Styles & Types of Photography

types-of-photography-featured

You’re probably aware that there are far more styles and types of photography than just wedding, landscape and portrait.

However, you may be surprised to know just how many genres of this wonderful art there actually are!

If you’re looking to experiment with something new, or just want to kick-start a new photography career – look no further than this.

We’ll describe the most common types of photography, from Abstract all the way to Wildlife… with everything else in between!

The next time you pick up your camera, take a look through this list and attempt some amazing new photography genres.

Who knows – you may just find your new creative calling ;-)

Table of Contents

86 Creative Types of Photography in 2020

3D Photography

three-dimensional-image

Whether you use a regular digital camera, a smartphone app, or a dedicated 3d scanner and modelling software, this type of photography never fails to impress.

3D photos may remind you of vintage glasses with red and blue lenses, but today’s techniques yield much more convincing results.

Abstract Photography

Types of photography: abstract art.

Abstract photography is a way of creating and depicting a visual image that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the real world.

It’s a means of expressing ideas, thoughts and emotions through the different elements of a picture, without trying to create a traditional or realistic photo.

Adventure Photography

Action is one of the most adventurous photography types.

Adventure photography involves capturing images of activities like extreme sports and action-adventure.

Kayaking, rock climbing, spelunking and even sky-diving fall into this category. Action and 360-degree cameras are best suited to this genre.

Advertising Photography

One type of photography is advertising.
Advertising photography is a commercial venture where images are used for advertising purposes.

These photos might be used in magazines, newspapers, posters, billboards, books and also product catalogues like the one you get each week from your grocery store.

Generally speaking, this genre is more focused on the brand than individual products.

Aerial Photography

Aerial landscape photography.

Aerial photography involves images captured from a bird’s-eye view, usually from great heights.

While drones can capture aerial photos, this genre also encapsulates images taken from larger aircraft like planes, gliders, helicopters or even hot air balloons.

Aerial photos can be captured by the photographer personally, or by mounting camera equipment to airborne vehicles.

Architectural Photography

Architecture photography makes up one of the photographer types.

Architectural photography captures stunning shots of buildings – usually only the outside. Although with larger structures, photographing cavernous interiors is also part of the job.

These photographs may be used by architects to promote their designs and work.

Astrophotography

High quality gear is needed for shooting astrophotography.

Astrophotography is an incredible genre as it involved capturing images of the night sky. Much like astronomy, astrophotography can be used to capture images of deep space objects such as stars, planets and galaxies.

Black And White Photography

Capturing a subject in black and white is one of the different types of photography.

Black and white (or monochrome) photography is a little old school but incredibly popular. In this field, photographers only work in black and white and rely on tonal qualities, exposure and contrast to give an image character.

Blue Hour Photography

Some types of photographers prefer shooting at blue hour.

Blue hour photography describes being outdoors, capturing photos during what’s known as the ‘blue hour’.

Blue hour happens twice per day. It’s the brief period of unique light cast over a scene right before sunrise and after sunset. Shooting during this time results in moody pics with soft tones.

Boudoir Photography

Boudoir photography requires skill in interacting with the subject.

Boudoir photography is the art of photographing intimate and romantic scenes of the human form.

More often than not, you’ll see boudoir images captured in a bedroom or a living space. Another telling sign is the choice of clothing, or lack thereof, which sets a saucy tone.

Business Photography

Businesspeople at a laptop.

Business photography is often used in professional settings or in the workplace. Images can vary from a group of employees in a meeting to hard-hat wearing builders on a construction site.

The point of this genre is to help sell a business’ professional services or for use in internal communications.

Candid Photography

With candid types of photography, the subject is unaware of the camera.

This style is a little like street photography in that you usually photograph your subjects without them knowing it.

Candid photography is put to good use in situations where capturing someone in a natural state is desired. This way, people are not forcing a smile or changing their behaviour just to have a photo taken.

Child Photography

Some photographers specialise in portrait photography of children.

This is a fun genre usually employed by those who want to capture images of children for a client. A child photographer may take portraits of children or more likely snap them at play.

