There are approximately 152,000 people employed as photographers in the United States. People choose this career for a variety of reasons. Some like the idea of self-employment as a photographer, while others are looking to make a living from traveling or doing something else they love to do.
Most Popular Types of Photography Genres
If you’re considering photography as a career, you might like to know what some of the most popular genres are and why. Here are 13 of the most popular types of photography genres for you to know all the ins and outs and pave your way to success.
1 Travel Photography
This is a popular genre because you can turn your vacation into a money maker. But, travel photography is a challenging field because it encompasses many other genres, such as landscape photography and wildlife photography.
As a travel photographer, you’ll get practice in all those genres, but you’ll have to take the right equipment. The equipment you’ll need includes a variety of lenses, such as a wide angle lens, a macro lens, and a zoom lens. You’ll also likely need a tripod and flashes for variable lighting situations.
To make a living as a travel photographer, you’ll need several income streams; anything from leveraging social media to stock photos to direct client sales as well as teaching and blogging about your profession. If you’ve got a good eye, though, you can make enough money to pay your travel expenses and have a bit left over for saving.
2 Wedding Photography
When people think of professional photographers, they often think about wedding photography. Memorializing your wedding day is a must for most couples, and that is one reason why wedding photography is a lucrative genre. In fact, the median expected income for wedding photography is $62,135 per year.
You will earn your money, though, as you’ll likely be on your feet for 10 hours or more on the big day, and in some cultures, the wedding can last an entire weekend. One of the big benefits of this genre, however, is that while other genres are suffering because advances in digital photography have made it easier for amateurs to take good quality photographs, the happy couple usually still wants a professional for their wedding. Also, the job is recession-proof since people still get married even if the economy is bad.
3 Portrait Photography
Portrait photography has been around as long as there have been cameras (even before if you count paintings). There are several options in this genre for professional work–everything from newborn photography to pet portraits.
While with other types of photography genres, you are going to be pretty much self-employed, with this genre, there is the option of working for an established portrait studio. This way, you wouldn’t have to concern yourself with the business end of the field; you would just go to work, take pictures, and go home.
If working for an established studio isn’t for you, you can open your own studio. If you do that, you have control over the marketing, the work you do, the hours, and the equipment. For many people, that’s preferable to working for a studio, but another option is to partner with an established photographer. If you do that, you can work with someone experienced in the field while building your own reputation.
4 Landscape Photography
Landscape photography fits in well with travel photography since you’re often traveling to exotic destinations. But, landscape photography can also involve man-made structures in urban environments. For example, cityscapes and street photography.
To be successful at landscape photography, you’ve got to learn all about your camera and other equipment, be prepared to travel, and be patient! You often have to wait for the right time of day or the right kind of light to get that perfect shot.
You’ve also got to educate yourself about composition. For example, a rule similar to the rule of thirds is the golden ratio, it’s like the rule of thirds, but closer to the center of the image. Many landscape photographers prefer to use the golden ratio for this genre.
Of course, you’ll also have to market yourself and find the right outlet for your photographs. Working as a landscape photographer is harder than most people realize, but the benefits are worth the extra work. In fact, some landscape photographers have literally made millions for their images.
5 Wildlife Photography
For animal lovers, this is the genre for you! But, wildlife photography is a challenging field where patience is key. You have to go where your subjects are, be willing to wait for them to appear, and be ready when they do.
That means you’ll need the right equipment, something that can handle fast-moving subjects and variable light conditions. And, that’s just getting the images; then, you have to sell them.
If you’re serious about making money from wildlife photography, you’ll have to market yourself and your images. Doing things like selling photos at craft fairs and running wildlife photography workshops can help to get your images and your name out there.
It is also worthwhile to give talks to promote your images and to seek out certain clients like newspapers and magazines. As with any of the genres here, taking the photographs is only the beginning, marketing them is key.
6 Film Photography
One of the benefits of film photography is that it forces you to learn every aspect of the camera and be more meticulous in your shots. It teaches you more than digital photography about light, and how to use and manipulate it. And, even happy accidents created by film photography can be considered works of art.
Also, for medium or large formats, film can produce a 400 megapixel image. Furthermore, there are many professionals who still yearn for the experience provided by film photography that digital photography just can’t match.
7 Sports Photography
With an average annual salary of $41,000 and the potential to earn over $100,000 a year, sports photography is a popular genre. But, it definitely requires practice and the right equipment.
If you’re interested in this genre, you should first understand the sport you are hoping to photograph. That will help you visualize the images you can create, which will help you both to position yourself for those shots and prepare your camera.
