From the earliest of times, man has felt the desire to record images of the world around him in some manner. Whether the purpose is to tell a story, express creativity or leave a record for future generations, capturing images will always be part of life in one form or another. Today, everyone has access to a camera at any given moment. An art that was only in the hands of a few is now available to the majority of the world. As the interest and availability of photography has increased, so has the number of styles. Let’s explore the many ways a photographer can share his view of the world.
The Big Picture
Professional photographers normally specialize in a certain type of subject matter. Many of the categories overlap, such as nature photography can include landscape or wildlife, among others. Each person sees the world differently. Photography enables each person to focus on the one part of the story that matters the most to them, the place they consider conveys the emotion and essence of what they want to share. It is all part of the same big picture and no one specialization is any more important than any other. As you become more familiar with your own style and subject matter, here are several of the many categories you may find yourself drawn to.
Portrait photography is the photographer’s attempt at capturing the personality of a person or pet. Portrait photographers focus on the facial expressions of the subject to capture the exact moment that conveys a strong emotion. Most often, the eyes of the subject are the greatest focus.
Photo © Tony Heyward
Whether it is a snow-capped mountain, a serene lake or a turbulent sea, landscape photographers create a picture that conveys a mood of the place. Very often there are no people or man-made objects in landscape photography and the focus is on the wide view rather than a singular object.
This creative specialty has the photographer focusing on a part of an object. The picture may be a view of a children’s climbing bars from beneath or the spokes of a hubcap on an antique car. These photos try to show the beauty in the part rather than the whole.
Wildlife photography focuses on capturing the world of the wild animal in its natural habitat. The focus is not on domesticated pets but rather the mountain lion about to pounce or the tiger swimming in a lake. This photo genre often requires both patience and a long lens.
Travel photographers try to convey the culture of a certain area. They may focus on the local food market in a third world country, a tribal dance in Africa or the pyramids of Egypt. They want viewers to get a sense of the culture of a particular area.
Black and White Photography
The world is full of color but removing that color creates a mood that many photographers believe helps focus on the subject matter alone. Using only contrast, they convey depth and richness in the photo.
This specialty focuses on the tiny things that make up the minute details of the world – a close-up of a spider spinning her web or an ant carrying a bread crumb. The often overlooked details in the world are brought to light and given focus.
Pictures of ocean reefs, a school of colorful ocean fish or the recording of a deep sea diver are all examples of underwater photography. The photographer’s goal is to show us a world so often not seen.
These photographers take pictures of storms, tornados, lightning and other natural weather events. Storm photographers often follow weather-related events to capture the best pictures.
The night offers a different view of the world. Low-light conditions are a challenge that, once mastered, can provide a view of the world that is rich with life.
We all sometimes take a photo of our food at a restaurant. Food photography takes this idea and lifts it into an artform with lighting, masterful food arrangements and endless hours of getting everything just right. The end result is a photo that will make you salivate.
This kind of photography is used often when making maps and trying to give an overview of any area from above.
Street photography aims to capture the feel of an area and its people. Everyday events are often portrayed such as a homeless person sleeping on a bench, a woman feeding the birds or graffiti on a building.
This style tries to capture an abstract concept such as love, happiness, or pain by evoking the emotion. Loneliness may be conveyed by a single bare tree in a field or an elderly man sitting on an empty pier. This is all about the emotion
Often called Astrophotography, this specialty uses a camera and telescope to get pictures of things like the planets, stars, and other space phenomena.
Still Life Photography
A vase of flowers or an ashtray with a burning cigarette are the kinds of things still life photographers focus on. Everyday objects that are made special with lighting.
This is an artistic specialty that shows life from a distorted view. Moving the camera to blur a face or causing a subject to appear melted or otherwise malformed create a sense of warped reality.
Not just exterior views of buildings, this photography captures the essence of a building. It can include a close-up of intricate carvings on the molding or a wide view of a grand spire.
The focus here is on creating a sense of the action and tension of a key moment in a sports event. You get the thrill of a goal made or the thrill of crossing the finish line.
Erotic photographers try to convey the beauty of the human body. They avoid direct sexual content and focus on the sensual movement and form of the human body.
Photography is a wonderfully diverse discipline that marries art, skill and emotion in a way that allows the photographer and viewer to connect in a way that is beyond mere words.