The basic principle of photography is that you use a camera to capture a photograph. It couldn’t be more straightforward. But photography is actually a broad genre that branches off into many separate disciplines.
There are many different types of photography. And if you’re picking up a camera for the first time, it can be confusing. There are so many styles and categories that you might not know which to choose.
Expert Photography is here to give you all the information you need. We’ll use this article to detail all the types of photography you should know. There are links to more in-depth articles on each subject so you can explore with confidence.
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59 Types of Photography You Need to Know
59 types of photography might seem like a lot to get your head around. But we’ve broken the list down into separate categories for easy digestion.
We’re starting the list with the types of photography defined by the camera you use—mainly digital and film. We’ll then look at people photography. This category looks at all the types of photography that involve people as the main subject.
The next step on our photography journey is nature photography. This theme looks at photography types that turn the lens to this wonderful world. The following capture dives into reportage photography. They’re the types of photography that involve exploration and discovery.
Artistic photography is the next step on our journey. The artistic types of photography search for aesthetic beauty and purity of image. And they often involve special photography techniques.
The final section of our list is photography for business. Any type of photography can become your business, but this section looks at the types of photography used to sell products or services.
Different Camera Types for Photography
While you can use any type of camera for any kind of photography, there are differences worth noting. These will help you decide which photography path you want to take.
Beyond producing amazing images, digital cameras offer many conveniences for busy photographers. You’re not limited to 36 shots per roll, like analog cameras. You can shoot hundreds of shots, only worrying about filling your SD card.
Digital photography also has more editing options. Shooting in RAW gives you incredible options in an editing suite. You can enhance, adjust, and manipulate any characteristic you like.
Film photography looked like it was on the way out. Digital was taking over the world. But film is far from dead, and the analog revival is well underway.
Photographers of all types are returning to film. While many were turned off by the limitations and quirks of analog photography, the modern film shooter sees them as part of the fun.
Film photography has a magical quality digital can’t replicate. There’s a chemical reaction when light hits the film emulsion. And there’s a mystery when you have to wait to see the results. You can’t check and re-shoot after every shot. You have to trust your skills and hope for the best.
3. Pinhole Photography
With pinhole photography, you don’t even need a camera. You can make your own pinhole camera using an old tin or container. You need something lightproof, then make a hole with a pin in the side. You also need a piece of tape to put over the hole. But that’s your basic camera.
In a darkroom, place a piece of photo paper in your homemade camera. Close the lid and cover the hole with tape. Go outside and find something to take a picture of. Make sure the hole is facing the scene and remove the tape.
The light will go through the hole and expose the paper. After a second or two, cover the hole back up with the tape. Return to the darkroom and develop the paper. That’s it!
This section looks at the types of photography with people as their main subjects. People play a huge part in our lives, so these are some of the most popular and profitable types of photography.
Portrait photography is one of the oldest types of photography. Since the invention of the camera, it’s been used to capture the characters of history.
The technology has changed, but portraiture remains one of the most popular types of photography. We love personal stories. And there aren’t many art forms more personal than portrait photography.
Portrait photography is a feature of other types of photography. Portrait photographers use portraits for fashion and fantasy photography. You’ll also find portraits in photojournalism and documentary photography.
With the rise of social media, self-portrait photography lost some of its reputation. The self-portrait became the selfie. And now it’s associated with Instagram more than with the National Portrait Gallery.
But self-portraits still deserve our attention. They’re an excellent way of exploring yourself and creating characters. Here are some fabulous self-portrait photographers to get you inspired.
A wedding is a special day in people’s lives. And the bride and groom want excellent photos as a reminder of that magical day. This is something people will pay for if it’s done well.
Sports are played by thousands and watched by millions. And the more popular sport becomes, the more sports photographers are needed.
Sports photography is about capturing the action on the field, track, or pitch. There’s a lot of skill in capturing the highs and lows of the sporting drama. You have to know your sport. And you need the correct settings on your camera.
Music photography can involve shooting live concerts or festivals. Or perhaps you might be doing promotional shots for a band or artist. Music photography work can be published in magazines and online. Or it can be used for album artwork.
Music photography can be great fun if you’re a music fan. Play your cards right, and you could get a front-row seat or a backstage pass. But it’s hard work, so you need to be dedicated.
Events photography can overlap with other photography types. But events photography deserves its own section because it requires a broad skillset. Event photographers cover many different events, from music festivals to athletics championships.
