The earliest experiments with photography, i.e., capturing images on a light-sensitive two-dimensional surface, date to the 18th century. It wasn’t until 1839 that two inventors presented what became the basis of picture-taking we know today. Granted, their invention had to do with chemistry, as the surface required a special coating to produce a positive or a negative image. Through technological advancement, digital cameras replaced images captured on photographic film starting in the early 1990s. The types of photography below existed long since, too. However, implementing cameras into smartphones and the advent of social media both propelled the creative industry forward, improving them permanently.
1. Landscape photography
Taking pictures of landscapes is among the most widely known types of photography. You’ve surely done it yourself at one point, whether in your backyard, from a moving car, on a trip to a beach or a hill, or simply looking out the window. Also called environmental or scenic photography, it is characteristic for evoking an intimate feeling of vastness, unknown, or undiscovered. It is also intimate, as it rarely includes people or animals, regardless of whether the scenery is grandiose or focused on a landmark. The unrelenting progress of technology also gave way to a subtype named urban landscape photography, which includes man-made scenes and structures.
2. Portrait photography
Portrait photography is something you’re undoubtedly aware of. From the time you were a child to school days, taking pictures for a yearbook, then your ID, you’ve had someone take a portrait image of you. Also called portraiture, it’s one of the oldest forms, as the first inventors used themselves and their family members as stand-ins. However, there’s far more than meets the eye. The photographer must keep the person in focus and decide which part of their face to emphasize. Additionally, they must pose them in the right light, with the correct posture and placement, and nail their facial expression.
3. Fashion photography
Taking pictures is a core part of fashion. The reason is that it allows products and services to reach a worldwide audience in a digital format. However, fashion photography is far more than showcasing clothing, accessories, shoes, and other goods. It is predominantly based on studies on human psychology, and what we find attractive. This is always combined with the photographer’s creativity, talent, passion for art, and the right location: runways, studios with full equipment, streets, scenery, and more. The result is eye-catching pictures published in online and offline magazines and advertisements, from banners on websites to massive billboards in cities.
4. Candid photography
We spoke of intimacy above, but this one is truly among the most candid, honest, authentic types of photography. It represents picture-taking in the most natural way possible — without any preparation on the subjects’ side. This allows the photographer to capture the magic of the moment as it happens. Common occasions are events, irregular or unusual activities, or emotional moments, whichever side of the spectrum they may lean on. This doesn’t mean subjects never receive instructions, especially if their intended use is stock photography. However, the vast majority of such images are taken spontaneously, by surprise, or even unconsciously (with consent for use afterward).
5. Still life photography
Still life photography represents capturing inanimate objects, whether natural or manufactured. This is frequently the starting ground for photographers, as they can choose objects slowly and carefully. Moreover, the person taking pictures can reposition objects with ease and capture them under different lighting conditions and camera settings. Their frequent use is two-fold: commercial and expressive/creative. The latter has a wide array of applications, but we witness the former daily. Think product placement in TV ads, advertisements through various visual marketing mediums, and a library of stock images.
6. Sports photography
You don’t have to be a massive sports fan to notice this category of photography at work. Daily news, printed and digital advertisements, and TVs in restaurants and bars are sufficient sources. This category of photography is all about capturing a high-quality, razor-sharp picture from afar, typically during high-speed movement. Photographers utilize long, heavy camera lenses to magnify the action from tens of meters away. Additionally, they must ensure the final result is in focus, has no heavy shadows, and illustrates the point they’re trying to prove, usually through body movement or facial expressions. Sports photographers may also capture the audience and coaches to better portray the situation.
Macrophotography or macrography focuses on capturing close-ups of already miniature subjects or objects. Some common examples include zooming in on coins, water droplets, bees on a flower, intricate jewelry, and even textures of living and still objects. These images require one of the following:
- Custom lenses with or without extension tubes. Lenses alone are common for amateur photography because they can be placed over a smartphone camera or attached to entry-level digital cameras. Extension tubes are added to boost magnification and get closer without losing focus.
- Digital microscopes. Photomacrography refers to the use of digital microscopes to achieve an image reproduction ratio higher than 10:1.
8. Black and white photography
Taking pictures in black and white (B&W) is one of the oldest kinds of photography, next to portrait, sepia, and architectural photography. Monochrome photography remains popular to this day because it evokes feelings of timelessness, class, elegance, nostalgia, and love for vintage. Although you can still find second-hand analog cameras, most of today’s B&W photography is created through a camera setting or in post-production.
9. Architectural photography
The name says it all — architectural photography represents a sort of photography whose main subject is buildings, whether their interior or exterior. It mixes precision and a keen eye. After all, images must typically be accurate in relation to the nearby buildings, objects, people, and landmarks while also looking aesthetically appealing. They may also follow unspoken rules appropriate for architectural styles such as gothic, Victorian, classical, contemporary, and more.
10. Wildlife photography
This photography classification frequently wins a myriad of “Best Picture” awards, yet isn’t too present among the general population. It’s self-explanatory — the term represents picture-taking of wild animals, in contrast to pet photography. It’s far harder than it looks, too. Photographers may spend hours in one spot, as wildlife will neither pose nor easily approach humans. Furthermore, they might expose themselves to hazardous conditions or dangerous animals for exclusivity, reaching the habitat, or getting an ideal angle or lighting conditions.