Which type of photography should I master? That is probably the most challenging decision to make when you are starting your pursuit of photography as a career. When you think of all of the various subjects there are to capture, and all of the different ways to create the image, the field of photography really is dynamic and varied. There is something for everyone in photography, and the types of photography jobs are just as exciting.
We have compiled the most popular 15 genres of photography. Of course, this list is not all-inclusive, since there are many careers made in various niches within our industry. And there are also many careers that are not related directly to photography that require good photographic skills to complete. In today's social media connected world, many workers are taking photographs and sharing their experiences as part of their jobs.
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Here are the 15 types of photography genres you can pursue as a professional photographer:
#1 - Wedding Photography
The first type of photography job involves weddings and events. Many people go their entire lives and only pay for professional photography once, but nearly everyone hires a photographer for their wedding.
As a job, being a wedding photographer involves an exciting mix of portraiture and event photography in a wide variety of settings and groups. Wedding photography is pretty intense, with an element of getting the best shot you can on the first try and not really getting a second chance in some situations. Wedding photographers have to be quick on their feet, moving around during the reception and ceremony, and there are substantial sales and customer service components to their jobs. They also have to be adaptable, ready to shoot outdoors on a sunny day and indoors for dimly lit receptions and dances. Couples will expect the direction from the photographer for posing shots and settings, so the photographer must be confident and communicate well with the bride and groom.
The great wedding photographers are the ones who love their jobs. Many beginning photographers start shooting weddings because, as they say, “that’s where the money is.” But this mindset will ultimately lead to a disappointing business model if the photographer’s heart isn’t in their work.
#2 - Event Photography
In the same vein, event photography is a dynamic and fast-paced way to make a buck with your camera. Whether your beat is corporate events or wild and crazy rock concerts, event photographers work in a variety of settings. Event photography styles often involve a mixture of photojournalistic documentary work and portraiture. Some organizations use their event photos for publicity purposes, while other use party photos as souvenirs or keepsakes.
#3 - Portrait Photography
Portraiture is one of the most common types of photographer that we think of when we consider career options. The kinds of photography that can be included in portraits is astounding. Retail customers seek out portrait photographers for every phase of life: maternity and newborns, school photos, senior photos, and general family photos. Corporate portraits are also commonly needed as employees update their headshots for websites and publicity materials. Furthermore, aspiring and professional models are in constant need of updated portfolios with a catalog of current shots to market themselves for agencies and jobs.
Portrait photography is a great place to start out as a photographer. Building a great portfolio of quality shots can lead to more business. It can often lead to more work for families and weddings as word of mouth marketing does its magic. It can also lead to fashion and product photography gigs.
#4 - Product Photography
More specific than working in advertising, product photography is a great specialization. Think about all of the products you have recently shopped for: everything needs to be photographed. The photos are used for online and print catalogs, as well as for labels and packaging. Most product photography is studio based, with careful control of backgrounds, shadows, and lighting. Studio rentals can be fairly expensive so consider building a home photography studio on a budget.
Product photography covers a lot of ground. Food photography is a specialized niche, and restaurants need to advertise their meals and create their menus. Jewelry is another favorite type of product photography since this requires the perfect balance of light and preparation. While some product shoots might involve models, many times you will be working solo in a studio doing still life photographs of small objects.
#5 - Fine Art Photography
Of all of the types of photography, this is the one with no rules. Fine art photographers create art. They display their work in galleries and at art shows, and generally, they sell a finished, framed print product to their customers. Fine art photography can be of any subject at all, but landscape and portrait artists are probably the most common. Fine art images are about capturing emotional responses and communicating with the audience.
#6 - Fashion Photography
Fashion photography is one of the more glamorous and more difficult to enter photography jobs. From cover shots of the top fashion magazines to documenting the latest styles and trends on the runway, fashion photographers work in the design districts of New York, Paris, and Milan. Runway shoots require an element of documentary photography, while posed shoots on location demand one-on-one work with the model.
Catalog and magazine shoots might also occur on location, from tropical beaches to subway. In this style of glamour photography, the look of the photographs is everything. Lighting must be perfect. This is a job that is also focused on the model, so a majority of the photographers time is spent posing and directing models and scenes to get the look desired from the publication.
Fashion shoots are all about teamwork, and they are done by a group of people. The photographer is just one cog in the wheel. Stylists, wardrobe specialists, makeup artists, art directors, and others make up a team that keeps the shoot on track and make the magic happen.
#7 - Architectural Photography
While many find taking pictures of buildings to be a fun hobby, many specialized photographers make careers out of it. Employed by architectural agencies or working as freelancers, these photographers capture the essence of buildings from inception to completion. Details captured include the exteriors and interiors, and subtle details that make the building's design unique. Architectural photography requires some special techniques and equipment to minimize distortion and perspective problems that become apparent on a building’s many right angles.
