Eight Photography Genres to Consider
Many folks are drawn to photography, not just because it's an extraordinary and artistic medium of telling stories, but because it's in sub-genres can offer more opportunities. You can have a broad field of possibilities in which to specialise, and there's likely to be at least one you find interesting!
Photography does make it easier to "find your passion" - just make sure you have the skills to back it all up. In case you're just getting started in photography, below are eight photography genres you can consider. First, there are two questions you should ask yourself:
What do you like doing?
Typically, you'll want to try your hand at various genres before selecting one. However, it's pretty easy to eliminate straight-off a few based on your personal preferences.
For example, if sitting through any sports event sounds like torture, you'll probably want to skip trying sports photography. If you're not the outdoorsy type, landscape or wildlife photography probably aren't for you either. If you love to travel, however, travel photography, you can sell to marketing or travel sites might be an ideal fit.
What are your best skills?
Sometimes selecting a genre can come down to your skill set beyond photography. Are you a people person? You're likely well-suited for a style that involves engages with others such as a portrait photographer.
Dynamically engaging with your subjects can produce some terrific photos. If, on the other hand, you prefer to not engage with humans at all, still life photography might be perfect! If you're also very good at artificial lighting, then all the better for still life or food photography.
Sometimes what we're best at isn't necessarily what we love doing. This means you either get better at what you love doing or do what you're good at, but don't necessarily have a strong passion for. Only you can decide which is best for you.
Eight Popular Photography Genres
If you like taking pictures while traveling, this one might be ideal for you! Landscape photography is exactly as it says: images of landscapes. This type of photography can include a lot of variation in both subject and style; diversity of lighting (although it's typically reliant on natural light); panoramic or portrait composition.
Learning to work with depth of field, how to best leverage natural light, and compose the shot are critical skills - as is the ability to be nimble and eagle-eyed enough to shoot from unusual angles. More than anything, you'll need a love of the outdoors! You'll want to invest in portable or light gear at some point to make your life easier.
This favorite photography genre offers a unique window into the human spirit from a personalised perspective. If you take pictures with your smartphone, you're probably already a portrait photographer. It doesn't take much to shoot portraits, but skill, practice, and, without doubt, quality equipment matters in the long run.
There are two styles of portraits: candid and posed (also known as traditional). It's likely you'll prefer one over the other but will probably find yourself shooting both at some point. Portraits can include fashion, models, and fashion photography but also family portraits, wedding, and graduation photos. Professional business headshots are included in this genre.
Portrait photography becomes compelling and poignant when you best capture the personality of the subject. This means capturing facial expressions or finding some other way of representing them.
Family or Newborn Photography
Family, newborn, and baby photography has grown in popularity as the cost of portraiture has become more accessible. It's considered a niche of portrait photography. It can be a challenging area requiring a lot of patience, skill, and intuition.
Working with newborns, who can be very vulnerable, isn't for everyone. Having a lot of experience with babies is a big plus for this type of photography as your tiny subjects will have their own sets of needs during a shoot. Keep in mind their eyes are still sensitive to light; they spend a lot of time sleeping (usually a plus); you might need to break for a feeding or diaper change; their body movements are still mostly uncontrollable or unexpected.
Family portraits bring the joy and challenge of working with a group. That means multiple subjects you'll have to catch perfectly in a shot and work with to compose a beautiful portrait. However, both family and baby photography can be extremely rewarding as you build relationships with your clients and continue to photograph them across the span of several years.
If you can break into this genre, you'll find it one of the better paying. Keep in mind that capturing beautiful images of animals in the wild can be extremely challenging. Tracking animals in their natural habitats isn't easy, and it's not for everyone, even the most experienced photographers. You'll also need the right gear to capture good shots.
A lot of photographers "graduate" to this genre after gaining serious experience in other styles, but nothing is stopping the intrepid photographer with a passion for wildlife from starting with this genre. Why does it pay so well? There aren't many photographers doing this life of work.
This is a high-level niche that requires a lot of skill, training, and top-quality gear, including high-end long lenses. Be prepared to shoot at fast shutter speeds while capturing great angles, and able to shoot on both manual and auto. This is a tough field to break into given the level and amount of competition. Many, but certainly not all, sports photographers get a start in college shooting college sports and work their way up and out from there.
Still Life Photography
This genre, as the name implies, is about still or inanimate objects. Think food photography, branding images, catalogs, and website photography of products. It might sound like an easy genre, but think again.
The best still lifes know how to leverage natural light as well as manipulate artificial lighting in a studio or outdoors. Knowing how to use a light-box as well is essential. Still, life (and food) photos can include macro shots. This is probably one of the more technologically demanding of the photography genres.
No, we're not talking about taking a picture of your next colourful meal. This is a serious genre and one that's not that easy to make money off of, although social media has had a significant impact on it. Photographers, even hobby or amateur, have greater exposure than even a decade ago.
That can lead to a regular and broad stream of followers. Gather enough followers (we're talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and you'll find yourself branded an influencer. Once there, you can monetize your work and exposure. Today's smartphone technology makes it relatively easy to produce professional quality pics.
A relative of portraiture, street photography is an artistic genre that documents street life and allows photographers to express their creative side. If you like carrying your camera around, aren't shy and are endlessly fascinated by the world around you, street photography could be ideal for you. In many ways, street photography overlaps with documentary photography or even photojournalism. It all depends on how you use or sell the pictures you shoot.
Street photography includes pretty much anything you see on the street, but the images typically highlight street life in some way. These are often the images you see featured in newspapers, social media, magazines, blogs, or as stock photography.