Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Show Printable Version Search this Thread
01-21-2010, 03:17 PM   #1
Inactive Account

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 51
Photography genres demystified (or muddied, I知 not quite sure)

So I知 here recovering from knee surgery - unable to hobble out of bed to even say hello to my camera gear and, being something of a Poindexter, I give myself an intellectual photography assignment: succinctly yet generally 電efine the (arguably) most prevalent photographic genres (and some subsets therein). This was inspired, in part, by the 'favorite genre' poll in this forum. I researched each photographic term and compiled definitions from repeated concepts online, in photo mags, books and dictionaries. Like I said knee injury (and a LOT of free time on my hands). Not only was this a great time killer, but it actually helped me get an idea as to which genres I壇 like to focus on, rather than continue down the generalist痴 path (my reasons for that are my own). So take a look with what I came up with. Please share your comments. And if you lean toward one or more genres, perhaps explain why and share what kind of equipment you specifically use for each. And then get out and go shooting! Um, just be sure and wear some knee protection

Abstract - Complex use of color, texture, focus, exposure, etc. to render an image often with no apparent or discernible subject and/or a subject that appears entirely unlike any object

Aerial - A hybrid of two separate technologies, aviation and photography, aerial views generally adhere to one of two types: the direct vertical, producing a rational, linear representation useful in cartography, and the oblique horizontal; resulting in a more descriptive, pictorial image

Architecture - Views of the exteriors and interiors of individual domestic, commercial, religious, institutional, and other engineered structures, with emphasis on architectural style and design, as well as records of the evolution of structures in towns and cities

Astrophotography - Photography of both visible and invisible celestial objects; usually captured in darkness

Cityscape - Usually more glamorous than urban landscapes, cityscapes are broad-view photographic representations of cities or sections of cities regarded as cohesive scenes

Documentary - A photographic depiction of the real world intended to communicate something of importance - or to make a comment - that is understood by the viewer

Essay - A set or series of photographs tied together with text or captions intended to tell a story or evoke a series of emotions in the viewer

Event - Coverage of any special event, either indoors or outdoors, often involving large and/or roving groups of subjects and logistical planning with staff, after which prints are produced and sold to event clients and participants

Fashion - The art or practice of taking photographs of models displaying various fashions, especially for style magazines, in which the clothes and fashions are often enhanced by exotic locations, storylines, and array of props and backdrops for added impact

Fine Art - Fine art photography overlaps many genres of photography, as it is developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than utility. That is, it refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Thus, fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalistic and commercial genres, as those varieties provide visual support for print media or focus on selling products or services, respectively, rather than expressing the artist's own perceptions and emotions to share with or sell to others.

Glamour - A genre of photography whereby the subjects, usually female, are portrayed in a romantic or sexually alluring way

Industrial/Commercial/Ad - Photos made for hire to depict industrial/commercial activity and products at the behest of industrial/commercial organizations, agencies, publishers, and other business and industrial users involved in the buying and selling of goods or services, to project certain impressions of themselves and their undertakings and/or for purposes such as advertising and packaging. Commercial genres overlap other genres of photography because they utilize many of the same approaches and techniques.

Landscape (Pictorialist)- Broad-view photographic representations of expansive scenery that use various landforms, fauna, flora, weather, etc., regarded as cohesive scenes, to evoke emotions in the viewer about each location and/or to inspire environmental stewardship

Macro - The creation of close-up photographs in which the subject projected on the film or digital sensor (吐ilm plane) is the same size as the subject (1:1)

Nature - Nature photography is an umbrella term incorporating landscape, wildlife, and plant photography, but excludes photographs of artificially produced hybrid plants or animals, mounted specimens, or obviously set arrangements, as well as any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the of the photographic statement

Photojournalism - Still images of newsworthy events, often with supplementary written copy

Portraiture - The capture of the likeness of a person or a small group of people (a group portrait), in which the face and expression is predominant in order to display the likeness, personality, and/or mood of the subject(s)

Sports - Action shots that capture the key elements and/or emotions of sporting events; often divided into two subsets: victory and defeat

Still Life - Photographic representation of the arrangement of diverse inanimate objects

Stock - Encompassing virtually all genres of photography, 鉄tock refers to rights-managed images supplied to buyers for specific uses as a means to fulfill the needs of creative assignments

Travel - The capture of the particular look, character, and ambiance of a place we leisurely visit in order to share as much about that place as well as offer the actual look of it

Urban/Street - Candid images focused on the people that live in and around the cities and urban areas where we live and work

Urban Landscape - Transcendent of and usually grittier than 澱ig-picture cityscape, urban landscapes document and explore the places where people live and gather, focusing on the city itself and its life

