In this article, we will take a look at different types of photography so you can explore which is the right one for you. Whether you see a billboard, pictures of friends on social media, or an advertising campaign, photography is everywhere.
Each photography genre has its own advantages and challenges. But here’s the most important of all if you want to be a happy and not-burned-out photographer: The photography style you choose needs to reflect your passion and who you are as a person.
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we present 33 photography genres to help you learn more and understand what you need. We hope this collection will inspire you to take your camera and try at least one new genre.
Why you need to choose which type of photography suits you best
You could never be the best photographer of all genres. You might be talented in several areas and take decent shots within multiple genres of photography. However, it is impossible to excel in all of them and you shouldn’t want to anyway.
The usual advice you hear from seasoned photographers is to pick one or two types of photography to develop your skills and excel. The lucky ones combine both art and income in the same type of photography.
Do you want to generate income from photography?
Finding the type of photography jobs that is a perfect match for you is one thing. However, not all photography genres are equally good for generating income. However, with a little bit of flexibility and an open mind, you can make it. Sometimes all you need to do is to ask a few questions.
Who would want to pay for this type of photo? Where can I find these people?
Think of professional landscape, wildlife, and macro photographers. Most of their income probably comes from running workshops, and not from selling prints.
What are the Different types of photography – Find your niche
1. Fashion photography
Fashion photography is a glamorous niche and it’s quite complicated to enter. From capturing the latest fashion shows on the runway to creating covers for top magazines, fashion photography is a lifestyle.
You need to learn about directing models, like different female poses, and capture amazing photos while interacting with a model.
You need to know how to work with a model one-on-one, choose a location whether it’s a studio or a tropical beach, create a concept, and follow a brief. A photographer is just one part of the team and you need to learn to communicate with hairstylists, makeup artists, and artistic directors.
Lighting and color grading should be perfect. You will work a lot with the model, directing their poses and making the model and outfit look their absolute best. Male poses and female poses are a bit different. If you want to get the most out of the time you have with the model, you can prepare by previsualizing which poses looks best with the model, male or female, you will work with on the set.
2. Event photography
Event photography is a dynamic and fast-changing type of job. One day you may need to shoot at a corporate party and the next day you may need to be at a rock concert. This style is all about photographing guests and scenarios on different occasions.
You can specialize even more and choose just a specific type of event. If you are not into crowds, this genre of photography is probably not for you.
3. Food photography
Social media can make everyone feel like a food photographer. Food photography is part of the larger genre of still-life photography. You need to focus on food, plating, ingredients, drinks, and other food-related things.
You can work for cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, food blogs, and product websites. Remember that you sell the food to customers, so it should look amazing, mouthwatering, and tasty.
The key element of any stunning food photo is to know how to light the scene properly. But you should also know to take close-ups, work with color, understand shapes and textures, and create interesting relationships between elements.
4. Documentary photography
Documentary photography is about storytelling. It’s the art of telling a story with a picture regardless of your subject matter.
The main task of documentary photography is to tell the truth, raise awareness, and convey feelings. You need to engage with your subject and add a temporal dimension to your compositions. Most of the time, a documentary project takes a long time, sometimes years.
You need to capture emotion as well as actions.
“Documentary” means that everything happens naturally, so you should showcase the events to the world. Think about the big picture, but don’t forget about details. Details refine the story and make it more personal.
5. Wedding photography
Wedding photography is a specific type of event photography because almost every couple hires a photographer for their wedding. Being a wedding photographer requires some portraiture and event photography skills and combines staged and candid photos. This style is quite intense because a lot is happening at weddings.
You should be comfortable with not getting a second chance of nailing the shots you need. You have to work the first shot you get or the best of the burst of shots.
If you use your network, you can get relatively easy your first clients, and begin to make money but you should be passionate about it too. You will mostly work on weekends and, if you want to make a living out of it, you should take into account how many weddings you can cover in one year.
Couples expect direction for style and posing from the photographer, which requires patience, empathy, and social skills. Each couple is different. Take time to get to know them and avoid clichés.
6. Landscape photography
This is a very popular style, in which a photographer captures nature scenery or environmental changes. It requires waiting for proper lighting conditions and the use of a tripod. Tip: using long shutter speed while shooting water can give you amazing results.
Being a landscape photographer means commitment. Sometimes you’ll need to go to the location in the dark and cold to be there before the first rays of the sun.
7. Still-life photography
Still-life is a type of photography that allows you to create the scene and the composition in detail; your subject matter may be anything from jewelry to food.