Events photographers are a versatile bunch. They need to be able to shoot a speaking event on Tuesday and an art fair on Wednesday. The gig can be any event, so they need to be ready with their camera.
Fashion photography is a blend of portrait and product photography. But it’s much more than taking pictures of models in clothes. It’s about creating images that portray a lifestyle. It’s not just the clothes, it’s the person wearing them.
A fashion photographer might photograph models on a catwalk. Or they might be developing concepts for advertising campaigns. The fashion industry looks fun and glamorous, but being a fashion photographer is hard work.
Family photography is big business. Many families want to treasure moments with the ones they love. And the family photographer needs to create those magic moments with their camera.
Family photography can involve portraits at home or in a studio. Or they can be candid shots in a special location. Sometimes it will be the whole family, and other times it will be the parents or the siblings together. It often depends on what the family wants. But there’s plenty of room for creative family photo ideas too.
Child photography can be the most fun and the most stressful job in the world. But if you can cope with an occasional tantrum or crying fit, child photography is a rewarding profession.
Perhaps I’m stating the obvious to say child photographers have to be good with kids. But they also need to enjoy their company. This will put everyone in a good mood. And you’ll be able to create photos the parents will treasure.
Newborn photography is different from child photography. It requires a separate set of skills and considerations. Kids can be loud, energetic, and boisterous. But newborns are far more fragile and you need a delicate touch.
You can have lots of fun with newborn photoshoots. You can go for candid shots with the new parents. Or you can get creative with sets and cute costumes. And it’s a viable business option as parents are keen to snap those brief early moments.
Headshot photography does have a lot in common with portrait photography. But headshots are specifically for professional purposes.
They’re photos used by actors and young professionals on their profiles and applications. And people will pay good money for quality headshots.
This type of photography is for the grown-ups. Boudoir photography is the art of taking sexy and sensual photos. But they don’t have to be explicit. Boudoir often includes lingerie, so there’s a crossover between fashion and product photography.
Boudoir photography is about making the subject look and feel sexy, no matter who they are. You could be working with professional models. Or it could be a client wanting to spice up their relationship.
Glamor photography is more explicit than boudoir. It’s also sexy and sensual, but it leaves less to the imagination. It usually involves female models. And the main aim is sex appeal.
Despite the demise of institutions like Playboy, lads mags, and Page 3, glamor photography is having a revival. Young photographers like Peggy Shoots Film are indulging in its flashy nature. They’ve gone full kitsch with an in-your-face aesthetic.
The next category looks at types of photography centered around the natural world. Earth is a beautiful place. And many types of photography celebrate landscapes, flora, and fauna.
Landscape photography is the study of the textured surface of the Earth. And it features images of natural scenes from all over the globe. Landscape photos can capture deserts, rocky mountains, or lush hillsides. They can be grand or more intimate images.
Landscape photography is as old as the camera itself and is one of the first types of photography. And it’s still one of the most popular types of photography. You can advance your landscape photography with a bit of editing too.
Wildlife photography looks at the wonderful subject of animals in the wild. This type of photography involves patience and concentration. And when wildlife photography is done well, the photos can be magical.
Only the lucky few get to travel to exotic locations to see the greatest beasts in the wild. Wildlife photographers allow us to see magnificent creatures from the most remote locations. Without them, we’d never see an elephant or a tiger in the wild.
19. Bird Photography
Bird photography may sound like a section of wildlife photography. And birds are wildlife. But many fantastic photographers dedicate themselves to the documentation of birds in the wild.
Bird photography requires precision with the camera and a lot of patience. And when you get it right, the results are fantastic. Birds are some of the most interesting and beautiful creatures in the natural world. And bird photography is a celebration of that.
20. Pet Photography
Pet photography isn’t strictly nature photography. Pets are domesticated, and the discipline has a heavy overlap with family photography. But despite being our friends and companions, our pets are animals too.
Dog portraits are very popular with dog owners. These can be the dog on their own, or it can include other pets. They can even include members of the family. But pet photography isn’t limited to dogs. You can’t forget the cats, ferrets, rabbits and tortoises.
Macro photography is the art of photographing the minuscule. By using a special macro lens, you can capture even the smallest creatures with your camera.
Macro photography isn’t exclusive to nature photography. You can use macro lenses to document anything. But it is commonly used to study insects and other tiny lifeforms.
