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Choosing a Genre: What Will Yours Be and Do You Need to Pick Just One?
The short answer is, no. You absolutely do not have to choose a genre, and furthermore, I even advise against it, at least initially. I would say that you should try as many or as few as you want and that this will not only expand your camera skills, but may also pique your interest in one or more of them.
I remember the excitement when I first got my camera. I wanted to snap everything and learn from my experience. I think I must have driven my wife crazy as I stopped to take a picture of a plant and then tried to shoot motion blur as a motorcycle drove by. But I learned so much from that and my passion for photography became entrenched.
In this weeks post I will cover the different genres and styles so you have an idea of what may appeal to you.
There are many different genres and styles of photography, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques. Some common genres include:
Portrait photography: This genre captures individuals or groups of people, often in a posed or candid setting.
Landscape photography: This genre captures natural outdoor settings, such as mountains, forests, beaches, and more.
Street photography: This genre captures candid shots of people and their surroundings in urban environments.
Wildlife photography: This genre captures animals in their natural habitats.
Sports photography: This genre captures athletes and sporting events in action.
Fine art photography: This genre is more subjective and can include a wide range of styles, such as abstract, conceptual, or Surrealistic.
Photojournalism: This genre captures real-life events, people and happenings in a documentary style.
Some popular styles of photography include:
Black and white: This style is characterized by the absence of color and can add a sense of timelessness to an image.
Macro: This style captures close-up shots of small objects or details.
Long exposure: This style captures motion over a long period of time, resulting in dreamy, blurred images.
High key and low key: These styles are characterized by the use of lighting and shadow to create a specific mood or atmosphere.
HDR: This style is characterized by the use of multiple exposures to capture a wide dynamic range of tones in an image.
These are just a few examples of the many genres and styles of photography. Each photographer can have their own unique perspective and style, which makes photography such a diverse and interesting art form. There's always something new to learn in this field.
Portrait photography focuses on capturing the likeness, personality, and mood of a person or group of people. It can be shot in a studio or on location and can be done with various types of cameras and lighting setups. Portrait photography can be used for a variety of purposes, such as for personal keepsakes, for business or professional headshots, or for artistic expression. A good portrait photograph should be well-composed and should accurately capture the subject's appearance, while also revealing something about their character or personality. Additionally, portrait photography often involves working with the subject to help them feel comfortable and relaxed, which is essential to capturing natural, expressive images.
Landscape photography focuses on capturing the beauty and grandeur of natural scenery, such as mountains, valleys, forests, and bodies of water. It can be shot in a variety of settings, including wilderness areas, national parks, and urban environments. Landscape photography typically involves capturing wide vistas and expansive views, as well as intimate details of the natural world. The goal of landscape photography is to convey the sense of being in a particular place and to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.
Good landscape photography often involves careful composition, using techniques such as the rule of thirds and leading lines to guide the viewer's eye through the image. The use of light, color and weather conditions can also be crucial to create a certain mood and atmosphere in the photograph. In addition, the use of different lens focal length, aperture, shutter speed and ISO can help to enhance the depth, sharpness and motion blur in the image.
Landscape photography can be done with various types of cameras, from smartphones to professional DSLRs, and can be captured in a variety of formats, including color, black and white, and infrared. Many landscape photographers prefer to shoot during the "golden hours" of sunrise and sunset, when the light is soft and warm, and shadows are long.
Street photography captures candid images of people and their surroundings in public places, such as city streets, parks, and markets. The goal of street photography is to document everyday life and to capture the unique moments and emotions that unfold in public spaces. Street photographers often work with available light and use a wide variety of cameras, from traditional film cameras to modern digital cameras. Street photography is considered to be one of the most challenging and rewarding forms of photography, as it requires a keen eye for composition, an understanding of light and shadow, and the ability to anticipate and capture fleeting moments. Many street photographers also use long lenses, wide-angle lenses, or even smartphone cameras to be as unobtrusive as possible. Street photography is not limited to capturing candid moments and people, it can also include architecture, details, signs, and other elements of the urban environment. Street photographers also often have a social or political message they want to convey with their work.