You don’t need an expensive studio, just a table and a window with natural light, and a creative mindset to come up with ideas for interesting subjects or concepts to capture in your still-life photos.
How many product photos have you seen just today or the last week? If you think about it, there are product photos everywhere.
By specializing in product photography, you can make money by uploading your images to stock agencies and working as a freelancer. As a product photographer, your photos can be used for e-commerce sites, print catalogs, and product packaging. By using a recommended lens for product photography, you set yourself up to get the best possible results.
8. Portrait photography
Portraiture is one of the most popular genres of photography and many beginners consider it a career option. Capturing people’s expressions is a fun job to do. A portrait could be a close-up shot or a full-body photo.
Often in this type of photography, you don’t want to interfere and make the person smile. Instead, you want to capture true emotions or the personality of the subject. If you are good with dealing with people one-to-one, this might be a great job for you.
Compared to other genres of photography, portrait photography is also fairly accessible for a beginner. Start with learning the craft and techniques using the gear you have, and get your friends to be your first subjects. Slowly, you can build a portfolio and attract paying clients.
9. Sports photography
Sports photography is a perfect gig for people who love sports. From the sidelines, sports photographers use long lenses and quick camera settings to capture fast-paced actions. The photos can then be used in sports magazines, blogs, and advertising.
Today, an entry-level telephoto lens costs over $200, but in this profession, a high-quality telephoto lens is a must.
10. Wildlife photography
Another great and rewarding photography niche is wildlife where your goal is to capture wild animals in natural surroundings. Similar to sports photography, it requires telephoto lenses.
Not everyone can be a wildlife photographer and only the best get to earn money with their photos. Most wildlife photographers struggle to get assignments or sell their photos.
11. Fine art photography
The works of the best fine art photographers are exhibited in galleries and sold as limited edition prints.
As a fine art photographer, you can take artistic photographs of people, buildings, animals, or other subjects. BUT you need to convey emotions with your images. This style of photography is about ideas and the message you want to convey.
12. Street photography
Street photography allows you to capture unexpected events on the streets, snapshots of everyday life in public spaces.
Don’t go for popular places, but instead look for hidden spots to capture ordinary life. You can take photos of graffiti, people, vendors, street food. Many street photographers have a love for showing their work in black and white photos.
Photojournalism is similar to documentary photography but is different from street photography. The goal of a photojournalist is to capture events in real-time and let the world know about them. It’s not as much about an artistic purpose as it is about telling the news.
14. Macro photography
The devil is in the details and macro photographers know it. Macro photography is about showing the unseen face of very small subjects.
For good results, you need a proper macro lens and good technical skills. Read our macro photography tips before getting started.
15. Newborn photography
Newborn or baby photography is similar to portrait photography but brings a few extra challenges. For example, newborns are very fragile and their eyes are sensitive to light, and babies’ moods can be unexpected, bringing chaos to your photo sessions.
16. Architectural photography
Taking pictures of buildings may be a hobby for many people, but some photographers make a career out of it.
Attention to details, geometry, working with interior decorations, and double exposure techniques are important for this type of photography.
17. Black and white photography
True black and white photographers commit to this aesthetic from the very beginning and shot directly in black and white. Many of them still use an analog camera. The lack of color brings shapes and textures to attention, enhances contrast, and creates a different dynamic of the elements.
18. Abstract photography
Abstract or conceptual photography includes images that don’t provide instant association. Any object could become a subject for abstract photography depending on the way you capture it, so it takes imagination and creativity to take abstract photos.
19. Commercial photography
Commercial photography sells a product and includes advertising and stock photos. As a commercial photographer, you need a wide range of skills, from how to photograph people to still-life and landscapes. You also need to know to work with natural and artificial light, follow a strict brief, and deliver what the client wants.
20. Underwater photography
Even when you live in a location by the sea or ocean, underwater photography is a complicated style of photography. It not only requires a waterproof camera but also good lighting equipment and plenty of technical skills.
Furthermore, you need special training for longer dives or scuba gear to be underwater for an extended amount of time.
21. Aerial photography
Aerial photography is a modern genre provided by technology. Today, anyone can fly a drone and start taking aerial shots. But make sure you follow your country’s regulations because there are places where you need a commercial license. Aerial photographs are used for weddings, landscape photos, and artistic purposes.
22. Stock Photography
Stock photography is another modern niche that has grown exponentially for freelance photographers. With this style, your goal is to shoot images that you can sell later on stock websites.