I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite like a beautiful sunset. But sunsets don’t last long, so you need to take the picture before you’re left in darkness.
Capturing the beauty of a sunset in a digital image isn’t easy. They can often appear flat and dull. Sunset photography requires skill, patience, and knowledge. That’s why sunset photography is considered a unique type of photography.
Ocean photography is a subcategory of landscape photography. But this type of photography focuses on the beauty of seas and oceans rather than land.
Seas, oceans, and coastal areas offer an excellent variety of scenes. And the behavior of the seas are ever-changing, so the possibilities are endless. You can shoot ocean photography looking out from the land or from a boat. And drones give you another option for shooting the sea.
Taking photos underwater can have amazing results. The underwater landscape is full of beauty. And the slower motion of life and the different physics give it a magical quality.
Underwater photography isn’t easy, and you need special skills and underwater equipment. But if you love the water, it’s a type of photography you have to try.
Technically, cityscapes aren’t part of the natural world. But cityscape photography finds beauty in a man-made world.
It has a similar concept to landscape photography, using similar settings and compositions. But this type of photography looks at the beauty in the unnatural. Night cityscape photography is another sub-genre worth looking at.
Aerial photography is the art of taking photos from the air. The photographer has a bird’s eye view from a plane or helicopter. They take photos of the Earth directly below, and the photos are often used for investigating or creating maps.
Aerial photography used to be inaccessible to most photographers. But the invention of the drone changed that.
Drones opened up a new world of possibilities for photographers. Now they can capture stunning aerial photography shots without your feet leaving the ground. With the camera attached to a flying drone, you can achieve images that were once impossible.
As drones become cheaper and more accessible, drone photography has increased in popularity.
Astrophotography looks directly at the night sky, capturing the stars and nebulae that populate our universe. Scientists use this type of photography to study the cosmos. And it’s also a pursuit of keen amateurs that have a passion for stars.
The results can be spectacular. But astrophotography requires specialist skills and knowledge. As well as the correct camera settings, you’ll need lenses and filters that enable you to shoot the night sky.
Panorama photography is a branch of landscape photography. But it extends the limits of the frame, creating an ultra-wide-angle view of the scene.
This category looks at the types of photography we use to explore and document the world. They’re the types of photography that involve human stories. And the photographers plying their trade in these areas show us news from around the world and inspire us to venture out ourselves.
Photojournalism is journalism reported through the lens of a camera. Photojournalists use images rather than words to tell their stories. And thanks to them, we can view the world’s major events from our sofas.
The paparazzi boom of the ’90s and ’00s damaged the reputation of photojournalism. But photojournalists still play an important role in news media today. Without them, we’d be blind to much of what happens across the globe.
Documentary photography has some overlap with photojournalism. But documentary photography creates narratives using photos. Photojournalism reports on stories as they happen. And documentary photography dives into themes and ideas, looking for stories.
Visual documentaries can involve lots of other types of photography. Many documentary photographers use portraits to add a human element to their narrative. Others look for candid shots for a natural feel to their storytelling.
Street photography is one of the most popular types of photography. Millions of photographers around the world love to document what they see in the streets.
Street photography is about capturing the real life of the street. They’re candid photos documenting life in towns and cities. But unlike documentary photography or photojournalism, there’s no story. Street photography isn’t about narrative. The photographer is simply an observer of the present, not knowing the before and after.
Every country has different rules and laws about taking pictures in public places. It’s a tricky subject, and you should proceed with caution, especially if you’re shooting in a foreign country. It’s always good to know your rights as a street photographer.
Travel photography uses the camera to document and study remote and exotic places. Most people can only travel for a week or two each year. And they’re limited by budgets and life commitments.
But travel photography allows us a glimpse of corners of the globe we can barely imagine. Travel photographers expand our knowledge of the world, introducing us to new landscapes and cultures. And they fire up our imagination, inspiring us to strap on our backpacks and head out the door.
Urban exploration, or Urbex, takes you to abandoned places. With a camera around your neck, you venture into old factories and derelict buildings. These places litter our urban landscapes, though many are long forgotten.
Urbex is a lot of fun. But it’s one of the more dangerous types of photography. Old factories aren’t playgrounds, and many are falling apart. You should be safe and prepared, and take precautions on an urban exploration photography shoot.