Cityscape Photography

Cityscapes are similar to landscape photography. Rights reserved Greg Cromie.

View Of Los Angeles Skyline At Sunset | Credit: Greg Cromie

Cityscape photography is a lot like capturing a landscape except that it’s done in an urban and built-up area.

Images of big city skylines are a popular form of art, especially if it’s your favourite city on display. Cityscapes can even be captured from the top of tall buildings or a helicopter.

Commercial Photography

Another type of photography is commercial.

This is a professional genre in which a photographer is hired to take pictures specifically to sell a service, promote a product or create a unique collection of photos for another business.

Composite Photography

Composite is an artistic type of photography.

Composite photography is a fantastic art form where a photographer will combine several images, overlays and even alternative mediums to create an image.

Taking the actual photos is just a small part of creating a composite – more time is spent afterwards in computer editing.

Concert Photography

Concert photographers get to attend shows and backstage events.

Concert photography involves someone attending music concerts, band rehearsals and even backstage events. Their role is to document the concert, usually for the sake of the band or a publication reviewing the event.

Crystal Ball Photography

Crystal ball photo.

Crystal ball photography has become a popular choice used a lot on social media platforms.

In this style, a clear glass ball is held up in front of the camera. When the image is taken, the background will be out of focus, but the ball will contain a perfectly crisp reflection of the same background.

Dance Photography

People dancing.

Similar to the concert genre, dance photography involves photographing performers on stage. This could be for classical ballet, modern dance, or any other style.

The images may include rehearsal and staged shots to be used for promotion and dancer portfolios.

Documentary Photography

Documentary photography captures people and world events.

Documentary photography is the process of capturing and detailing events, activities and even locations. The images captured will be used for historical purposes to be preserved for future generations.

A successful documentary photographer will often travel to far flung corners of the world to capture unique stories – a the ability to travel at a moment’s notice is a big asset.

Drone Photography

Drone shot of a forest from above.

Shooting with drones can be considered a form of aerial photography; however, the difference is that the photographer never leaves the ground.

With this photography type, a propeller-driven drone or robot is remotely controlled to achieve elevation and capture images of the land or subjects such as mountain tops and tall buildings.

Editorial Photography

Editorial photographers capture images for news stories.

Editorial photographs are those used in news sources such as newspapers and magazine articles. They’re also more commonly used in online media outlets and document everything that’s newsworthy.

See also the difference between editorial and commercial photography.

Event Photography

Capturing moments at festivals requires the right camera gear.

Event photography is a more generalised genre where a photographer is hired to capture special events. These could include family shoots, engagements, birthday parties, weddings, festivals, or corporate events and promotions.

The whole point is to document the experience of the guests, but you’ll usually need great people skills to get the most out of your subjects.

Family Photography

Opportunities to create lasting memories for clients make family portraiture a desirable subject matter.

Family photography is a style of portrait shoot that involves getting multiple family members into the photo. They can be staged line-ups or even candid shots to freeze time and record a family’s growth.

A lot of families organise annual portrait sessions to chart the passing of time.

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography jobs give fashion photographers the opportunity to create fashion photos for brands.

Fashion photography is another form of commercial work where images are taken of clothing and accessories. The clothes and fashion accessories can be laid out or styled on a model – there are usually art directors and stylists on a fashion shoot that can lend a hand with this.

Fashion photography can take place in a studio, a store, on location or even at live fashion shows. Location scouting is usually an important element in planning successful magazine shoots.

Femto Photography

Femto is a scientific process using exceptionally high frame rate.

Femto photography is a style used by scientists to take high-speed photos that freeze the movement of light.

The camera works at a trillion frames per second and captures photons in motion.

Film Photography

Film technology that came before digital.

Film photography is where the medium first originated as far back as the 1800s.

Old-school cameras use a roll of film made from cellulose material. Not unlike a digital camera, a film camera would expose the film to light for a fraction of a second to record the scene on the cell.

Nowadays, with modern post-processing software, it’s simple to recreate the vintage photography look of film, but most film photographers would never consider it!

