Types of photography you must learn

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    Close-up picture of an owl

    Are you looking to kick-start your photography career?

    Perhaps you are a professional photographer with many years of experience and feel a bit stuck in a rut?

    Or maybe you are simply a hobbyist photographer looking to get into professional photography or seeking a way to make your pastime just a little bit more interesting.

    No matter your circumstances, there’s more than just landscape photography and portrait photography to consider. In this guide, we’ll give you knowledge and tips of 30 different types of photography to help you progress to the next level.

    Different Types of Photography

    There are so many different photography genres out there; perhaps some you’ve never even considered. There’s sure to be a new type of photography here for you to try out.

    1. Portrait Photography

    One of the most popular types of photography, portrait photography, covers everything to do with photographing people.

    This includes everything from professional headshots to full-body shots and also group shots such as family portraits.

    Portrait photographers aim to show a person’s personality by using a range of backgrounds, poses, and props. The careful use of lighting, either natural or artificial, is also important to highlight a person’s features.

    Portrait photo of a smiling redhead girl
    Portrait of a smiling girl with curly red hair

     

    2. Landscape Photography

    This is another wide-ranging field, covering everything ranging from forests, beaches, and mountains, to man-made land-scapes.

    Landscape photographers must think not only about the location they wish to shoot but also when to visit. Many landscape photos are shot during periods of beautiful natural light, such as during sunset or sunrise. Filters are also popular among landscape photographers to artificially darken the scene when there is too much natural light.

    Landscape picture of a beautiful lake mirroring the sky

    Cameras for landscape photography should be equipped with a very high definition sensor and wide lenses. Click here for a list of 10 landscape photography cameras.

    3. Still Life Photography

    Still life photography focuses on shooting everyday objects and presenting them in a more interesting light. It’s a great way to practice your skills, working on different arrangements and lighting to find the best way to create a stunning photograph from the somewhat dull subject matter.

    You can use either artificial or natural objects in your still life or a combination of both. Composition and framing are key to a successful still life, so this is a great way for beginner photographers to improve their skills in these areas.

    Picture of a teacup, a book and flowers on a table

    4. Sports Photography

    Sports photographers cover everything ranging from fast-paced motor racing or football matches to more relaxing pursuits such as Pilates or yoga.

    A sports photographer will generally need a telephoto lens to get close-up shots of the action across the playing field. Sports photography can be used either in the press (think the sports section of your local newspaper) or for advertising a brand.

    Picture of a cricket batsman about to strike the ball

     

    5. Documentary Photography

    Documentary photography captures everyday moments and uses these to show people and their lives, as well as environments.

    This type of photography is often used in media reports of major, historical events as a means of education. Documentary photographers might focus on events such as war or take a series of photos to show inequality or injustice, for example.

     

    6. Street Photography

    This type of photography is most often based in cities and urban areas, in a street setting. It can include buildings, people, and animals – many other sub-genres are covered by the broader term ‘street photography.’

    Like documentary photography above, street photographers tend to focus on people’s day-to-day lives on the streets. When people, particularly children, are involved, care must be taken to respect their privacy. So, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on what’s allowed and what isn’t before diving in to take photographs of people on the street.

    Picture of a fox caught at night in the streets of London

     

    7. Fashion Photography

    Fashion photographers tend to capture shots of models wearing particular types of clothing, generally for use in advertising. Glamour photography or fashion photography takes place either at a fashion show or in the photographer’s studio.

     

    8. Wildlife Photography

    Wildlife photography involves capturing animals in their natural environment, whether this is in the mountains, forest, pond, desert, or anywhere else.

    If you wish to become a wildlife photographer, you will need an excellent telephoto lens to get close enough to the action- smartphones must be avoided!.

    Close-up picture of an owl
    Close-up picture of a night owl with bokeh

     

    9. Fine Art Photography

    In fine art images, the photographer is the artist. The photographer aims to pass on a message or feeling to their viewers through their work. The subject matter can vary greatly –  art form can be portraits, still life, landscapes and nature, and more.

