We are bombarded with visual imagery, from every angle, all the time. They are on your social media platforms, on any website you visit, any TV channel you turn over to. They are even in our newspapers and magazines.
Understanding the different genres or types of photography will help. Your photographic knowledge will develop and grow. This is why we’ve made a list of them so you can familiarise yourself with every photography niche.
Abstract or conceptual photography
are images that you don’t have an immediate association with. They stand out from the object world.
The use of photographic equipment, processes or materials are important. They are what makes these images possible.
Anything adventure, photographed in the outdoors, goes in here.
This is very much a niche photographic area. It includes stunning landscapes and challenging shooting conditions.
Architecture Photography involves photographing buildings and structures. They are accurate representations of the subjects, captured using specialized cameras and techniques.
And if you’ve ever wondered what that tilt-shift lens is for, well, now you know.
Astrophotography records objects in the night sky.
It includes Deep Sky, which is the capturing of faraway subjects using a telescope. The Solar System is the act of photographing subjects in our solar system.
Wide Angle (Milky Way) and Time-Lapse (star trail) photography are also included.
Black and white photography is the act of capturing a scene without color. Here, you capture the scene in black and white or convert it during post-processing.
This also covers low key monochrome images which use lighting in a very minimalist way.
Boudoir photography is capturing intimate and romantic images of its subjects. They take place in a bedroom or dressing room environment.
The intended use of these is for the enjoyment of the subject and his or her romantic partners. They can be given as a gift to a partner on the occasion of an engagement or wedding.
Candid photography is the act of capturing subjects without their knowledge.
Here, you can be sure of unposed subjects, resulting in real scenes and facial expressions.
A cityscape is a representation of the physical aspects of a city, metropolis or urban area.
This is the urban equal of a landscape. They can show a city during day or night. Even incorporating many different techniques and perspectives.
Commercial photography involves taking pictures for commercial use. They can be used to promote or sell a product or service.
Here, photographers are often commissioned or paid beforehand.
Examples include photographs for corporate brochures, menus, and leaflets.
Composite photography is the combining of visual elements from separate sources. Together, they create a resulting single image. This creates an illusion that all these separate elements are part of the same scene.
This area covers double exposures (layering of two or more images), montages (a scene photographed in smaller parts) and multiplicity (capturing a single person multiple times in the same scene).
Focus stacking is also a form of composite photography. This is where a scene is captured at different focal points. When stitched they create a large depth of field.
Creative photography is a wide area of photography where creativity takes the lead. The concept or techniques used are just as important as the final image.
These can include crystal ball photography, HDR imaging, fisheye photography, cake smash, and forced perspective photography.
Documentary photography refers to a type of photography used to chronicle events or environments.
They tend to be both significant and relevant to history and historical events. These images focus on everyday life.
Drone or aerial photography is the action of photographing from an airborne object. This can include, but not exclusive to helicopters, planes and drones.
These images are photographed from up-down. Or they utilise an angle to create abstract or realistic images of the landscape.
Editorial photographs are images captured for use in newspapers and magazines.
These are candid images and can incorporate fashion, sports, and event photography.
Event photography is the practice of photographing guests and scenarios at any event or occasion.
These include weddings, product releases, parties, carnivals, corporate photography and live concert photography.
Family photography is the act of photographing a family in portrait situations. The images show the relationship between those you shoot.
They can be staged and posed, or candid images to reflect the atmosphere and mood. They are for the family themselves to enjoy.
Fashion photography is the act of photographing displayed clothing and other items. It can happen in studio conditions or at live catwalk and fashion shows.
The images are for editorial or advertisement uses.
Fine art photography is where the photographer is the artist. Here, the capturing of the subject is not the main purpose.
These images can be artistic statements. They have a stronger concept than the same image photographed in a traditional style.
Food photography is a niche area of still life photography. In this area, we concentrate on food, ingredients, styling and food-related scenes.
This is also a niche of commercial or editorial photography. The images here become advertisements in magazines.
Golden hour photography refers to the hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise.
This is when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. The sunlight isn’t as harsh as other times of the day and gives off a warm tone.
Indoor photography refers to images captured inside. Here, the photographer needs to use camera settings or gear to help account for the lack of ambient light.
Indoor photography is similar to interior photography. these are without a specific editorial or commercial aim.
Infrared photography refers to an image where harnessing the infrared light is important. It can take place with analog or digital photography. The infrared light passes through to the camera sensor, blocking the other visible light.
You will need a filter for this. Or you can create it using post-processing software.
Landscape photography is the capturing of nature. They can be man-made features or the disturbances found in physical areas.
These can include tree photography, nature, deserts and beaches. They focus on the outdoors during specific seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter).
