An Overview of 11 Different Genres of Photography

‍Photo by Hans on Pixabay

‍Photography is undoubtedly a rich and varied form of art. Today, let’s explore ten distinct genres of photography that have played a significant role in shaping this art and continue to have an impact on it. Each genre possesses its own distinctive features, specific equipment needs and renowned photographers associated with it. My name is Jim Hubbard and as a professional photographer, I am thrilled to embark on this exciting journey together with you.

1. The Human Essence: Portrait Photography

Sometimes referred to as portraiture, this type of art concentrates on capturing the essence of individuals or groups through photography. It extends beyond merely capturing faces; both the backdrop and the subject’s posture also play a significant role. Portrait photography is a captivating form of photography that focuses on capturing the essence, personality and emotions of a subject through their facial expressions and overall character. It is a distinct genre that stands in contrast to landscape photography. In this style, photographers skillfully utilize various elements such as appealing backgrounds, lighting, atmosphere and poses to bring out the best in their subjects and bring the entire composition to life.

Renowned portrait photographers: Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry

Essential equipment: A DSLR or mirrorless camera, a lens with high aperture and 70-200mm focal length, a shutter release, flash, softbox, and reflectors.

2. Sexy: Boudoir Photography

Boudoir photo sessions go beyond just capturing sexy poses. These intimate shoots, often held in private bedrooms, aim to showcase the seductive and romantic aspects of an individual. While the subjects are typically posed partially nude or in lingerie, the objective is not solely centered around traditional sex appeal. Boudoir photography is a style of photography that captures intimate, sensual and romantic images of individuals in settings like a photography studio, bedroom or private dressing room. These captivating visuals are primarily created for the personal enjoyment of the subjects and their partners in a private context.

Renowned boudoir photographers: Michael Jones, Michael Sasser

Essential equipment: A DSLR or mirrorless camera, a lens in the 35-85mm range, natural light works best.

3. Unveiling Style: Fashion Photography

This genre typically revolves around showcasing fashion items like clothes or accessories. These photos are often used for advertisements, magazines, and other commercial purposes. Fashion photography is a fascinating branch of photography that captures the essence of clothing and other fashionable items. It often showcases exquisite haute couture garments. Typically, a skilled fashion photographer captures stunning images of a well dressed model in either a studio or an outdoor location. Originating from the world of fashion and clothing industries, this genre has transcended into an art form while maintaining its primary purpose for commercial use in promoting clothing, perfumes and beauty products.

Famous fashion photographers: Mario Testino, Steven Meisel

Essential equipment: A suitable camera for fashion photography, 20-70mm zoom lenses, spotlights, tungsten-halogen and incandescent lamps, a strobe or flash, a fill light, and umbrella reflectors.

4. The World is Your Canvas: Travel Photography

Travel photography documents more than just landscapes and people. It captures the essence of a place, its culture, and traditions. Travel photography is an incredibly diverse genre that encompasses a wide range of subjects. There are photographers who focus on specific aspects like travel portraits, landscapes or documentary photography, while others capture every facet of the travel experience. The present day style of travel photography draws inspiration from the pioneering work featured in magazines like National Geographic, where talented photographers like Steve McCurry made their mark.

Famous travel photographers: Chris Burkard, Kirsten Alana

Essential equipment: A travel camera, a wide-angle, zoom or fixed focus lens, a drone, lens filters, memory cards, and batteries.

5. A Feast for the Eyes: Food Photography

Food photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing visually appealing images of food. It falls under the category of commercial photography and is commonly used in advertisements, magazines, packaging, menus and cookbooks. Professional food photography typically involves a team effort, including an art director, photographer, food stylist, prop stylist and their assistants. In recent times, with the rise of social media platforms, amateur food photography has become increasingly popular among restaurant goers.

Notable food photographers: Lou Manna, Teri Lyn Fisher, Jenny Park

Essential equipment: A DSLR or mirrorless camera, a close-up lens, a tripod, reflecting screens, stroboscopic light source or monolights, a reflecting card or linen, diffusers.

6. Documenting the Big Day: Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is a specialized field of photography that primarily focuses on capturing the moments and activities associated with weddings. It involves capturing not only the official wedding day but also includes other types of portrait photography, like pre wedding engagement sessions, which are later used for the couple’s wedding invitations. During the wedding day(s), the photographer(s) take both posed portraits and candid shots to document all the various events and rituals that take place throughout the celebration.

