11 Types of Photography Every Photographer Should Know

From weddings to wildlife, there’s something for everyone

If you’re just getting into photography, you may see yourself as a portrait photographer or a nature photographer, but there are so many different types of photography that you’re not limited to just taking family pictures or landscape shots. We research to find out how many different types of photography there are (more than 60) and decided to share a handful that new photographers (even those with a beginner's DSLR) might be interested in.

01
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Black & White Photography

A black and white photo of a young girl's eyes.

 Kat Jayne / Pexels

As the name applies, Black & White (B&W) photography focuses on uses only black and white (and shades of gray) to capture your images. When done well, B&W photography can be stunning, but when you take color out of a scene, it’s much harder to capture the emotion of the scene, so this type of photography is difficult to master. 

The market for B&W photography is fairly vast, as these images can range from portraits to products and landscapes to lifestyle photos. But even if you’re just in it for the challenge of creating something beautiful, professional B&W photographers say learning to shoot without color has helped them to shoot better in full color. And since B&W photography can cross all genres, it’s full of choices for subjects.

02
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Commercial Photography

A product shot of a muscle car.

 Lance Asper / Unsplash

If you’ve ever seen an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper (or on a billboard and in one of a thousand or so other places) then you know what commercial photography is. It’s mostly product shots, though there can be plenty of room for creativity in this type of photography. What makes it especially challenging, however, is that you have to adhere to a client’s vision for the shots you plan to capture. 

The market for commercial photography is always good, though it can be hard to break into. If this is the genre that interests you, start building a portfolio as soon as possible, and try to keep it fresh as new products are released. If you can bring your own spin to these photographs, you stand a better chance of breaking into the market. Similar types of photography include food photography, fashion photography, and product photography.

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Creative Photography

A creative picture of a bolt and a nut.

StockVault 

Creative photography can be images of just about anything; what’s really important is how creative you can be when capturing photographs that move people. You probably see creative photography every day and just don’t realize it. It can be HDR imaging or pictures that are taken from an unusual perspective. You may even see fish-eye lenses or colored lens filters used in creative filters.

Creative photography is probably the hardest to sell, because the subject can be very abstract. Most often, you’ll find creative photography in galleries, but occasionally an agency can pick up a creative photographers work for advertising backgrounds or something similar. Similar types of photography include fine art photography, conceptual photography, and composite photography.

04
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Editorial Photography

A Japanese businessman during a press conference.

BEHROUZ MEHRI/Getty Images 

If you love chasing the news, then editorial photography is for you. In most cases, this genre of photography covers the images that you’ll see in magazines and newspapers. It’s photography that tells a story and can include events or people in candid moments. It sounds simple, but getting the right shot at the right time can be challenging.

The job market for editorial photographers is tight and many of them work as freelancers (or stringers in newspaper lingo). If this is where your passion is, there are plenty of guides available to help you as you try to break into the market. Similar types of photography include documentary photography and photojournalism.

05
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Lifestyle Photography

A woman lounging in a hammock in the wilderness.

 Zach Betten/Unsplash

The images that you often see in magazines and online that show families lounging in front of a television or garden tea parties are called Lifestyle images. Lifestyle photographers stage scenes that are a more perfect version of everyday life to be used commercially, usually for marketing purposes. A Lifestyle photographer needs to be able to clearly see how a scene could layout, whether it’s a family making breakfast together, a business person in a meeting, or an athlete getting ready for a daily training session. 

Because these are staged scenes, Lifestyle photographers may work on location and with changes subjects and will need to have a variety of equipment to achieve the correct lighting and desired effects. Clients will usually dictate the subject and feel of the scene. Lifestyle photographers are usually freelance, and similar types of photography include fashion photography, product photography, travel photography, amusement park photography, and street photography.

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Macro Photography

A macro photography of a flower stamen.

GeoffS/Morguefile 

There’s an entire world that exists just below most people’s level of attention. This macro world includes insects and other tiny subjects that Macro photographers spend loads of time photographing. You are probably most familiar with the insects captured in macro photography, but it goes much deeper than that, and can include all manner of subjects.