Fine Art Photography

Fine art photographers can get truly creative and tell a story with their vision.

As the name suggests, fine art photography is an art form where images fulfil an artistic purpose. Fine art images are often displayed in galleries or are sold to collectors or those with the cash to display them in their homes.

Fish-Eye Photography

Photographers use fish eye lenses that give distorted effects.

The fish-eye style produces some incredibly exciting and distorted images. This is due to the specialist ultra-wide-angle lenses used.

The wide field of view captures an image that includes a lot of peripheral details. Sometimes you’ll even capture your feet in the picture.

Flat Lay Photography

food on table

Shotkit is the home to the camera gear flat lay, but this type of photography of exists in multiple genres. It’s also one of the most popular styles for product photography on Instagram in 2020.

Good lighting, creative backgrounds, unusual props and accurate placement of objects all add up to a successful flat lay photo, which can often be sold on stock photography sites.

Food Photography

Food photos require a particular skill set and styling.

Food photography is enjoying popularity thanks to the social media craze of people photographing their meals with their phones.

Professional food photography will see a dish and its ingredients stylised for the shot. These images are used by restaurants for advertising and menus, and by publications about food.

Forced Perspective Photography

Photographers can create interesting results with forced perspective.

Forced perspective relies on a bit of a camera trick. It’s all about creating a form of illusion through the placement of subjects and the positioning of the photographer to fool the natural scale.

Forensic Photography

Professional photographers may choose to go into the forensic sub genre.

Forensic photography, or crime scene photography, involves the documentation of a crime scene. Police and security organisations employ these photographers. It’s hard to comprehend some of the scenes they’re called in to photograph.

Glamour Photography

Studio sessions are used for glamour fashion shoots. Lighting setups and a shot list are important.

Glamour photography is very similar to boudoir but usually leans more to headshot portraits rather than body nudes.

These are more often than not images of female subjects with their hair and makeup prepared by a professional. These can be used for professional or personal purposes.

Glitch Photography

Glitch art imagery.

Glitch photography is an exciting and creative genre that requires forced defects to be introduced to create an image. A glitch can be caused by damaging or manipulating the camera or by manually altering the data contained within an image file.

Golden Hour Photography

Golden hour makes for beautiful shooting conditions even in low light.

Golden hour is often considered the best time of the day to capture images with natural light. It covers the time just after sunrise and just before sunset when the light turns to a warmer hue.

Landscape photographers love this time of day as their scenes are bathed in gorgeous light.

Headshot Photography

Headshot of a man.

Headshot photography is another form of portraiture. The difference is that with this style, you’re only photographing the subject’s head.

These photos are used for business websites, personal portfolios, security passes and even the standard driver’s licence.

See: how to take a professional headshot.

High Dynamic Range Photography

HDR photos require a tripod and plenty of practice.

High Dynamic Range or HDR photography is a process where you capture multiple images of the same scene. Some will be under-exposed and others over-exposed.

In post-processing, or sometimes in-camera, you can stack and blend these photos. That way, you end up with a single image with exceptional detail in both the light and darker areas.

High-Speed Photography

photography styles - shutter release to capture arrows

High-speed photography is used for scientific purposes but is also a fun pursuit.

To do this type of photography, a special high-speed camera is used with super-fast shutter speeds. Images taken will freeze even the fastest of subjects from cars to speeding bullets.

Holiday Photography

Family portraits during holiday time.

Holiday photography is a growing phenomenon where seasonal festivities are captured. This could be for family purposes, but more often is used for commercial purposes. Images of seasonal food, events, locations and how people interact are used for marketing purposes.

Indoor Photography

A professional photographer can use their lighting skills, lighting equipment and lighting techniques to shoot indoors.

While it’s relatively apparent, this genre involves taking photos while inside. The lack of natural light requires the photographer to set up alternative lights such as strobes and flash. This genre tends to be called upon for commercial shoots.

Infrared Photography

Infrared image of trees reflected in a lake.

