Photography is one of the most lucrative professions in modern society. People don’t just want to capture photos; they want a fantastic record of memories and happy moments of life. This has made photography one of the most sought after professions in today’s world. Photography is not just about keeping a record of people’s fantastic memories. It also entails capturing images of several other events, situations and subjects of interest to individuals or the public, using artificial or natural lighting. It’s either you’re doing this in the studio or exploring the natural outside world. This is why the profession has various genres or categories you can specialize in and build a thriving career.
What is photography?
Photography can be described in simple terms as the art of taking pictures using natural or artificial lighting, either in the studio or the outside world. Professionally, photography is defined as the practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically, using an image sensor, or the recoding is done chemically through the use of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It consists of producing images through radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor).
A photographer is a trained professional that focuses on the art of taking photographs with a digital or film camera. This is achieved using either artificial or natural lighting, or by combining both lighting sources, to snap pictures of various people, places and things in a variety of settings. There are photographers that do their own work in the studio, while some others explore the natural, outside world. What every photographer basically does is to record images that interest diverse kinds of audiences.
15 Photography Niches You Can Choose From
Deciding on which type of photography to focus on and take up a career in, could be challenging. This is why you need to know the existing branches of this dynamic profession before making such decision. You have to know the diverse subjects there are to capture, and all of the different ways to create images in specific categories. There are a variety of photography niches that one can choose from and be able to uniquely showcase their artistic ability with.
This article contains a list of 15 most popular genres of photography which anyone can specialize in. There are many careers made in various niches within the photography industry but these ones presented are not just popular but very exciting and lucrative. Here are 15 very popular photography genres you can pursue a career in.
1. Wedding Photography
This deals with taking photographs of weddings and events. This is one of the most lucrative niches in photography. It is well sought-after because everyone gets to hire a photographer for their wedding. Many people might not take other kinds of photographs very often but when it comes to their wedding, they want it recorded in pictures.
To be a professional wedding photographer involves an exciting mix of portraiture and event photography in a wide variety of settings and groups. Wedding photography is very tasking and intense. It requires alertness and first-time accuracy because in many cases, if you don’t get the best shot you can on the first try, you might not get a second chance to retake it. A wedding photographer is always on their feet, moving around during the reception and ceremony. This requires that such professional should be quick in deciding on what images to capture and the best angles to take. You should be ready to take photographs outdoors on a sunny day and indoors for dimly lit receptions and dances. The celebrants often expect to get professional advice from the photographer on how to pose for photos, including other directions involving setting. This requires that the photographer should be confident and communicate well with the couple and their guests. The photographer should be cheerful enough to make the event memorable for the celebrants. The wedding photographer, like photographers in other niches, should be passionate about the work in other to have fun while doing it.
2. Event Photography
Event photography is also popular and lucrative in the society. This involves capturing images of diverse events which organizers want to keep a record of. It could be corporate events, musical concerts, charity work, opening ceremonies, commissioning of projects by government officials or private firms, and such other activities done in a variety of settings. Event photography styles often involve a mixture of photojournalistic documentary work and portraiture. Some organizations use their event photos for publicity purposes, while other use party photos as souvenirs or keepsakes. Event photographers need to be creative to capture exciting memories that will please organizers.
3. Portrait Photography
Portrait photography, also called portraiture, is the art of taking portraits of people. A portrait refers to photograph representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The basic aim is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. Portraiture is one of the most common types of niches in the photography industry that anyone can consider career options. It has to do with capturing people and their personality.
Portrait photography often goes beyond a photo of a smiling person. It involves diverse creative forms of portrait images. These are classified into different sub-genres or types of portrait photos among which are couple, group or family portraits, self portraits, surreal portraits, conceptual portraits, fine art portraits, lifestyle portraits, environmental portraits, candid and street portraits, Glamour and traditional portraits. You have to find out more about these sub-genres before deciding on which one to pursue a career in.
