There are a lot of genres of photography, and while some people can be good at more than one, very few are really good at many different types of photography. Most photographers specialise in one or two genres, and might dabble in a few others for fun.
If you want wedding photos, you’re probably going to do better with a wedding photographer than a friend who does a bit of landscape photography.
Don’t think this means that if you start doing one type, you have to stick with it. Many photographers change over time, or do multiple types, and that can be a strength in itself. Someone who is usually a street photographer might approach landscapes in a different way, with interesting results. A portrait photographer might take product shots a bit differently, and the results might just be good.
I’ve changed and dabbled in different things over time, and the types of photography covered here will mainly be ones I think I’m at least reasonably good at. I’ll try to add some examples of what I’ve done, so you can see if you agree - if you think my portraits are shit, for example, you probably won’t be interested in my opinions and advice on that genre.
Probably one of the most disputed terms in photography. Is it any photo taken in a street? Does it have to be in a city? Do there have to be people in shot, and do they have to be the main focus? Some purists insist it must be black and white, but there’s plenty of good colour street photography.
Some have given up on convincing others that their street photography with no people counts, and have started referring to ‘urban photography’ as a more general and open term.
Some say it’s only real street photography if the people in shot are unaware of it - it should always be candid. But some of the most well known street photographers have interacted with their subjects, and had them posing for their photos.
So there’s no accepted definition. If it’s taken in the street of a sizeable town or city, it’s candid, and the people are the main subject, you probably won’t get too many arguments. Beyond that, call it what you want, but there may be people who say “but that’s not really street photography”. Argue with them if you really enjoy that sort of thing, but I don’t think it’s for me.
Portrait and Modelling Photography
Portraits are a bit more clear in definition, though people can still argue a bit about the edge cases - how far away is the person, how many people, are they posing, etc. But if you’re taking a photo of someone and they know you’re doing it, it’s probably a portrait. If you’ve stepped back a bit to show the surroundings too, maybe it’s an ‘environmental portrait’.
Here’s an example - a little photoshoot with Lauren at the Grand Western Canal:
Lauren was actually where it started for me. I’d spent a long time doing photography, but didn’t really do people. Lauren was my friend, and wanted to have a try at modelling, so I figured I could give it a go. We both enjoyed it, and did several more shoots, and I started finding other models too.
I used to do a lot of this, but my style wasn’t ever what most car enthusiasts would like. I tended to photograph bits of cars - just a grille, mirror, or part of the rear. Cars are interesting shapes, especially vintage cars.
Abstract and Minimalist Photography
So tricky to define that I’ve just dumped them in here together. Abstract photography generally takes part of something, often so it’s not even obvious what the photo is actually of. Minimalism is more about simplicity, often having the subject very small in the frame.
I think both are styles I’ve done a lot of. And I even think I’m reasonably good at them. But I still can’t define them, and I’m still just shoving them together.
Photos of buildings. Relatively easy to define, compared to most other areas. It can border on abstract at times, and I suppose the argument could be made that it’s a sub-genre of street photography, but I’m definitely not getting involved in the argument if it starts.
Photos of wild animals, really, though there could be arguments for including photos of animals at a zoo. Not really my thing, but I’ve included it here, because it is how I got started with photography.