A subdivision is real estate photography. Realtors always need excellent photographs, especially in today's market where many customers view many properties online before deciding to go see them. High-quality architectural pictures are difficult to get right, and realtors will pay for professional photos especially in the high-end market.
#8 - Travel Photography
Do you love to travel? Would you like to get paid for it? Who doesn’t? Travel photography allows you to do just that while having fun with your camera in dynamic settings. Travel photography blends many different types of photography into one. On one trip you might want to focus on the people and the lifestyles present in a place, while also capturing the landscapes and the natural world in which it’s located. Macro details and wildlife photography might be included too. Be it on the beaches of Bali or the ice fields of Antartica, the job of a travel photographer is to transport their audience to that place without them having to leave home.
#9 - Advertising or Lifestyle Photography
Everywhere we go we are surrounded by photography. Photography is on billboards, street signs, magazine ads, even in our pockets on our smartphones. Captivating photography makes the advertising world tick, and photography has never been more in demand than it is right now.
Advertising photography can include a range of subjects, like street photography, lifestyle photography, fashion photography, or product photography. Advertising photographers can work as freelancers, selling images on a project-by-project basis, or they might work directly for major ad agencies. Either way, this is a dynamic field where you may be shooting for a print ads campaign one day and shooting internet ads the next, always with a new subject.
#10 - Photojournalism
Whether it be in war zones, political rallies, natural disasters, or community celebrations, photojournalists cover breaking news. Newspapers, magazines, and online publications are all in need of still photographs to help tell their stories. Photojournalism is one of the documentary types of photography, and the goal of a photojournalist is to document the events as they unfold. While there may be some portraiture, the majority of work is done candidly and as unobtrusively as possible. The photos tell a story of events that are happening all over the world.
#11 - Pet Photography
If your perfect subject is a furry friend, then pet photography might be for you. This is a growing sector and is very similar in working conditions and type of styles to portraiture; only your subjects may require treats when they are good. If you love animals, then there is no better job as a photographer. Pet photography involves a fun mix of studio sessions and outdoor, on-location shoots. With connections to your local pet daycare facilities and dog show circuits, you can build your business fairly quickly. A great way to start out is to volunteer your time to your local pound, taking pictures of the animals and helping them find their forever homes.
#12 - Sports Photography
If you love sports, then being a sports photographer is a great gig. From the sidelines, sports photographers use quick cameras and long lenses to zoom in on the action and capture the winning shots. Photos wind up in publicity materials for teams, in advertising and marketing, and in the news media online and in print.
#13 - Aerial Photography
A burgeoning field of photography born from modern technology is the aerial photographer. Sure, aerial images have been around as long as manned flight and cameras have been. But today, unmanned aerial vehiclesaerial vehicles, also called drones, are making aerials within the realm of all photographers. In the US and most countries, commercial drone pilots must be licensed. The process is relatively simple and usually requires only a written exam. Aerial photography is now used for everything from architectural and real estate photography to weddings and events. The unique perspective given by drones can’t be beaten for uniqueness and beauty.
#14 - Scientific or Specialty Photography
Many fields rely on great photography for publications, training materials, and record keeping. Many scientific and medical research companies employ photographers to document new findings and discoveries.
Many other industries rely on photos to conduct surveys and studies. For example, in Florida, aerial wildlife studies are routinely performed to study the numbers of manatees and birds living in remote areas. Many insurance companies rely on photographers to inspect homes and buildings, sending their photographic findings to the company to document damage or condition.
These are just a few examples of the specialized fields that use photography regularly. With open eyes and ears, working photographers can find remarkable jobs working with governments and private companies all over the world.
#15 - Stock Photography
If all of these types of photography jobs sounded good to you, you might make a great stock photographer. Stock photographers sell the rights to use their images through catalogs. They can work as a freelancer, but more often than not photographers allow agencies to handle their sales. Stock sales usually don’t pay very much per use, but the goal of a successful stock photographer is to have an extensive catalog of images that sell often. As a result, once the photos are uploaded and being sold, they provide a source of on-going passive income.
The advantage of selling stock photos is that you can sell any type of image you want. These images are used by major ad agencies and small websites. Whether you like to shoot sunsets, people, kids, pets, or wildlife, you can probably sell your images as stock. Once the photos are captured, a lot of time is spent cataloging and keywording images to ensure that customers can find them.
It’s almost impossible to compile a list of all of the different types of photography that you can earn money from. For your photography career, it can be difficult choosing which path to take. Many photographers try out many paths in their career until they find the one that suits them best. The most successful photographers work in a niche, something that they specialize in that few others do. The possibilities are endless, and finding your niche is half the fun. So, which kinds of photography would you like to master?
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