Wedding - Coverage specifically of marital events, either indoors or outdoors, often involving large and/or roving groups of subjects and logistical planning with participants, after which prints are produced and sold to wedding clients and participants

Wildlife - A vast genre that captures the behavior and habitat of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, as well as insects, spiders, and marine and freshwater life

01-21-2010, 06:49 PM   #2
Veteran Member
lavascript's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Baton Rouge
Posts: 390
You forgot "Nude." Heh. =P
01-21-2010, 07:50 PM   #3
Veteran Member

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Melb. Aust
Posts: 840
lol @ lavascript!

veezchick, good summary and mend quickly so you can pursure your fav categories!

however, I would change the following:

QuoteOriginally posted by veezchick Quote
Essay - A set or series of photographs possibly tied together with text or captions intended to tell a story or evoke a series of emotions in the viewer
01-21-2010, 08:08 PM   #4
Damn Brit

This is good stuff, thanks for compiling it. Hope you are back on your feet soon.

Perhaps you could add a line to the portraiture definition covering environmental portraits.

01-21-2010, 08:49 PM   #5
Community Manager
Ash's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 23,818
Excellent and comprehensive summary here.
This ought to be submitted as an article.
01-21-2010, 10:12 PM   #6
Veteran Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,482
Good exercise, pretty well done. You've made a listing of the common terms used to describe different types of photography. Not a bad list and I'd agree with Ash that it would be useful to make it a sticky or an article.

Ah, but this is a tricky thing to do.

For one thing, you've listed the terms that people actually use. But when we use them, we use them in a really loose way that expects a lot of contextual understanding to be supplied - and this looseness in the way we actually use terms is hostile to attempts to categorize or define their meanings. For example, we use "portrait" to refer both to Cartier-Bresson's photo of Ezra Pound and to those horrid fast-food photos taken of high school graduates. Then there are other overlaps. Wedding photography is a form of event photography; perhaps so is sports photography. But sports photography is also photojournalism - especially when the photographer stops shooting athletes on the field engaged in play and turns, say, to the drama on the sideline or in the locker room or after the game. The term photojournalism is used nowadays by wedding photographers to mean something that is clearly not REAL photojournalism at all but closer to magazine fashion photography. Finally, note that nearly any of the terms you use describes a kind of photography that could also, in the right circumstances, be "fine art" photography.

You've also omitted a number of types of photography that perhaps deserve to be mentioned. The clearest omission, I think, is commercial product photography, although that rather lucrative area of endeavor - which requires a fair deal of technical skill, by the way - has many subdivisions. Celebrity ambush photography is another fairly clear - and again, potentially lucrative - genre. I'm honestly not sure what the experts call it, but you know what I mean. I'm thinking of whatever it is that paparazzi do. War photography seems to me to deserve mention as a category, ditto forensic photography, photomicrography (which certainly deserves to be in any list that also includes astrophotography), and on and on.

And at this point, by rights, I ought to wander off into the clouds and provide a provisional alternative set of terms designed to organize photographs into fewer but larger classes. But I'm tried and instead I'm going to go to bed. :-)

01-22-2010, 10:32 PM   #7
Veteran Member
mysticcowboy's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: port townsend, wa
Photos: Albums
Posts: 968
Excellent list

Great list. I think it gives a good starting point from which to think about the various sub-disciplines. And, wiith Will's addition of commercial photography and lavascript's mention of nude, which itself can be split into art and porn, your list is pretty complete.

I'd also add another category that combines elements of travel and sport photography. You mention that sport is about winning and losing but there's a huge arena of sports that are simply done for the joy of participating, especially in the out of doors. Fishing, climbing, kayaking, skiing and so on aren't necessarily competitive. And they often require a technical ability in the sport to even be in the right place to take the shots. Darned if I know what to call it. Participant sport photography?

michael mckee
My Port Townsend A City in Photographs 365

01-24-2010, 04:11 PM   #8
Veteran Member
Nomad's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Maine
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 408
Great list.
Hope that you get back on your feet soon!!

  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
and/or, art, camera, cities, emotions, genres, photographs, photography, share, subject, subjects
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New in here and in photography Aktivus Welcomes and Introductions 1 09-12-2010 01:19 PM
New here but not to photography cannabiscurescancer Welcomes and Introductions 9 08-22-2010 01:00 AM
New here, not new to photography Bob photo 4 life Welcomes and Introductions 5 06-16-2010 06:25 AM
NEW to Photography BUDU Welcomes and Introductions 5 02-04-2009 12:11 AM
More IR photography jshurak Post Your Photos! 0 09-23-2007 01:11 PM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:01 AM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]