminating any unnecessary distractions to focus the viewer’s attention on the critical elements of the photograph.
This type of photography includes scenes from the imagination, often with a surreal, dreamlike, or fantastical quality. It might involve elaborate costumes, props, staged settings, and – more importantly – significant post-processing to create the final image.
This genre allows photographers to break away from the constraints of reality and create their own worlds.
Long-exposure photography can be achieved by using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of an image while blurring or smearing the moving parts.
It is mostly used for shooting landscapes and astronomical photography to capture things like flowing water or moving stars, but you can also use it creatively (sometimes even for portraits).
This type of photography requires understanding how different shutter speeds affect an image and often requires a tripod to prevent camera shaking during long exposure.
Black and White Photography
This is one of my favorite photography genres. It focuses on the power of shapes, forms, lines, and contrasts without the distraction of color. Black and white photography can often reveal the texture and form of a subject in a way that color can’t, resulting in timeless and emotive images.
It’s used across many genres, from landscape to portrait to abstract photography. Converting a photo to black and white can often reveal a new perspective or mood that wasn’t apparent in color.
Most photographers usually changed their colored images to black and white, so this genre also requires some good b&w editing skills.
Exploring different genres of photography is a fascinating journey. It not only diversifies your portfolio but also helps you grow as an artist. Now that we’ve seen what are the types of photography genres, all you have to do is get out there!
The best photographers aren’t those with the most expensive equipment but those who know how to see and capture the beauty in its many forms. In the words of celebrated photographer Dorothea Lange, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
As a photographer, I suggest embracing the learning process and trying all types of photography at least once.
Throughout this exploration of different types of photography, remember to take advantage of the power of post-processing, which can transform your photos from good to great. And lastly, share your work with others, as feedback is a powerful tool for growth.
Most importantly, keep shooting, as every shot brings you one step closer to that perfect picture. And if you need more guidance, check out our articles on OhMyCamera.