Common types of photography
Updated: Apr 2
In my previous post, I discussed balancing aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity in order to achieve a photo that is well-exposed (or exposed the way you want it to be). Now that you understand the mechanics of photography, let's talk a bit about the artistic part of it.
There are many types of photography, each with its own unique quirks. This list isn't exhaustive by any means, but it does showcase a few different styles of photography that you can explore.
Landscape photography in its most simple form is about capturing space and its relationship to the viewer. In this sense it bears similarities to architecture. Landscape photography often involves shooting nature, although urban cityscapes are also popular and offer a way of contrasting the artificial constructs we build with the natural spaces that these constructs inhabit.
"To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer."
~ Ansel Adams
Portraits are taken for a variety of reasons - they may be casual and off-the-cuff, or commissioned for resume photos, or to mark momentous milestones such as wedding days and birthdays, but no matter the reason, a great portrait reveals something of the subject's character and personality.
Street photography is photography that aims to capture the unmediated and candid scenes of public spaces and people in those spaces. It is the realm of the observer capturing interesting or significant moments in his or her surrounding space. Neither streets nor people are needed for street photography, but both are common elements in this genre because of their ubiquity and interest as photographic subjects.
Timing and composition are particularly critical to street photography, where you have one singular opportunity to create a striking photo before that moment is lost forever.
Nature/wildlife photography generally aims to capture animals in their natural element, and draws on a variety of skills including those used in landscape, portraiture and street photography. Patience and an instinct for timing and composition are critical to capturing a striking image. Knowing an animal's unique behavioral traits is also helpful.
Night photography is characterized by the photo being taken at night, and often includes interesting light sources that contrast with the darkness of the night.
Studio photography often involves portraiture that takes place in a studio or make-shift studio. The advantage of working in a studio is that it allows you to control every aspect of the photo, from the background elements to the light, letting you shoot anything from a simple portrait to a fantasy scene.
Astrophotography is the art of shooting space at night, and requires some specialized techniques, software, and for advanced shooters, specialized hardware as well, to make the most of the photos. Good astrophotography is awe-inspiring and puts our place in the universe in perspective.
Macro photography is all about taking magnified photos and can involve specialized tools such as macro lenses, lighting, and focus stacking software. Macro lenses allow your lens to shoot at a much closer distance to your subject than ordinary lenses.
Fashion photography is like portrait photography except that the subject of the photo may be a product as it is worn and expressed by a model. Fashion photos are often dramatic or exaggerated, such as the model's makeup, hair, and clothes, the color scheme, lighting, or highly stylized processing.
Architectural photography tries to capture the beauty of architecture and often focuses on patterns, lines, and spatial relationships both inside and on the exterior of buildings.
Black and white
Black and white photography forgoes color to focus on patterns, textures, and the interplay between light and dark.
There are many other types of photography. Check out some of these awesome photographers, many of which are personal favorites of mine:
- Rutger Pauw (sports)
- Margarita Kareva (fantasy / compositing)
- Peter Belanger (product) - you've almost certainly seen his work, he's famous for his extremely complex lighting setups used for shooting Apple products
Please consider sharing your photos with the community by tagging #dharmaportraits on your Instagram photos - I'd love to see how you're using these tips to create beautiful photos.