Infrared photography has been around for a very long time. The process means that to create the image, infrared light is captured by the camera and, as a result, records light and dark differently to a standard image.

You can create stunning shots with an infrared camera, filter or editing process.

Kinetic Photography

Kinetic sub genres record motion blur.

Kinetic photography sees you move your camera not to capture movement, but to create it. While this goes against every rule of photography, fast and purposeful movement of a camera can result in fun and dynamic images.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is one of the most popular types of photography.

Landscape photography is one of the most significant genres, and its popularity has not diminished with time.

It involves finding and photographing beautiful landscapes to celebrate the natural world.

Landscape photos can be sold for thousands of dollars in some cases, especially when the location is remote or unique in some way.

Lifestyle Photography

Woman drinking coffee.

Lifestyle photography is all about freezing a scene involving people interacting with their world. But, unlike street photography, this one is mostly staged and unobtainable.

The images are primarily used for commercial purposes, such as selling a product like cars or fashion.

Light Painting Photography

Light painting creates beautiful effects.

Light painting is the fun and creative process of using long exposures – see next genre below – to build a mesmerising image. While the shutter is open, you can run around with a torch, spin a fire-stick or even play with sparklers.

The final image will show the entire path of the light source within the composition.

Long Exposure Photography

Long exposures use an open shutter.

As hinted at above, long exposure photography means you can alter camera settings to force the shutter open for long periods of time. A standard photo might see around 1/250 shutter speed. But a long exposure can result in the shutter exposed for several seconds, minutes or even longer.

Long exposure is most commonly used for night shots and astrophotography.

Macro Photography

Macro image of a bug.

Macro photography allows you to use a unique lens to photograph teeny tiny objects. The most common form of macro is to get down low and photograph insects and tiny plantlife. These pictures bring the minute and often unseen critters to larger-than-life scale.

Maternity Photography

Maternity shoot featuring pregnant woman.

This sub-genre documents a woman’s progress towards childbirth. These images are often commissioned to celebrate the wonders of pregnancy. These photos are essential as they form the first half of a before and after shot to remember forever.

Milk Bath Photography

milk-bath

Credit: Anastasya Pavlova

This niche style of photography was popularised by a photo by Annie Leibovitz of Woopie Goldberg in a bath full of milk, made for Vanity Fair in 1984. By diluting a tub of bath water with milk, photographers can create some creative images of their subject surrounded by hazy white water.

Milky Way Photography

Milky Way galaxy.

Milky Way photography is a specialised form of astrophotography that focuses on the Milky Way. With the right gear, time and the right time of year, you can capture mind-blowing images of the galactic core.

In this situation, long exposure photography comes into play to allow as much light as possible to hit the camera image sensor.

Minimalist Photography

Minimalist imagery.

Minimalism is a stylistic art form where photographers will take pics of a scene or setting with minimal elements and subjects. In the spirit of minimalism, that’s all I’m going to say.

Mobile Photography

Event photographers and documentary photographers can even use mobile phones.

Mobile photography is a booming genre where people use their smart device as an everyday camera. Beyond this, there’s a growing industry of professional mobile photographers creating art and commercial work with their phones.

If you’d like to get better at taking photos with your phone, see this review.

Monochrome Photography

monochrome-photography

Often confused with black & white photography, monochrome refers to photographs that show variations of just one colour.

In this way, a b & w photo can be classed as monochrome, since it uses variations of a single colur, but a monochrome photo can be created with variations of any other colour in the spectrum.

Motion Photography

Motion shot of a train.

Motion photography is a lot more controlled than kinetic photography but follows a similar style.

With this genre, a photographer will use the controlled movement of a camera or subject intentionally. As a result, the image will have smooth and blurred lines that create a sense of movement.

Motorsport Photography

sports photographers capture cars

Motorsport photography is a niche off-shoot of sports photography.

Photographers will photograph anything and everything to do with cars and motorbikes. There’s a huge demand for this kind of imagery from fans and it can include races, car shows and promotional events.

Multiple Exposure Photography

Man and skyline multiple exposures.