Editorial photography accompanies stories and interviews in magazines and newspapers. They can involve celebrities, sports stars, fashion brands, or movie releases. Or they can be conceptual editorial pieces that relate to a story or person.
Editorial photographers have a lot of creative freedom. They can choose how they want to make their set of photos. They can do natural portraits or candid documentary shots. Or they can make stylists images with visual techniques and effects.
36. War Photography
This type of photography isn’t for everyone. It’s extremely dangerous, and you need the courage to take war pictures. War photography is a branch of photojournalism, but it deserves its own place on the list due to its high-risk nature.
War photography shows us the true horrors of war. War journalism is often sterile, focusing on locations and numbers. But war photography tells us the true human cost of war. These photographers show us the harsh reality of conflict, with the carnage, violence, and suffering. War photography isn’t easy to look at, but it’s important that we do.
37. Action Photography
There are plenty of types of photography that involve action. But real action photography comes from the center of the action. It’s shot from a player’s point of view.
There are some excellent camera options for action photography, with the GoPro being the most famous brand. This type of photography is about sharing your action-packed experiences with others.
The list of artistic photography genres looks at creative types of photography. Of course, all photography is creative. But these genres involve an artist’s vision and creative techniques.
All types of photography can be considered art. But fine art photography aims to create images that are pieces of art in their own right. There’s no need for narrative or context. The photo is an artwork in its purest form.
Fine art photography can involve other types of photography. Fine art photographers often use portraits and self-portraits. And they also use still life and abstract photography. They use in-camera and post-processing techniques to explore new avenues of image-making.
Still life photography looks at inanimate objects. Much like in still life paintings, the object of still life photography can be a single item or a collection of items. They can be connected, or they can be completely unrelated.
Still life photography has a strong connection to fine art photography. They both want to want a beautiful image. The photographer wants to change the ordinary into the extraordinary. It’s an exploration of color, shape, and meaning.
Abstract photography takes objects out of their normal context. It strips the subject of its meaning, so it’s nothing more than a form. Abstract photographers look for shapes and patterns in their environment. And they frame them in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Minimalism takes a less is more approach to photography. Examples of minimalist photography are simple, containing very little in the image. The photos are uncluttered and have a strong and dynamic composition. The negative space adds power to the subject.
Fantasy photography involves elaborate set designs and costumes. They’re used to create myths and legends from other worlds. They have princes and princesses, witches and wizards.
Fantasy photographers explore their imagination. They adopt old fairy tale tropes and themes. And they also develop brand new stories for people to get lost in.
Double or multiple exposures were one of the first types of composite image-making in photography. With a film camera, you create a double exposure by exposing the same section of film twice. This gives you two images in one photo.
You can also create double exposures in digital photography. You take two photos separately, then bring them together in post-processing. Two popular editing programs for this are Adobe Photoshop and Luminar Neo.
Double exposure is a form of composite imaging. But thanks to digital technology, many artists have taken composite photography to new places. They combine images to create one piece of artwork. It’s often called digital collage.
We’ve all seen time-lapse photography in nature documentaries, even if you don’t know it. They’ll show a flower blooming in just a few seconds. Videos like this are created by taking a series of pictures at set time intervals. Then they’re brought together to create a time-lapse video.
Time-lapse footage looks fantastic. And it’s not as complicated as you might think. You can try your hand at time-lapse photography. All you need is a digital camera, a few pieces of equipment, and some editing software like Photoshop.
The subject can be anything that changes over time. You can shoot a flower growing or dying. Or maybe you prefer snow or ice melting. You can also try a night sky time-lapse if you’re into astrophotography.
You might be able to guess what long exposure photography is from the name. It’s a form of photography that uses long exposure times to create fun and interesting images.
Motion blur is something many photographers avoid. But long exposure photography uses motion blur as a creative effect. It works well at night when artificial lights draw lines in the darkness. This could be the headlights of a car in motion. Or you can write words with a glow stick.
Blacklight photography uses ultraviolet light instead of white light. White light is the light produced by standard lamps and flashes. It illuminates the world around us. But black or ultraviolet light can’t be seen by the human eye.
Our eyes can’t see blacklight, but our camera sensors can. And you can use blacklight in photography to create incredible images with neon colors. You can get creative with glow sticks and UV body paint.
You might think black and white is a style rather than a type of photography. Any kind of photography on this list can be color or black and white. You can even take a color portrait and make it black and white in Photoshop or Lightroom.