Portrait photographers are always sought after because people often desire to keep a record of every phase of their life: maternity and newborns, school photos, senior photos, and general family photos. Corporate portraits are also commonly needed as employees update their headshots for websites and publicity materials. People in the modeling profession or those who want to take up modeling as a career are in constant need of updated portfolios with a catalog of current shots to market themselves for agencies and jobs. You can also work as a professional portrait photographer for families and weddings, or fashion and product photography. This is one niche of photography you can pursue a successful and exciting career in.
4. Product Photography
This is also a very technical and creative niche in photography profession. You come across product photography everywhere you look and everywhere you go. When you scan the web or flip through pages of magazines, brochures, and glance through outdoor advertisements, you often see products for sale. They are all being advertised through different types of product photography.
Product photography plays vital role in advertising and product marketing. Images are crucial to supporting the company brand and converting sales. The products you have recently shopped for, you probably first saw them where they were displayed on or offline either as advertisements or just a display. Those products had to be photographed first. The photos are used for online and print catalogs, as well as for labels and packaging. Many product photographs are taken in the studio based, with careful control of backgrounds, shadows, and lighting. Studio rentals can be fairly expensive so it you which to pursue a career in this area, consider building a home photography studio on a budget. Having your own studio will make the work easy for you.
There are different kinds of product photography. It could be simple studio photography, white background photos, using scale to show the size of a product, product grouping or products and lifestyle action shots. You also have non-traditional product images, studio setups, hanging product photography, and large product photography.
A product photographer could focus on food photography where they work for or with restaurants, or jewelry photography for fashion outlets. Most often, these may require models to get the best and enticing shots. This is an exciting area of photography which requires creativity on the part of the photographer who wants to pursue a successful career in this niche.
5. Fine Art Photography
This kind of photography offers you the freedom to express yourself in new and creative ways. You can create captivating and thought-provoking images that will draw people to your online photography portfolio and show them that you are a true artist. Fine art photography is the art of bringing a vision to life. It consists of creating something that previously only lived in your mind, as opposed to simply capturing what you see in an artistic way. Through this kind of photography you can express your emotions and the way you see the world, and share this with others. This is why only the creative can succeed in this niche of professional photography. It could be an abstract idea you want to ‘bring to life’ through visible things, landscapes, people, actions, or whatever represents that idea and can express it for the world to behold.
As a professional fine art photographer, you create art. Many fine art photographers display their work in galleries and at art shows, and generally, they sell a finished, framed print product to their customers. Fine art photography can be of any subject at all, but landscape and portrait artists are probably the most common. You have to understand how to capture emotional responses and communicate such with the audience through captivating images. That is what fine art photography is all about.
6. Fashion Photography
Fashion photography is one of the most glamorous niches in photography. It is a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items to attract target audience attention. It is most often used for advertisements or flashy fashion magazines. Though this is an exciting niche, it is not really as easy as it sounds. Fashion photography is a bit difficult to get into and succeed without the right skills. From cover shots of the top fashion magazines to documenting the latest styles and trends on the runway, fashion photographers work in the design districts across the world and are always in the circle of celebrities.
Fashion photography could be runway shoots (during fashion shows). It could be posed shoots on location which requires one-on-one work with a model. Catalog and magazine shoots might also occur on location, from tropical beaches to subway. In this style of glamour photography, the look of the photographs is everything. The photographer is very careful with lighting to ensure it is perfect. Most times, as a fashion photographer you work with models. So a majority of the photographer’s time is spent posing and directing models and scenes to get the look desired from a publication.
Professional fashion photographers succeed as a team. This niche is all about teamwork, done by a group of people. The photographer is just one cog in the wheel. Other members of this team that work together to bring about success are the stylists, wardrobe specialists, makeup artists, art directors, and other production team members. Fashion photography is really interesting and could make the photographer an instant celebrity too.
