What are the Different Types of Photography?
Because photography encompasses so many niches, there are hundreds of types to follow and try. Some examples of types of photography include:
- Black and White Photography
- Experimental Photography
- Travel Photography
- Landscape Photography
- Advertising Photography
- Wedding Photography
- HDR Photography
- Fashion Photography
- Aerial Photography
- Street Photography
- Sports Photography
- Portrait Photography
- Still Life Photography
- Abstract Photography
In terms of art, photography is a relatively new medium, dating back roughly two-hundred years. In just two centuries, photography has given birth to a number of sub-mediums, or “styles.”
Depending on your intended final product, one style could make or break your design. Specific styles have their own appeal, and with time, practice, and a little luck, you can learn various methods. We have explored the above listed styles, so you can find one perfect for your own photography needs!
Black and White Photography
Black and white photography (B/W or B&W) is often used by journalists and professionals, and it continues to be one of the favored forms of monochromatic art. While photography may be new, color photography is a far more recent development. Perhaps this is why B&W images are used (and often ideal) for creating a certain sense of timelessness.
Because black and white photography is so often used in journalism, we often equate B&W photos to honesty. In the same way serif font might trick us into believing something is more reliable/scholarly, B&W photography’s unique look gives us the sensation of truth. Check out a few strong examples of black and white photography we’ve put together here on Vandelay.
Experimental photography uses photo manipulation to alter our perceptions as well as our expectations. Photographers often use this type of art to tell a story or create art specific to their cause (e.g. cover art, fantastical photographs, and even advertisements).
Travel photography can be deeply personal or highly sellable, depending on the specific content. We’ve all seen (and drooled over) travel blogs and websites, in which people document everything from Stonehenge to hotel rooms. In defining travel photography, it really comes down to the story; the photographer captures new sites and we get to see those sites from their perspective.
Landscape photography is perhaps one of the most traditional photography styles, and it’s no mystery as to why; our world has fantastic views. Capturing landscapes through photography is a powerful skill, as it often allows an honest documentation of nature. However, you may notice landscape photography does not always capture nature exclusively. Photographing landscapes can also include cityscapes, bridges, and historical buildings. Some great examples of landscape photography are demonstrated here.
As you may have guessed, advertising photography falls on the commercial end of the photography spectrum. This style is used by brands, freelancers, businesses, (small and large) and many others to market products and services. Advertising photography can be utilized across a number of platforms, especially as social media and product design continue to develop. As of 2015, an estimated 85% of top brands were utilizing Instagram for marketing purposes. See our posts on utilizing Instagram: 6 Ways to Integrate Instagram into Web Design and Must-Follow Illustrators and Designers on Instagram.
Wedding photography has no doubt evolved in style and cost in the last several years, growing as both a trend and art form. Wedding photographers must be focused and time-oriented, as the unique documentation of a single day falls on them. In recent years, many wedding photographers have even utilized drone photography. Here are some examples of wedding photography.
HDR photography stands for “high-dynamic-range” imaging. This technique, used to increase the dynamic range of luminosity, aims to provide a wide variety of light conditions. Used for many years, this technique dates back to the 1850s. When photography pioneer Gustave La Gray used high luminosity range to illuminate his seascape imagery, a new technique was born. Many apps and editing tools now include this feature, a growing trend for iOS and Android devices. HDR photography continues to trend, especially with lovers of landscape photography. Here are some great examples of HDR photography as well as some suggestions for HDR images used with Photoshop.
Fashion photography is a high-end genre focused on showcasing clothing and products. This style of photography is commonly associated with magazines like Elle, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and other lifestyle features. This popular genre is growing fast across university campuses, as many young people utilize this style in their fashion/beauty blogs. The DIY appeal of blogging has arguably begun a fashion photography revolution, specifically in females 16-25.
Aerial photography, or high-angled photography, became a reality through the invention of flight. Aerial photography was utilized during World War II, as a way to document enemy landings. At the peak of World War II, British planes managed to complete one-hundred flights a day, capturing over 50,000 images to interpret daily.
Google Maps’ publicly available photos are taken through satellite photography, allowing further development of Google’s mapping software. With a massive influx of drone usage, this trend has grown much in the last three years. Drones can capture video and imagery from a high vantage point, saving money otherwise spent on hired hands. Shots can be taken from an aircraft; however, drones manage to capture similar imagery with very little expense.
Street photography can feature the presence of people, animals, objects, and events. Whether artistic, political, or simply a tool for mapping, street photography captures its setting in a unique way. Street photography continues to resonate with artistic photographers as well as lifestyle photographers, due in part to the blogability of such images. Even Google Maps has done a great deal to provide accessible street imagery; Google Street (an extension of Google Maps) allows a full, 360-degree view of various roads.
When it comes to art, sports photography can often be overlooked. Athletics bring to mind coordination, business, and entertainment, but are not often affiliated with creative expression. However, sports are emotionally charged, and games and athletes can change course unexpectedly. Art is famously difficult to define, but art (photography, specifically) is often used to capture the truth. By shooting an athlete, coach, or even a fan at the right moment, photographers can take a genuine moment and make it permanent.
Portrait photography can be useful in a variety of projects, be it commercial or political. Portrait photography gives viewers the chance to connect with the subject of a photo. Unlike advertising photography, the subject of a portrait may or may not be made to look flawless. Portraits can include headshots or full-body shots, and they can encompass a number of emotions and imagery. Here’s our post featuring some beautiful examples.
Still Life Photography
Like portrait photography, still lifes can be used for both artistic and commercial purposes. Still lifes often tell a story through inanimate objects. These types of photographs are unique, as they typically work well for stock photos (depending on the content) and art galleries alike. The impersonal nature of viewing objects makes still life photography a “safe” medium in many ways. Check out this gallery for inspiration.
Abstract photography uses images that are not immediately recognizable, and this creates a sensation within the viewer. Abstract photos can be calming, disorienting, and/or intriguing. Not unlike still life photography, abstract images are often ideal for offices and stock imagery due to their nonspecific content.
In the same way B&W photography provides a sense of honesty, photojournalism’s core purpose is to tell the truth objectively and without bias. This mission has become deeply controversial in some circles, with famous accounts of photojournalists shooting tragedies, such as the photojournalist who captured a woman drowning in the high tides of Plum Island, MA. Despite the varying viewpoints on photojournalists’ ethical responsibilities, one thing is certain; it is their job to help us experience stories through imagery.
As you pursue your own artistic passions, consider these photographic styles and how they can influence your work. Creatives consistently draw inspiration from one another, and why shouldn’t various niches of photography inspire you? Photography is an overwhelmingly diverse genre of art; perhaps you’ll choose one of the techniques above, or maybe you’ll find another style that best suits you.