With the click of a shutter, we’re able to capture the world before us. Photography allows us to preserve the history of any moment in time. This is why photography is so beloved by many. And with the advent of smartphone technology, almost anyone can be a photographer.
There are many forms of photography—many with different styles and techniques. If you’re an aspiring photographer, there are a lot of avenues that you can take. There is a genre of photography for everyone, and you simply have to explore and experiment to find what will fit you best.
Let’s take a look at some these photography genres.
1. Newborn Photography
There is nothing quite as soothing (or adorable) as looking at a newborn baby in a crisp, professional photograph. Newborn photography is a fascinating genre, but it’s one that requires a certain set of skills. For one, the photographer needs to be able to keep the baby calm, so it helps if the photographer has experience dealing with infants. Typically, the best time to shoot newborns are when they are 2-6 weeks old, as they are often sleepy and can be easy to mold and give directions to.
2. Artistic Photography
There is no set definition to describe artistic photography. The reason for this is simple: there is no concrete definition of “art”. An artform can be a statement, an idea, a vision, an expression—whatever the artist deems fit. Historically, artistic photographs were made to imitate the look and atmosphere of a painting. Currently, artistic photographs aim to communicate an expression—whether it be personal or universal. An artistic photograph may represent something concrete, or it may not represent anything at all. The photograph must intentionally express a message, idea or emotion.
3. Aerial Photography
An aerial photograph is one that is taken while in an elevated position. Aircrafts, balloons, helicopters, parachutes and drones are commonly used to hoist the photographer or a remotely controlled camera in the air. The most stunning vistas can be captured from a bird’s eye view, and all you have to do is take your camera into the sky and click the shutter button.
4. Action Photography
Photography sports and action is all about speed and precision. You’re essentially freezing a moving object, and you need to capture the photo in sharp detail. For this to happen, you need to be prepared. Typically, sporting events are captured with long lenses, and the camera settings are usually tweaked to optimize the setting. Here are some tips to keep in mind when shooting action photos:
- Use a fast shutter speed. Put your camera in Shutter Priority mode. For action moments, you will want to put the speed at 1/500 of a second.
- Widen your aperture. Opening your aperture will allow you to shoot better photos with a faster shutter speed. A wider aperture also produces a shallow depth of field, which helps to blur background element and focuses on the main subject.
- Use a high ISO. A higher ISO is conducive to shooting with a fast shutter speed.
5. Landscape Photography
The world around us can be awe-inspiring, and one of the best ways to witness its beauty is with a stunning photograph. Landscape photography can show nature at its finest. Snapping a great landscape photo can be as much about timing as it is about skill level or the quality of one’s equipment, as you need good lighting (which often depends on the time of day) to take a great shot.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shooting landscape photos:
- Use a tripod. A shaky hand can lead to blurry photos. To avoid this, use a tripod. A tripod is especially useful when you lengthen your shutter speed or increase your ISO.
- Identify the best subject. Every shot needs a main subject, and landscape photos aren’t any different. You want the viewer’s eye to focus on something that will grab their attention, and for that to happen, you need a subject. A subject can be any element in the landscape, but it needs to be positioned in a way that grabs attention.
- Consider the background and foreground. The foreground and background of a photo can help to add serious depth to the shot.
6. Urban Photography
The scenery of a city can make for an interesting photo. With urban photography, there are a number of different subjects that you can shoot:
- Architecture. The buildings of a city occupy a great deal of space, and they make for great photos. You can shoot the interior or exterior of your city’s buildings.
- People. Living, breathing people give the city life. Shooting photos of people in their everyday lives can create some unique, breathtaking shots.
- Beauty. There are likely some beautiful areas in your city that are perfect for photography. It can be your local park, the city’s downtown area, or a certain landmark. Whatever it is, use it as a springboard for a beautiful urban shot.
- Decay. You don’t always have to shoot pristine spaces. The grime and decay of a city can be beautiful in its own way. Graffiti, crumbling architecture and abandoned areas can demonstrate urban decay.
7. Night Photography
Night photography requires a totally different approach than day photography. Certain photography rules that are needed for the daytime need to be either scrapped or adapted for the night. You need in-depth knowledge on how to work with light (and the lack of it), exposures, different shutter speeds, and aperture differences. While photographing at night can be a challenge—especially if you don’t have much experience doing so—it can offer some very rewarding shots. To master night photography, you will need to play with ISO, aperture, focus and white balance settings.
8. Architectural Photography
Architecture is all around us. It can be a castle or a cabin; a skyscraper or a shack. When shooting architecture, a certain building or structure is usually the focal point, and it’s important that you position the camera to showcase the architecture in the best way.
9. Portrait Photography
Capturing someone’s face can be fascinating, but it can also pose a challenge. Many subjects that you photograph will go into the shoot believing that they are not photogenic, but that is often far from the truth. If someone is “not photogenic,” it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good subject for a photo, it often means that they are not comfortable in front of the camera. As a photographer, it’s your job to make them feel comfortable, and to find the best way to shoot and position their face. To make a subject comfortable, find a way to connect with them—through conversation or cracking a light joke or two. To make sure that you take the best photo possible, consider the lighting, the positioning of the camera, the background of the photo, and any important camera settings.
10. Nature Photography
The earth is strikingly beautiful, and the job of a nature photographer is to capture its beauty. Nature photography can overlap with landscape photography, but it encompasses more than landscapes. It can include shots of wildlife: birds, animals, insects and nature’s most common elements. Wildlife photography requires thorough preparedness and an ability to snap photos at a moment’s notice, as the opportunity for the perfect shot can disappear within the blink of an eye. If you decide to shoot live animals, you need to be comfortable in their habitats, and you need to take the proper safety measures to ensure that you remain unharmed.
11. Photography Blogging
Showcase your skills and talent with a photography blog. Many of the best photographers have a blog that they regularly update, and you should have one, too. As a photography blogger, you can make a name for yourself in your photography niche, and you can market your photography business to more prospects.
Post only your best photos, and add context to the photos. Talk about the photos: why you did the shoot, who you did it for, and what you learned from it.
12. Model Photography
Models need great photographers to advance their careers; photographers doing editorial work need good models to grow their portfolio, and increase their chance of obtaining clients. If you’re an inexperienced photographer, finding a model to shoot may be a bit difficult, as you’ve likely worked with very few professional models. If this is the case, you can use modeling talent websites like Model Mayhem to find up-and-coming models.
When finding a model to shoot, you may have to offer something of value, depending on the dynamics of the relationship. If you’re a photographer who’s wet behind the ears, you will most likely have to pay the model something for their time, unless the model is also very inexperienced. If you and the model are on a level playing field in your professional careers, then you will probably do what’s called “trade time for print”. Trading time for print means that you and the model are exchanging time and services—the model receives professional photos, and the photographer adds a notch to his portfolio. It’s a win-win.
As you accumulate more model photos in your portfolio, you will receive more paid work. The top-tier model photographers handle editorial shoots for major magazines, which can be very lucrative.
Photography is an artform that is as expansive as the world before you. You have countless opportunities to snap that perfect photo. Experiment with different genres, take risks, make mistakes, learn the craft, and find a style that will work best for you. As a photographer, you are armed with your camera, intuition, knowledge and experience. Use all of it to become the best photographer that you can be.
*Update: Check out a 13th genre, Black & White Photography, mentioned here by Taya of MCP Actions™.