7. Architectural Photography
This has to do with capturing photographs of buildings and similar architectural structures that are both aesthetically pleasing and accurate representations of the buildings. It deals with taking photos of structures, interior and exteriors of buildings, including shots that are aesthetically pleasing to the viewer’s eye. Architectural photographers don’t just take pictures; they make pictures. This requires additional skills and techniques to capture the beauty of buildings, from the use of perspective control to capture complete spaces to knowing where and when to find the shots.
Architectural photographers could be employed by architectural agencies or they could work as freelancers. They capture the essence of buildings from inception to completion. Details captured include the exteriors and interiors, and subtle details that make the building’s design unique. You need to learn some special techniques and also have equipment that will help minimize distortion and perspective problems that become apparent on a building’s many right angles.
One popular sub-division of architectural photography is real estate photography. Realtors always need excellent photographs, especially in today’s market where many customers view many properties online before deciding to go see them. High-quality architectural pictures are difficult to get right, and realtors will pay for professional photos especially in the high-end market. Architectural photographers play essential roles in real estate businesses.
8. Travel Photography
Travel photography comes with exceptional excitement mixed with adventure. This genre of photography allows you to travel around the world while having fun with your camera in amazing and dynamic settings. Travel photography blends many different types of photography into one. Your interest in one trip could be on the people and the lifestyles present in a place, while also capturing the landscapes and the natural world in which it’s located. Extreme details and wildlife photography might be included too. Whether you are capturing beautiful images on the beaches in Caribbean countries or the ice fields of Antarctica, your primary work as a travel photographer is to get your audiences transported to various destinations without them having to leave home. Your shots should creative captivating enough to carry the audience members along as the travel with you through the images.
There are different sub-categories of travel photography you could focus on. They include aerial photography, street photography, landscape photography, architectural photography, wildlife photography, sports photography, food photography, and sports photography. You can also works on culture photography and religion photography as part of your travel photo stories. This is a very interesting area to have a good career in.
9. Advertising or Lifestyle Photography
This is photography for the advertising and promotion industry. It is really big business. The primary aim of this kind of photography is to show items in the most creative way to attract audience attention and willingness to purchase the product. You find photography on billboards, street signs, magazine advertisements, even on smartphones you carry about. The advertising industry thrives to a large extent on captivating photography. This is one of the most sought-after kinds of photography in today’s world.
Among the sub-genres in advertising photography are street photography, lifestyle photography, fashion photography, or product photography. Advertising photographers can work as freelancers, selling images on a project-by-project basis, or they might work directly for major ad agencies. There is always dynamism in this field where you may be shooting for a print ads campaign one day and shooting internet ads the next, always with a new subject. The competitive business environment makes advertising photography an interesting profession.
This is the practice of reporting in pictures. Here your main aim is to break the news or tell it as it is, not really aesthetics. It could be in war zones, political rallies, natural disasters, or community celebrations. As a photojournalist you are expected to cover breaking news stories as stand-alone photo news or accompanying photographs for written stories. You are supposed to know a bit of news reporting principles to understand the news elements and news values so as to apply them effectively in your photo news journalism. Newspapers, magazines, and online publications are all in need of still photographs to help tell their stories. Photojournalism is one of the documentary types of photography, and the goal of a photojournalist is to document the events as they unfold. Though you could find some portraiture in this kind of photography, the majority of work is done candidly and as unobtrusively as possible. As a photojournalist you use photos to tell stories of events happening all over the world. This is a tasking but interesting sub-genre of photography you can major in.
11. Pet Photography
This is a great option for someone who is passionate about animals. Pet photography is a growing sector with more people coming up with creative ideas that make this an interesting area. This particular niche allows you to combine your love for animals with creative photography skills. Pet photography consists of an exciting combination of studio sessions and outdoor, on-location shoots. With connections to your local pet daycare facilities and dog show circuits, you can build your business fairly quickly. You can begin as a volunteer pet photographer by taking pictures of the animals and helping them find their forever homes. Today, there is a growing number of owners interested in displaying professional photos of their pets, and they are willing to pay a premium for high-quality images. This makes pet photography a lucrative sub-genre of photography you can pursue a career in
12. Sports Photography
This is a specialized field that deals with coverage of sports events using captivating images. You are like a sports journalists but you report events in pictures. If you love sports, then being a sports photographer is a great gig for you. From the sidelines, sports photographers use quick cameras and long lenses to zoom in on the action and capture the winning shots. Photos could end up in publicity materials for teams, in advertising and marketing, and in the news media online and in print. That’s the element of dynamism that comes with sports photography.
