We are constantly 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.
Walking through the streets you’ll notice photographs are always in our peripheral vision. It is the norm, even when you don’t quite know what types of photography you are looking at.
You may be shooting pictures every day, and uploading them to Instagram, Facebook or the Cloud. But how many of us actually know the different types of photography out there?
Understanding the different genres or types of photography will help you in developing your photographic knowledge. And that is exactly why we’ve made a list of them so you can easily familiarise yourself with the different niches of photography.
Abstract or conceptual photography is the act of creating images that don’t have an immediate association with the object world.
The use of photographic equipment, processes or materials is what makes these images possible.
Anything adventure, typically photographed in the outdoors, goes in here.
This is very much a niche photographic area, including stunning landscapes and challenging shooting conditions.
This involves photographing buildings and structures. They are accurate representations of the subjects, captured using specialised cameras and techniques.
And if you’ve ever wondered what that tilt shift lens is for, well, now you know.
Astrophotography is a specialised type of photography for recording objects in the night sky.
It includes Deep Sky (far away subjects photographed using a telescope), Solar System (photographed subjects in our solar system), Wide Angle (milky way photography) and Time-Lapse (star trail images) photography.
Black and white photography is the act of capturing a scene without its colour. 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 the photographic style of capturing intimate and romantic images of its subjects in a bedroom or dressing room environment.
The intended use of these are for the enjoyment of the subject and his or her romantic partners.
They are conventionally 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 equivalent of a landscape.
Commercial photography involves taking pictures for commercial use, to promote or sell a product or service.
Here, the 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, to 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 on top of each other), montages (a scene photographed in smaller parts to form a bigger angle of view) and multiplicity (capturing a single person multiple times in the same scene).
Focus stacking is also a form of composite photography. This is where images of the same subject at different focal points create an overall focus when stitched together.
Creative photography is a wide area of photography where 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, such as helicopters, planes and drones.
These images are either photographed from up-down, or using an angle to create abstract or realistic images of the landscape.
Editorial photographs are images captured for use in newspapers and magazines.
These are typically 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.
These are possibly 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. This is usually done within studio conditions or live catwalk and fashion shows.
Moreover, 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, and typically have a stronger concept than the same image photographed in a traditional style.
Food photography is a niche area of still life photography. Here, we concentrate on food, ingredients, styling and food-related scenes.
This is also a niche of commercial or editorial photography, where the images become advertisements in magazines.
Golden hour photography refers to the hour before a 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 like interior photography, but without a specific editorial or commercial aim.
Infrared photography refers to an image captured on film or digital sensor that is sensitive to infrared light. The infrared light passes through to the camera sensor, where all other visible light is blocked.
You will need a filter for this. Or you can create it using post-processing software.
Landscape photography is the capturing of nature, 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, where they show scenes and items for editorial or commercial uses.
Here, we present these subjects in a more natural, believable way.
A long exposure 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 colour, 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, with or without other members of the family.
This is the only area of photography where the photographer is completely responsible for the safety and welfare of the subject.
Composite images to give the impression that the baby is completely 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 specialisations as light-painting and spiral photography.
Pet photography is the act of photographing pets in a portrait manner. Examples of these could be photographing cats, birds or horses.
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 genres that 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 mainly 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 catalogues and brochures, or online.
These include jewellery and water splash images, to name a few.
Real estate photography is the act of photographing a property for commercial or editorial reasons. Here, lighting techniques and use of camera gear are very important.
This genre includes interior photography, where we only capture the inside of the house.
Seascape, or ocean photography is a niche of landscape photography. Here, the sea or ocean is the main focus, working in people, boats, islands or other geographical objects such as rock formations and cliffs.
Coastal photography is also included in this genre.
Social media photography refers to the act of photographing and sharing your images on social media platforms such as 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, or 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. 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 ‘holy grail’ time-lapse photography).
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 locating and photographing abandoned places and spaces. This genre incorporates architectural and interior photography.
This type of photography is exciting due to potentially dangerous and legally ambiguous areas.
War photography involves photographing armed conflicts and its effects on places and people. It is a form of documentary photography and photojournalism, used primarily for editorial use.
Wedding photography is a specialised niche of event photography. Here, we concentrate on 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.
Wildlife photography is the act of capturing and documenting animals in their natural habitats. Here, specialised equipment, such as telephoto or macro lenses are very important.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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