     

    10. Wedding Photography

    You’re probably already quite familiar with the concept of a wedding photographer. Wedding photographers can capture every moment of the big day, from getting dressed and ready to the ceremony and the first dance.

    Shooting a wedding involves taking candid photos of the guests as well as posed photographs with the different family groups. You might even use drones to capture the scene from a different angle or travel to a stunning location with the bride and groom to take more photos.

    Photo of a bride receiving the ring from the groom

     

    11. Pet Photography

    Pet photography generally includes creating portraits of peoples’ cats, dogs, and horses, but it can include just about any animal. Sometimes this might be in the owner’s home or in a studio, or occasionally outside in a park or forest if the subject is a dog.

    Picture of an unusual pet: an african hedgehog
    African hedgehog: not the usual pet. Nocturnal and not particularly sociable.

     

    12. Macro Photography

    You’ve probably come across some great examples of macro photography before, but how do you create a stunning macro image? The best macro images come from lenses with a magnification ratio of 1:1 and with a minimum focusing distance of under 12 inches (for a good depth of field).

    Typical macro shots depict insects and flowers, but they can be much more varied than that. You can focus on small details with macro shots, like parts of a car or water droplets on a window.

     

    13. Event Photography

    Event photography covers just about any event you can think of – weddings, parties, concerts, carnivals, and corporate events. Typically, the shots will focus on the crowd or guests and will be candid in nature.

     

    14. Aerial Photography

    Aerial or drone photography has become increasingly popular in recent years with the improvement of drones’ cameras. This interesting perspective works very well for landscape scenes.

     

    15. Architectural Photography

    Architecture photography focuses on capturing artificial structures such as buildings, bridges, statues, and more. You’ll need some specialized lens and learn the correct technique to ensure huge buildings are represented accurately in your work.

    Architecture photographers tend to shoot the same subject at different times or in different weather conditions for a unique perspective. You might also wish to include people in your photographs.

    Architectural photo of the brooklyn bridge in black/white
    Black and white picture of the Brooklyn Bridge

     

    16. Food Photography

    Food photography is always increasing in popularity thanks to the likes of Instagram. It is a form of still life and tends to be useful in magazines or on recipe blog posts.

    Wagyu roll with foie-gras topping
    Wagyu rolls with foie-gras on top

     

    17. Real Estate Photography

    This is a very specific type of indoor photography, capturing all the details of the inside of a house ready for the market. You’ll need to make good use of lighting and find a great angle to make sure the house looks its best.

     

    18. Underwater Photography

    Underwater photography is usually done by scuba divers or snorkelers. The subject matter can be anything ranging from shipwrecks and underwater caves to marine life or even shots of fellow divers.

    You’ll need either a waterproof camera or special waterproof housing for an existing camera. Wide-angle and macro lenses are commonly used.

    Vibrant reef colors, fish and scuba diver
    Vibrant reef colors and scuba diver with an underwater action camera.

    19. Advertising Photography

    Advertising or product photography involves hiring artistic photographers to show the best features of a product in an attempt to sell more of it. This field also covers capturing images intended to sell a service. These images are published in the media and on the web – a huge amount of advertising is now done online.

     

    20. Candid Photography

    Candid photos show everyday life and situations and involve photographing un-posed subjects. This means you get candid images showing real reactions and facial expressions – the results can be quite powerful.

    Typical settings for candid photography include events such as weddings or family gatherings, as well as protests or historical events. It can even include day-to-day moments from family life at home.

    Photo of a kid hugging a cat

    21. Newborn Photography

    Baby photography involves capturing adorable photographs of very young newborn babies, generally when they are asleep. The photographer will use a range of props and poses but will ensure the baby remains safe throughout. This can be combined with other types of family photography involving older siblings or parents.