Sunsets and even night photography are also popular in this genre.
Lifestyle photography is a genre that aims to capture people in real-life situations. They tell stories, rather than to show an obvious and staged set-up.
These images are often staged as much as a fashion shoot. They show scenes and items for editorial or commercial uses.
Here, we present these subjects in a more natural, believable way.
Long exposure photography is capturing a scene with a long shutter speed setting. This allows you to capture stationary elements of a scene while blurring or obscuring the moving elements.
These are possible during daytime or nighttime.
Macro photography refers to photographing tiny subjects up close. Here, we use specialised lenses or photographic equipment. A true macro image comes from enlarging a subject bigger than its 1:1 ratio.
Perhaps the most popular macro subjects are insects and flowers. But there is so much more beyond that.
Milky way photography refers to photographing the milky way. Here, we use a camera that works well in low light conditions while allowing us to keep the resolution of the image high.
One trick to try is including landscapes in the foreground of these images.
Minimalist photography refers to capturing a scene using the least amount of visual elements. These components can include, yet not exclusive to color, texture, lines, and forms.
Mobile, or smartphone photography refers to all photography captured using your mobile or cell phone.
And when we say all, we do mean all. From fashion to food to macro, your phone is a versatile tool.
Newborn photography is the capturing of a newborn baby. This can be with or without other members of the family.
This is the only area of photography where safety is the number one element. The photographer is responsible for the safety and welfare of the subject.
Photographers often composite images to create interesting scenes. Images that give the impression that the baby is alone are a popular technique.
Night photography refers to all photography taken at nighttime. Here, the photographer needs to use different camera settings, techniques and gear to capture low lit scenes.
They can incorporate long-exposures and time-lapses.
Astrophotography is also possible with such specializations as light-painting and spiral photography.
Photojournalism is the act of communicating news using photographic images. The primary use of these images are in magazines, using an editorial platform. They also incorporate still life, candid photography, documentary and war photography.
Travel, street, portrait and architecture are just a few. These genres cross-over to make photojournalism possible.
Portrait photography is the act of photographing people. Here, we look at their physical expressions and features. These include self-portraits, silhouettes and high-key (using well-lit scenes) images.
Also, faceless captures (guillotine method) and environmental portraits are also possible.
This is a branch of commercial photography, where we capture an object for advertisement uses. You may find these images in catalogs and brochures, or online.
These include jewellery and water splash images, to name a few.
Real estate photography is capturing a property for commercial or editorial reasons. Here, lighting techniques and use of camera gear are very important.
This genre includes interior photography. This is where we only capture the inside of the house. We can all guess what exterior photography means.
Seascape, or ocean photography is a niche of landscape photography. Here, the sea or ocean is the main focus. Other possibilities are shooting people, boats, islands or other geographical objects such as rock formations and cliffs.
Coastal photography is also included in this genre.
Social media photography is the act of sharing your images on social media platforms. They include, yet not exclusive to Instagram and Facebook. These images can be editorial, still-life or fashion photography, to name a few.
Or they can be part of commercial campaigns. All types of photography have the capacity to be social media photography images.
Sports photography is the act of photographing all kinds of sports. These can be fast-action sports, such as car racing and airshows. they can be more relaxed, such as marathon and yoga photography.
Different sports require different camera gear, lenses, settings and techniques.
Still-life photography is the act of photographing arranged inanimate objects to create a pleasing scene. Food or floral photography is an example of still-life photography.
Street photography refers to images taken on or from the street. Looking at the everyday lives of people in public places is the general focus. This is also known as urban photography if the primary location is an urban or city setting.
This genre incorporates portraiture, architecture and candid photography.
Time-lapse photography is a type of photography where a succession of images are of the same scene. The purpose is to show the scene in a state of fluctuation. These images will show all changes in a scene through the created video.
These take place during daytime or nighttime (incorporating both is a ‘holy grail’).
Travel photography is the act of documenting an area or location through the application of photography. This incorporates portraiture, landscapes, street and nighttime photography.
National Geographic and professional photographers such as Steve McCurry made this genre famous. They utilise both colour and black and white photography.
Urban exploration or urbex photography is the act of photographing abandoned places and spaces. This genre incorporates architectural and interior photography.
This type of photography is exciting due to its dangerous and legally ambiguous nature. Research is very important in this niche.
This involves photographing armed conflicts and its effects on places and people. It is a form of documentary photography and photojournalism. The resulting images are for editorial use.
Wedding photography includes all activities relating to weddings. It will encompass portraiture, family photography, posing and even drone photography.
They can be black and white images, and include specific props and gear, such as a photo booth.