These images can then be used for blogs, magazines, websites, and other purposes. It could be a great source of passive income as you can take a bunch of different photos once and then sell them. These types of photographers are also ready to make a huge effort, in the beginning, shooting 1000 different images before the money starts rolling in by itself.
23. Travel Photography
This photography style is an ideal option for people who love to travel and want to get paid for it. You can not only sell your travel photography on stock sites but also become a travel blogger, sharing travel experiences and tips with the world. This is one of the more popular types of photography, this type will help you explore the world through your lens and likely take you to many different continents and cultures.
As a travel photographer, you are a wearer of many hats: you need to know how to capture portraits, lifestyle, food, wildlife, still lifes, and other styles.
24. Lifestyle Photography
Photography has never been in higher demand as it is today. We are surrounded by photography everywhere in magazines, on billboards, on the internet, and on smartphones.
Lifestyle photography, or advertising photography, includes a range of styles from fashion to still life. You may shoot for editorials and social media.
25. Scientific Photography
Scientific photographers covers everything from microscope photography to astrophotography. It’s about shooting technology, space stations, tiny bacteria, and so on. Show the world some new inventions with scientific photography.
26. Pet Photography
If you like animals, pet photography may be the best style for you. It is very similar to portrait photography in many aspects with one big difference – your subject is a furry friend. Pet photography involves indoor studio sessions as well as outdoor shooting.
You can even start your pet photography career in a local pet park! To capture pets, you should understand the light, convey the essence of your subject, and understand how to deal with fast-paced chaos.
27. Boudoir Photography
Boudoir photography is a style that features sensual, intimate, and sometimes erotic images of a subject. Usually, this type of photography is taken in studios or bedrooms in a private atmosphere. The goal of this style to show the beauty of the human body.
28. Minimalist Photography
Minimalist photography is a style where you try to capture minimum number of visual elements. This allows you the opportunity to experiment with textures, colors, and shapes to get an impressive image.
29. Mobile Photography
We all have smartphones these days and if you have ever taken a photo with your mobile, you could be considered a mobile photographer. It’s about taking pictures with your smartphone, which is great considering that the latest iPhone’s camera is pretty amazing! Of all the genres in photography, this is likely the most accessible in terms of low costs.
You can shoot anything from landscape to macro. There are even stock websites and blogs for mobile photography on the web!
30. Night Photography
All photography taken at night could be referred to as night photography. You would need to use a tripod and long shutter speed to capture images in low light; however, some of the shots, such as light painting or night cityscape are worth the effort. Anything from a portrait to landscape photos could be taken at night.
31. War Photography
War photography is a very dangerous style since a photographer goes to war areas to capture conflicts. Of all the different types of photographers, this is definitely the job that is only for risk seekers. You should not bother with many expensive lenses, so a war photographer’s kit is very small. Furthermore, the conditions in war areas could be unexpected and less equipment is essential.
32. Creative Photography
There are way more than 32 different types of photographers, but some of them very similar. Creative photography is not a separate style, but rather, it is a style of taking and post-processing images where the focus is on creativity.
Creative photography is all about using different effects, such as HDR, double-exposure, time-lapse, crystal ball photography, and more.
33. Real Estate Photography
People’s housing needs change all the time, and someone has to take pictures of their house before they can sell it. Real Estate photography is one of the types of photography careers that many pursue as a means for getting some extra cash for spending more time on their other favorite photography genres.
What Types of Photography Are Right for Me?
Now, you know 33 different styles of photography and what it takes to be a photographer for each one. It’s natural to try various styles before you find what kind of photography is yours. But remember, with all these photography categories you cannot master all of them. If you want to build a career as a photographer, you definitely need to choose one style and market yourself as a specific style photographer.
2 thoughts on “33 Types of Photography to Help You Specialize (2021)”
What an awesome article! I maybe would have come up with 10 types but once you see them all laid out as Nancy Young has done, they are obvious and adventuresome. Most photographers would likely touch across several styles or more, myself included. If you are hiking for landscape photos, it is unlikely you’ll pass up a shot that also happens to have wildlife in it, right? 🙂 That is the fun of a camera (not to mention the second one in your pocket). Beautiful images in this article too! Thanks for sharing.
Nancy, very well written article! More than half of these never crossed my mind. My team mainly focuses on the fairly common niches (weddings, newborn, family) and we were curious to see what other people out there work on. We definitely need to go out and explore more!