Multiple exposures photography is exactly as is sounds: you use numerous images and overlay them to form one.

This can be done in some cameras but more commonly is achieved with editing tools. The results can be very creative and tell a unique story to the viewer.

Newborn Photography

Anne Gedes style newborn image.

Newborn photographers capture photos of a newborn child, often styled using cute outfits and props. The time that we’re babies is fleeting and being able to document it in a beautiful setting is essential to many parents.

The type of photographer who shoots newborn portraits often also works in maternity photography.

Night Photography

People singing on beach.

Night photography is similar to indoor photography in that you need to alter camera settings and introduce additional lights to be able to take a shot. An alternative is to use no other light sources but instead rely on long-exposure techniques to create an image.

Panorama Photography

Panorama is a panned shot with multiple photographs stitched together.

Most modern cameras and mobile devices have a setting to create panorama photography. These are images where you pan the camera slowly around a scene, which is usually of a vast landscape.

The camera is actually taking multiple shots and ‘stitching’ them together to form a single wide image.

Pinhole Photography

A pinhole machine creates a hazy image.

Credit: Kevin Laminto

Pinhole photography is another old-school photography where a crude camera box is made with a tiny pinhole opening. This momentarily lets in light that hits a piece of photographic paper. The exposed paper captures a not-so-clear image.

Pet Photography

Portraiture of pets with bokeh effect.

Pet photography is another form of portraiture, but in place of humans, you photograph someone’s beloved pets.

This is a specialist genre, as you have to be able to manage animal behaviour. You also need to be prepared to photograph everything from a rat to a prized pig.

Photojournalism

Photojournalism captures people and real world events.

Photojournalism is one of the oldest forms of photography and is a vital part of the news media world. Images captured in this style are used for news-related publications and online platforms. It’s influenced by a whole array of other genres.

Portrait Photography

Photographers of portrait photography shoot close ups of people.

Portrait photography incorporates many of the styles we’ve already covered here. It’s the skill of photographing people or yourself in a range of settings and situations. Portraiture traditionally focused on the head and upper torso.

The purpose of such photos varies wildly from fine-art to police mug-shots – because of this, portrait photographers are always in high demand.

Prism Photography

Use a prism to create unique artworks.

As we discovered with the crystal ball, holding a glass object in front of the lens can produce amazing results.

Prism photography is no different as the image appears fractured via the angled glass. It can be a very creative effect that draws in the viewer.

Product Photography

Product photography is one of the commercial types of photography where you shoot high quality images of products.

Product photography is another tool used in the commercial and advertising world. We live in a time of intense consumerism, and the best way to represent a product is to take and publish photos of it.

This style covers taking photos of everything from tea bags to T-shirts.

Real Estate Photography

Real estate shoots require sunlight or a good lighting setup.

Real estate photography takes place in and around properties that are for sale or lease. A photographer will take pictures of the outside of the building, often using specialty lenses, to represent and sell the site.

Real estate photographers also take shots of every interior room and space, styled to make the property attractive.

Satellite Photography

Satellite image by NASA.

Credit: NASA

Satellite photography doesn’t involve a photographer – at least not a human one. A satellite that’s orbiting the earth can be remotely controlled to capture super-high-altitude shots of areas of the planet.

These photos are used for weather forecasting, disaster recovery and also military purposes.

Scientific Photography

Scientific image of microscopic matter.

This photography genre is always evolving to document scientific discoveries and pursuits.

It’s a pretty wide field of study, but being able to document such activities for review and historical preservation is critical.

Seascape Photography

Seascape of blue ocean.

Photographing seascapes is similar to the landscapes genre, with the exception that there’s less land and much more ocean. These images may be taken to create visually stunning works or for more commercial reasons.

Social Media Photography

Social networking uses mobile devices.

Social media photography is a blend of almost every photographic genre – especially mobile photography. Being able to capture and quickly share images on social platforms is now a part of our everyday life. And who can forget a quality selfie complete with filters, effects, stickers and text?

Sports Photography

Capturing sports requires fast shutter and high frames per second FPS.