While you can change from color to black and white with any genre, black and white photography should be considered a unique photography pursuit.
When you have an intention to shoot in black and white, you look for different things. You can’t rely on color to get attention. You have to find other things to make your images interesting. Contrast, texture, and composition really add to black and white photos.
Flat lay photography is where you arrange items on a flat surface and take a photo from above. Your flat surface is the canvas on which you paint your picture. You can create themed images. Or you can use them to send messages.
Flat lay photography is becoming more popular in social media and advertising photography. It’s a new way of presenting items and promoting themes.
High dynamic range (HDR) photography produces images with strong color vibrancy and intense detail. The basic concept is taking several pictures of the same scene, each with different exposure settings. Then you combine them into one image.
High dynamic range photography takes some practice. But you’ll soon get the hang of it if you’re using a program like Adobe Photoshop.
Crystal ball photography is centered around one specific prop—a crystal ball. They have a magical quality, and they manipulate light, giving you reflections and shapes.
There are plenty of ways to experiment when shooting crystal ball photography. It won’t tell you your future, but you’ll definitely have fun creating magical images.
Photography for Business
Any type of photography can be a business. Professionals make money from every type of photography genre. But the types of photography in this section are genres that are used as a part of other businesses.
Product photography is the art of taking pictures of products so they can be sold. Product photography images are used on sales pages online and in print.
The aim is to show the product in its best light. A product photographer is not developing an advert. Their job is to create a presentable image of the product, so potential buyers know what they’re buying.
Product photography is often simple, with the product on a white backdrop. But there are ways you can get creative too. You can add themes that relate to the product. And product photos can be developed into advertising campaigns.
53. Food Photography
Food photography is a big industry in its own right. Food magazines, blogs, and menus all need photos of fabulous food. And making food look good is harder than you might think.
We all love food. And it’s easy to get excited about food when you can smell and taste it. But making people’s tummy growl with just an image takes some effort. Food photography requires skills, knowledge, and equipment. But if you do it well, it can be a lucrative career.
As you might have guessed, architecture photography is the art of photographing buildings and other structures. This might be to celebrate the architecture. And the shapes and lines are often highlighted in minimalist or abstract photography.
Architectural photography is used by architects and surveyors. You’ll find it in magazines and advertisements. Sometimes the architecture is the product on display, other times the buildings are symbolic of something else.
Real estate photography plays a vital role in selling and renting properties. Real estate photographers need to have the property looking its very best in the photos. These will be displayed on the agent’s websites and directories. And they want people to buy.
There are plenty of photography skills you need for a successful real estate photography business. You need to capture a whole room in one shot. And you need to make the box room look like a honeymoon suite. If you can do that, there’s money to be made.
Social media is one of the new kids on the block. It’s certainly not one of the traditional types of photography. But for many young businessmen and women, social media is where they make their money. And social media photography plays a huge part in their success.
When promoting your products or services on social media, the photos need to look professional. You need to know how to use a smartphone for photography. And you need to know how to present and format your work. Even taking the perfect selfie requires skill.
Commercial photography is the creation of images used for commercial purposes. It can involve advertising campaigns for products, or it can be photography for brand marketing.
Commercial photographers will use portraits, fashion, and product photography. Art directors and marketing experts may join the photographers. Together, they’ll build a commercial campaign.
You can run an entire business from your phone these days. The phone can do everything, including taking pictures. Phone companies put a lot of effort into developing their smartphone cameras, which is paying off.
The standard phone apps are getting better all the time. But there are also excellent smartphone camera apps, giving you more creative control. You can take professional-standard photos on any Android or Apple device.
Tilt-shift photography requires a tilt-shift lens. A tilt-shift lens gives you more control over perspective. They’re an expensive piece of equipment. But they’re popular with architectural and real-estate photographers.
On the path to becoming a photographer, picking up the camera is the first step. Then you need to decide which direction you want to take. And as you can see from our list, there are tons of options.
You can focus on people photography, creating intimate and personal portraits. Or you can explore and study the natural world with landscape or wildlife photography. Or perhaps you want to report on the biggest stories across the world.
Don’t feel intimidated by the various types of photography. You don’t have to stick to just one! You can experiment with as many as you like, trying new things and combining genres. When it comes to photography, there is no wrong direction.
Check out our Photography for Beginners course to master the basics before you decide on the specific type of photography you want to dive into!