Most photographers specialise in a genre.
Like any profession, photographers tend to specialise in specific areas of the industry and hone their craft towards a particular genre. Most photographers will dabble in every genre but only specialise in a handful. For instance, i do not shoot weddings professionally. Ever. No ifs, No buts. However, i have done weddings non-professionally for a handful of close friends. Same goes for baby portraits.
So what genres are there? And how do you identify the correct photographer to work with on your upcoming project? Here are the main categories, and subcategories of photography.
Fashion and Editorial Photography
Fashion and Editorial photographers work with retailers, brands and magazines to create imagery for campaigns, print, web and social. Based in the studio or on location, these can be small productions for startups through to large multinational corporations brand campaigns. In its most basic form, fashion photography is of models advertising clothes. A fashion and editorial photographer will be an expert at lighting for models, and organising productions.
Still Life and Product Photography
In its most basic form, still life and product photography is very similar to fashion and editorial, just without the models. Many product photographers will even specialise in the kind of products they photograph, from fast food, to sports cars, handbags to iPhones. A still life and product photographer will be a master of colour combinations, compositions and fine tuned lighting setups.
Advertising photography is a specialism which is closely linked to the fashion and editorial, and still life and product. the main thing that sets advertising photography aside from these is the specific end usage. An advertising photographer is a studio lighting expert and a retouching master.
Beauty photographers spend their days photographing the highest cheekbones, the sleekest hairstyles and the plumpest of lips on the elites of the gene pool. Make up brands, hair stylists and magazines are the main clients of the beauty photographer. A beauty photographer will often have a specific lighting style which they adhere to as their brand look.
Portrait photographers are basically exactly like beauty photographers, but they work with the mere mortals of the gene pool. High end portrait photographers will work with celebrities, musicians, actors and politicians. At the lower end you have your high street family portrait photographers which is based around sales. Like the beauty photographers, a high end portrait photographer will tend to have their own unique (ish) style which they use.
Lifestyle and Commercial Photography
Lifestyle and Commercial photography are not quite the same, but for the purposes of this blog post i have lumped them in together (sorry to all the commercial and lifestyle photographers). Commercial and lifestyle photographers tend to work in the corporate section. Lifestyle and commercial photography can be made up of many of the other genres of photography and is more defined by its usage, or client type.
This one is pretty self explanatory. wedding photographers can be pretty neatly split into two groups (no i don’t mean good and expensive, and cheap and shite). Traditional wedding photographers who mainly focus on the group shots, and posed shots of the bride and groom, and then you have the reportage style wedding photographers, who will photograph a wedding with more of a photojournalistic or editorial vibe. Wedding photographers are very organised, and work well under pressure.
Photojournalists work in telling a story. Be it for editorial purposes, or for fine art purposes. Public opinion tends to get a bit divided on whether photojournalists should be telling a factually accurate story or not, but the key here is the story. I would also lump travel photography in here too, because in essence travel photography is telling the story of a location or journey.
Sports photographers are adept at taking photos of fast things. This is not a belittlement of the genre at all. People always think fashion photographers must have the most expensive equipment, but its actually the sports photographers who have the primo stuff. The fastest kit capable of capturing tack sharp images of subjects moving at high speeds from 300ft away. A good sports photographer will also have a deep understanding of the sports they photograph and will often specialise in specific events to ensure the know exactly when that shutter needs to fire.
Event and PR Photography
Event and Pr photographers are somewhere in between a lifestyle and commercial photographer and a photojournalist. An event and pr photographer works in high pressure environments often capturing moments in time which will not be repeated and often working in the worst lighting conditions (hotel function room…. hello!). Events and PR photographers are unsung heroes of the industry, their work often gets little recognition, they don’t win awards and their photos are often uncredited.
Fine Art Photography
I’ve thrown in fine art photography in here as a bit of a wild card. Fine art photographers are the actors of the industry. Everyone thinks they could be one, but only a handful actually get paid. Fine art photographers can be roughly separated into two fields. Photographers who play with the techniques of photography and photographers who play with the subject matter and technique is secondary.
Architecture and Interior Photography
In the most basic terms Architecture and interior photographers photograph buildings, both inside and out. These photographers are often very adept at using perspectives, crop and natural light to showcase the shape and form of architecture.
Scientific and Specialist Photography
Another slight wild card here. Science and specialist photographers are the documenters of various different fields. Police, museums and hospitals etc. are the clients for the specialist photographer. Often speciality photographer will also be adept at cataloguing and organising, and may have specific training in handling certain items.
One thought on “Top Types of Professional Photography”
Nice write up. I’ve been in photography for over 30 years. It’s all photography to me. I’ve shot weddings for years, real estate, architecture, promos for people, headshots, etc. For me it boils down to what I love most and that would be anything without people in it….unless they’re cool to work with. It’s all art to me and nothing is limiting…but that’s me.
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