This is a broad genre that covers so many types of sports performed in every corner of the globe. One thing that stands out with sports photography is the need for cameras that can shoot high-speed bursts along with telephoto lenses.

Star Trails Photography

star-trails-photography-featured

This is a form of astro-photography that involves capturing a picture of the night sky with multiple lines of stars streaking across it, creating ‘trails’. The two main types of star trails photography are star lines and star circles, depending on the direction you point your lens.

Still Life Photography

Still life ideas for your next creative project.

Still life photography is pretty much the same as still life painting – an art form that has been around for centuries.

With this style, you photograph inanimate objects, usually placed in a purposeful and artistic arrangement. Still life photography and fine art photography often blend due to their similarities.

Stock Photography

Stock photos are useful for websites.

A great example of stock photography is the imagery used right here in this article. Photographers submit and sell a broad range of image styles to special stock photo sites. The site then allows others to use them – usually for a price – for various applications. You can learn about how to make money with stock photography here.

Street Photography

Street photography falls under types of photography that are candid.

Street photography is a blend of the candid, architectural and photojournalism genres all rolled into one.

The easiest way to define it is the documentation of people interacting with their world in public places. Taking street photos may seem simple, but capturing subjects up close while remaining candid (and polite!), is actually quite challenging.

Tilt-Shift Photography

Tilt shift image of a castle.

Tilt-shift photography is a specialist genre and, as such, requires specialised tools such as a tilt-shift lens. It’s a creative genre that shifts the focal plane to distort perspective and scale. While it’s a lot of fun, the lenses are not cheap.

Time-Lapse Photography

Time lapses are fun to create.

Time-lapse is a little like stop-motion animation. Instead of manipulating the subject, however, you usually let nature take its course. It involves multiple images being taken over a period of time which are then played in sequence – much like a video.

You could use a time-lapse sequence to capture a thunderstorm rolling in or a city becoming dark, for example, only the action is sped up.

Travel Photography

Travel through Asian landscape.

Travel photography is just as it sounds – taking photos of unique and beautiful locations all over the world. Some people get into travel photography as a profession, while the rest of us take holidays pics for fun.

Underwater Photography

Underwater woman in bikini.

Underwater photography creates a window into a world that many of us would otherwise never get to see. Using diving gear and underwater cameras enables you to explore a whole new world. The results are often visually stunning and captivating.

Urban Exploration Photography

Urban exploration focuses on abandoned buildings.

There’s something very mystical about urban exploration photography. More often than not, this style plays out around and inside abandoned sites and buildings. It’s an urban style of photographic archaeology with a moody element thrown in.

War Photography

Photojournalists going to war with photographic equipment require courage.

This genre is an off-shoot of photojournalism, but in this case, it involves a photographer finding themselves in the middle of war zones.

War or conflict photography is not without its risks, as you document real-life crises unfolding around you. There have been several cases of war photographers being captured or injured while performing their jobs.

Weather Photography

Lightning in the sky.

Some people find studying the weather to be a fascinating hobby – and then, of course, some make it a career. Photographing weather patterns, occurrences, and events provide a platform to see nature at its worst and best.

Wedding Photography

Wedding photographer - happy couple.

Wedding photography is by far one of the most popular genres and photography professions. Wedding shoots are big business, and there’s a tremendous amount of competition in the industry.

Being able to capture a couple’s special day successfully is an exercise in strategic planning, and can lead to a fair amount of stress  – wedding photographers certainly earn their money!

Wildlife Photography

Wildlife deer in the snow.

Wildlife photography is another one of those photography pursuits that get your out in nature. This genre exposes you to the absolute beauty of nature and how animals interact within their ecosystem.

The plight of wildlife on earth makes this genre an essential part of the preservation process.

Final Words

With so many different types of photography to choose from, you should have no shortage of ideas for the subject of your next creative project.

Which styles are most appealing to you? Have you dabbled in any others that aren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments!

I am a Melbourne based street photographer and blogger. I love to travel and make a regular trip to Japan to photograph and document its dynamic culture.

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