     

    22. Commercial Photography

    Just like advertising photography, commercial photography is a type of product photography wants to help sell something. However, these images can also be useful on publications such as menus and brochures or leaflets.

     

    23. Travel Photography

    This type of photography involves showcasing a particular place through a photo or series of photos – think National Geographic or other travel magazines. You can also find many examples of travel photography on related blogs.

    Travel photographs can include people, landscapes, buildings, and much more to capture the essence of a place.

    Picture of a girl in Petra, Jordan
    Asian girl with a camera overlooking Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) in Petra, Jordan

     

    24. War Photography

    War photographers capture powerful photography shots during wars and conflicts for editorial publications. These emotive images tend to show the destruction of places and the effect of conflicts on people living there.

    Two soldiers exchanging communication

     

    25. Stock Photography

    All of the above genres are stock photos – they cover absolutely everything you can think of. Customers buy these photos from a website to use in their own publications rather than hiring a photographer to capture images themselves.

     

    26. Crystal Ball Photography

    This unique type of photography can be used in conjunction with many other genres and involves using a glass ball to create a unique perspective. The glass will flip the scene upside down and can be placed just in front of the camera or further away in the scene.

     

    27. Lifestyle Photography

    The images captured in this type of photography look more natural, although they are still posed. They show real situations and aim to tell a story. In effect, lifestyle photography sits somewhere between candid photography and portraiture.

     

    28. Editorial Photography

    This genre covers a wide range of subjects, including events, fashion, sports, and more. The resulting images are used in magazines or newspapers.

     

    29. Night Photography

    This covers all types of photos captured at night, whether it is the night sky itself or other subjects shot at night-time. Light painting is another technique that can give beautiful results. You’ll need some specialist gear if you wish to capture shots in near-dark conditions.

    Night photo of a lavender field with starry sky
    In this stunning night shot the lavender field colors mix with the milky way stars

     

    30. Urban Photography

    Our final type of photography is similar to street photography and covers many of the same scenarios. However, street photographers tend to involve people in their scenes, whereas urban photographers do not.

    Photo at night of a street with blurred city lights

     

    Photography Styles

    With digital photography, you can control the camera settings to get creative and have fun with your subject. Learning different styles and techniques can enlarge your repertoire giving you photography knowledge without attending a course.

    1. Black and White Photography

    You can either capture your shot in black and white or convert it afterward using processing software. Any subject can be captured in black and white – it’s a great way to bring more focus to your subject and the composition of your image.

     

    2. Minimalist Photography Captures

    It can be difficult to capture an impressive yet minimalistic image. With this technique, many photographers prefer to focus on elements such as texture, color, or lines.

     

    3. Golden Hour Photography

    Golden hour photography refers to the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset, when the natural light takes on a stunning, golden hue. You might also hear this time referred to as the magic hour. During this time, the light is even, making it easy to create a perfectly exposed image.

    Golden hour picture of Dublin
    Dublin at the Golden Hour

     

    4. Forced Perspective Photography

    This involves looking at a scene from a different angle to create an image that is fun for your viewers to look at. In most cases, one subject will be positioned further from the camera whilst others will be nearer to create the illusion that something is a lot bigger or smaller than it really is.

    Think about those classic examples of people holding the moon in their hands or propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

     

    5. HDR Photography

    HDR, or high dynamic range, photography is an excellent way to ensure you always get detail in the darkest and brightest parts of your pictures. For example you can capture the same scene at different exposure, then merging them into one using editing software there are plenty of tutorials ready to teach you easily better than at school. This results in one picture with all the details from the shadows and highlights. Some courses are exclusively about HDR!

     

    6. Creative Photography

    This involves many different techniques, including the crystal ball mentioned above. It can also include things like multiple exposures (layering two different images) or adjusting the composition in a slightly different way. In other words, creative photography involves an extra element to improve a photograph from how it would have looked without this.