With regard to the camera, you’ll want to be sure you understand autofocus and subject tracking. These features are key to sports photography. Autofocus should be set on continuous to make sure the subject you’re tracking is always in focus. Subject tracking ensures that you’re focusing on the correct subject.
Aside from these features, you’ll want to make sure you understand shutter speed (it should be at least 1/400 seconds), and you’ll want to invest in a fast zoom lens. That will help you get close to the action and capture the interactions and emotions on the field.
8 Fashion Photography
Fashion photography is one of the most sought after genres. It can be extremely lucrative and the shoots are often in exotic locations with attractive models. But, it’s also an extremely competitive genre. To make it in this world, you’ll have to work hard and set yourself apart. How do you do that?
One of the most important things is consistency. Clients need to be able to see that you have a lot of good quality photographs, so build your portfolio accordingly. If you have just a few images in your portfolio, clients will wonder how many didn’t make the cut.
Another tip is to create trends by adding unexpected elements to your images. You want to show the world and the client that you are ahead of the game!
Don’t ignore the details. Make sure the clothes aren’t wrinkled and the backdrop is clean. Finally, don’t compare yourself to the competition, and work your social media networks so you won’t be a starving artist.
9 Street Photography
Street photography is known for its raw images. It is realism at its best, and often, its worst. The interpretation of the image is left to the viewer, but it usually conveys powerful sentiments.
You can either be an unobtrusive photographer who captures the action from a distance, or an intrusive photographer who gets in the face of his or her subjects, provoking a response. Either method can capture stunning, emotional images.
To become known as a street photographer, you’ll need to consider utilizing your social media networks, starting your own blog, creating a professional looking website with numerous images, giving presentations, entering competitions, showing your work at craft fairs, and offering courses on successful street photography.
10 Food Photography
With social media to show off what you’re cooking and eating, many businesses have taken to producing tempting images of food to bring in customers. There are, however, some tricks and tips that can help you get those mouth-watering food images.
Of course, you want good equipment–a camera with a high ISO, multiple focal points, and the ability to shoot in raw is the best. You’ll also want a tripod and a color checker to ensure you are getting the best images to show of those tasty treats.
Aside from the equipment, there are also a few tricks to know for the best images. For example, you can spray the food with non-stick cooking oil spray to make it look fresh-cooked, parchment paper makes for a great background and doubles as a light diffuser, and tea towels make good styling items to give it a homemade feel.
11 Macro Photography
Macro photography is a genre that is growing in popularity, and there are good reasons why. Because you’re going to be zooming in on the fine details of items, like flowers, you don’t have to go far or engage in physically difficult activities. Your garden will do just fine.
Additionally, you don’t need to plan much in advance. If you have the right equipment on hand, you can take your shots on the fly.
As for equipment, a 100 mm macro lens is usually best, and you’ll want a tripod to avoid blurring the image. Also, you’ll want some kind of light diffuser/reflector. There are inexpensive kits available for this, but if you don’t have one, you can use wax paper as a diffuser and white paper or foam for a reflector.
Finally, you’ll want a trigger cable or wireless trigger so you won’t have to touch the camera to take the image. Alternatively, you could set your camera’s automatic timer to take the shot, but you’ll want to set it to 2 seconds instead of 10.
12 Product Photography
Another potentially lucrative genre is product photography. It is vital to the success of brands, particularly for online businesses. To be successful in this genre, you’ll want to take photos of the product from multiple angles and various dimensions. Your client will want multiple views that highlight the impressive features of the product.
Also, taking photos in natural light will usually produce better images as will avoiding any distracting background patterns or colors. Finally, you’ll want to avoid over-editing the image.
13 Adventure Photography
Lastly, the genre of adventure photography is one that attracts a lot of photographers. It’s interesting, fun, and gets attention from viewers. But, it can also be challenging.
You’ll need durable equipment that’s also portable. You’ll likely want zoom lenses and prime lenses as well as wide angle lenses. Also, you’ll need a lightweight tripod, extra batteries, and if your adventure lasts for a while, you’ll need an alternative power source for recharging and a laptop to process the images.
For marketing your adventure images, destination marketing is a big industry. You’ll want to reach out to tourism boards as well as hotels and adventure activity organizers. You can also get magazine or newspaper contracts if you’re going to be experiencing events that are important on the local or national level.
These 13 popular types of photography genres all have their own challenges and rewards, but what’s important is for you to find the genre that best suits your needs. That way, you can do something you love while making money at it too!
If you like the genre you’re in, you’ll do better work, because you’ll be inspired. Understanding the challenges and rewards of each genre can allow you to make the best decision for you.