13. Aerial Photography
This is another emerging niche in photography made popular by evolving technology that facilitates capturing of fantastic images from very high platforms. Aerial photography is the practice of taking of photographs from very high platforms such as an aircraft or other flying objects. Among the platforms for aerial photography are fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, balloons, blimps and dirigibles, rockets, pigeons, kites, parachutes, stand-alone telescoping and vehicle-mounted poles.
Though aerial images have been around for as long as manned flight and cameras have been, they have become more popular today with emerging technologies. You have unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones, used in capturing unbelievable shots in different kinds of photography. Aerial photography is now used for everything from architectural and real estate photography to weddings and events. Drones provide very captivating perspective which can’t be beaten for uniqueness and beauty. You can either major in aerial photography or combine it with another niche in order to expand your professional latitude.
14. Scientific or Specialty Photography
Scientific photography is a highly technical and complex niche which requires special interest in order to have fun doing it. The primary purpose of a scientific photographer is to help record data. It could be data for the scientific, medical or business communities, or the government. Professional scientific photographers also have special skill set that allows them to “see” data through the camera lens, and present it in a way that is alluring and sometimes even captivating. You could be involved in photographing things in nuclear science, engineering innovation or even space exploration. These are complex subjects, and in order to get the photo you want, you have to understand what you’re looking at. This means you require some basic, college-level understanding of your area of photographic focus, be it biology or engineering, medical or any other research field. This is not really an all-comers affair. There could be an artistic angle to this kind of photography, where creativity is required. Employers are on the lookout for those with an “eye” for top-quality shots.
As a professional scientific photographer you could be involved in shooting bacteria under magnification, super-fine particle research in a lab, genome research data, or hybrid fuel ingredients. There is a wide range of subject matter in this field. It could even be underwater photography where you are expected to capture scientific subjects in the marine world. Your work as a scientific photographer is to capture whatever subject you are assigned in the expository, illustrative, or abstract manner that your client wants. This is a field you’ll enjoy if you have interest in science and research. You just have to love what you’re doing so as to do it with passion.
15. Stock Photography
This is the practice of creating and selling imagery in form of photos and illustrations. Stock photographers sell the rights to use their images through catalogs. They can also work as a freelancer, but more often than not photographers allow agencies to handle their sales. Your primary goal as a stock photographer is to have an extensive catalog of images that sell often. The photographs are often licensed for specific uses. When the photos are uploaded and sold, they provide a source of on-going passive income for the photographer.
As a stock photographer you have the huge advantage of selling any type of image you want. Advertising agencies and small websites find these images very useful. Some media houses also purchase such images and use as illustration in some of their contents. Whether you like to shoot sunsets, people, kids, pets, or wildlife, you can probably sell your images as stock. Once the photos are captured, a lot of time is spent cataloging and key-wording images to ensure that customers can find them. Once the desired key words are typed in, the images pop up and interested buyers go for them. This is another interesting area to focus on as a professional photographer.
You have seen that photography is really a vast area with very exciting sub-genres. We hope this article was useful to you in deciding which niche of photography to pursue a career in. There are several other sub-genres of photography. A number of them are either not as popular as these ones or are an extension of the ones mentioned here. It might be difficult to just pick one genre and focus your career on that. What some photographers do is to try out many paths in their career until they find the one that suits them best. The most successful photographers work in a niche, something that they specialize in that few others do. The fact is that you have a wide range of niches you can select from. Make sure you are passionate about any niche you want to pursue a career in.