Photographers interested in Macro photography should be aware that some specialized equipment is necessary, and this is a challenging genre because the closer you get to a subject, the harder it is to get wide, sharp pictures. Scientific photography is a similar genre, using even more specialized equipment, especially for microbial images.

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Mobile Photography

A mobile photographer setting up a shot.

Ree / Pexels 

Believe it or not, mobile photography now has its own genre. The cameras on Mobile devices have advanced to the point that they capture great images in many different conditions. A photographer with a good eye can create mobile photographs that are hard to differentiate from DSLR photos. And, since a mobile camera goes anywhere, the variety of subjects and type of photos captured is endless.

The market for mobile photography is also growing. Mobile photographers may be able to sell their images as marketing photos, stock photos, or even fine art photos, depending on the subject. However it’s not as easy to create marketable mobile phone images as some may believe, so mobile photographers that want to stick with only their smartphone or other mobile device should plan for a long-term launch of any business based around mobile photography. Similar types of photography include drone photography and other remote-controlled device photography.

08
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Portrait Photography

An outdoor portrait of a young woman at sunset.

StockVault

Portraiture is where most photographers begin, because it’s easy to break into. If you can take good pictures of individuals, couples, and families, then you can build a Portrait photography business. Portrait photography can be done indoors or outside, with props or without, and without the need for additional lighting if you can tap into the natural light the sunshine provides.

Most successful Portrait photographers, however, spend years perfecting their craft. It’s one thing to capture a family photo. It’s another to create a portrait that conveys something moving about an individual, so don’t let this genre fool you. You can make money here, but to be a truly gifted portrait photographer takes thousands of hours of time invested. Wedding photography and pet photography are similar types of photography, but pet photography focuses on capturing portrait style photos of family pets.

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Sports Photography

A photography of women running a race.

Pixabay 

Are you a fan of all things sport? If you are, Sports photography might be the genre you’re looking for. What better reason (or way) is there to catch the big game, than to snag some amazing action photos of athletes in their element? Sports photography can be exciting, creative and fulfilling, but it will likely require some specialized equipment, like special lenses and photography lighting, and maybe even a different camera that can capture high-speed images faster than your average DSLR camera.

There is plenty of room for new sports photographers at community, regional, and national levels. Sports photographers can work as stringers for newspapers, freelancers for magazines and websites, and can even create stock sports images for marketing purposes. Wildlife photography is a similar style of photography, with some of the same skills and equipment required since wildlife is often on the move, and quickly at that.

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Stock Photography

A picture of a child on a tricycle taken from behind.

Gratisography 

Do you love taking pictures of everything? Stock photography might be a good niche for you. Stock photography is images that are captured of all types of subjects that can be sold to a stock photography vendor who will resell it to magazines, newspapers, websites, advertising agencies, and even individuals to use as they want to use it. In most cases, stock photography has to be attributed to the photographer, but you have no (or very little) control over how those photos are used.

Don’t expect to start selling stock photos right out of the gate, though. Even if you sign up with a service like Getty Images, Twenty20, or Shutterstock, you’ll earn a very small commission and it could take a long time to start getting noticed. But if all those images are doing is sitting on your hard drive, stock photography might be a great way to earn an extra cup of coffee now and then. And since stock photography crosses all genres, it gives you the freedom to try all kinds of images.

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Your Own Photography Style

A photo of a surfer inside the pipe of a wave.

Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash 

The different genres of photography are really just categories that images can fall into. The best photographers, however, take a genre and make it their own. For example, consider seascape photography. It is, as the name implies, photographs of seascapes. But many photographers, like Warren Keelan, took that genre and turned it on its head with very specific types of images—some photographers focused on surfers, others wildlife in the ocean, or like Keelan focusing on the actual waves and water in the ocean. 

You can do the same. Find the type of photography that really brings out your passion and then put your own spin on it. Don’t think about equipment or selling images. Just think about what makes you proud to be a photographer when you capture that perfect image of...whatever sends your passions soaring.