Famous wedding photographers: Christian Oth, Danielle Real

Essential equipment: A mirrorless or DSLR camera, a 28-70 zoom lens and a 50mm prime, a diffuser or bounce card, extra memory cards, additional batteries, remote triggers or transceivers.

7. The World Up Close: Macro Photography

Macro photography involves capturing highly detailed images of small subjects such as insects. It’s about making visible the parts of our world that are usually unseen. Macro photography involves capturing close up images of small subjects, such as insects and flowers. Whether you’re in a studio or outdoors, the key is to magnify your subject effectively.

Notable macro photographers: Thomas Shahan, Mike Moats

Essential equipment: A suitable camera for macro photography, a close-up lens, macro extension tubes, reversing rings, a macro-friendly tripod, a macro shooting table, focusing rails.

8. In the Thick of Action: Sports Photography

As a part of photojournalism, sports photography captures the pinnacle moments in sports. A good sports photographer needs to understand the sport they’re covering to predict and capture the most dramatic moments. Sports photography encompasses a wide range of photography genres that capture various sports activities. Generally, professional sports photography falls under the category of photojournalism, while amateur sports photography, like capturing kids playing soccer, falls under vernacular photography.

Famous sports photographers: Petr Toman, Keeton Gale

Essential equipment: A mirrorless or DSLR camera, a zoom lens, high-speed SD cards, monopods, a charging station, a camera strap.

9. Life Unplanned: Street Photography

Street photography falls under the category of lifestyle photography, where the aim is to capture ordinary moments of everyday life in public spaces. The focus is on the mundane and commonplace scenes that often go unnoticed. Street photography, sometimes referred to as candid photography, captures spontaneous and unplanned moments in public spaces for artistic expression or exploration. While there may be a slight distinction between street and candid photography, most street photography is inherently candid and some candid shots can also be classified as street photography. It’s important to note that street photography doesn’t necessarily require the presence of an actual street or an urban setting. While people are often the main subjects, street photography can also focus on objects or environments that portray a distinctly human essence in terms of appearance or aesthetic appeal.

Notable street photographers: Eric Kim, Bruce Gilden

Essential equipment: A semi-professional mirrorless or DSLR camera, a fixed focus lens, extra SD cards, and batteries.

10. A Glimpse of Mother Earth: Landscape Photography

This genre captures the beauty of natural environments, from vast landscapes to tiny corners of nature. Sometimes, it also includes man-made features or changes in landscapes. Landscape photography captures the vastness and intricacy of the world, from expansive vistas to tiny details. It often showcases the beauty of nature, but can also highlight human interventions and changes in landscapes. People engage in landscape photography for various reasons. One common motivation is to preserve memories and experiences from time spent outdoors, particularly during travel. Others pursue it as a way to connect with nature and embrace an outdoor lifestyle, seeking solace from the artificiality of our modern world.

Notable landscape photographers: Adam Gibbs, Ted Gore, Alex Nail

Essential equipment: A waterproof or compact camera, a wide-angle lens, a flexible tripod, a remote trigger or shutter release, a waterproof camera bag, filters, and additional batteries.

11. Capturing Materiality: Product Photography

Product photography is a type of commercial photography that aims to highlight the unique design and important characteristics of various products.

Product photography is a type of commercial photography that aims to showcase a product in its best possible light through captivating images. Achieving outstanding product photography involves considering essential elements such as proper lighting, suitable backgrounds, precise camera focus with the right depth of field, favorable angles and meticulous editing.

Professional ecommerce photography plays a crucial role in helping customers make informed decisions when comparing similar products. Therefore, it is highly recommended for sellers to utilize professional product photographs to stay competitive in the evolving marketplace of 2023. Moreover, there are even newer types of product photographs that have emerged recently, providing buyers with enhanced capabilities to distinguish between different products.

Renowned product photographers: Tim Tadder, Harold Ross

Essential equipment: A suitable camera for product photography, a macro lens, a tabletop tripod, a white backdrop, LED lights, a photo light box, and metallic reflectors.

I’m Jim Hubbard, a professional photographer with a passion for capturing the world through my lens.

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