Sports photography focuses on capturing dynamic and exciting images of athletes and sports events. It is a challenging and fast-paced form of photography that requires a high level of skill, quick reflexes, and the ability to anticipate and capture the decisive moment.
Sports photographers use a wide range of cameras and lenses, depending on the sport and the conditions. For example, a photographer covering a football game may use a long telephoto lens to capture close-up action shots, while a photographer covering a marathon may use a wide-angle lens to capture the entire race.
Sports photography often involves capturing images of athletes in motion, so the use of fast shutter speeds is essential to freeze the action and eliminate blur. Photographers also often use techniques such as panning, zooming, and multiple exposures to create dynamic and visually interesting images.
In addition to capturing the action, sports photographers also often capture the emotions and personalities of the athletes, as well as the atmosphere of the event itself. They also often have to work in challenging lighting conditions, such as bright sunlight or low light, and use specialized equipment such as flash units or filters to get the best possible images.
Sports photography is a highly competitive field, and it requires a good understanding of the sport, the rules, and the athletes themselves, as well as a deep knowledge of photography techniques. Many photographers start by covering local games and working their way up to covering major events such as the Olympics, World Cup or World Series.
Wildlife photography focuses on capturing images of wild animals and their habitats. It is a challenging and rewarding form of photography that requires a deep understanding of animal behavior, an awareness of the environment, and a keen eye for composition.
Wildlife photographers often work in remote and difficult-to-access locations, such as rainforests, deserts, or the Arctic. They use a wide range of cameras and lenses, but most commonly a long telephoto lens to capture close-up images of animals without disturbing them. They also use specialized equipment such as hides, tripods, and remote triggers to capture images without disturbing the animals.
To be successful in wildlife photography, photographers need to have a deep understanding of the animals they are photographing, including their behavior, habitats, and the best times to photograph them. Many wildlife photographers also have a deep understanding of conservation and use their images to raise awareness about endangered species and habitats.
Wildlife photography can be broken down into several sub-genres such as bird photography, mammal photography, marine wildlife photography, and macro photography which focus on small creatures such as insects and frogs. Each of these sub-genres requires a different set of techniques and equipment.
Wildlife photography is also a highly competitive field and many photographers work on a freelance basis, and they may have to work in tough conditions such as hot sun, rain, cold and with limited access to facilities. But the rewards of capturing beautiful and unique images of the natural world can be very rewarding.
Macro photography is a genre of photography that focuses on capturing small subjects at a very close range, allowing for a high level of detail and magnification. The term "macro" refers to the close-up nature of the images, and it is often used to photograph subjects such as flowers, insects, and other small objects. Macro photography can be done with different type of cameras, from film to digital, and different lenses including special macro lenses or extension tubes.
One of the key challenges of macro photography is achieving a shallow depth of field, which helps to isolate the subject and create a sense of separation from the background. This is often achieved by using a wide aperture, such as f/2.8 or f/4, and by positioning the camera as close to the subject as possible.
Another challenge of macro photography is lighting, as small subjects can be difficult to light effectively. Many macro photographers use specialized lighting equipment such as ring lights or flash units to illuminate the subject and create a sense of depth and dimension in the image.
Macro photography requires a great deal of patience, as the photographer may need to wait for the right moment to capture the subject, and also needs to be very precise with focusing since the depth of field is shallow. Many macro photographers also use focus stacking, a technique that involves taking multiple images at different focus points and then combining them to create a single image with a greater depth of field.
Macro photography can be a very rewarding genre as it allows you to capture the small details of the world that may not be visible to the naked eye. It can also be used in scientific research, and in commercial fields such as food and product photography.
Abstract photography focuses on capturing images that do not depict a recognizable subject or scene in a representational way. Instead, abstract photographs are characterized by their emphasis on form, shape, color, texture, and pattern.
Abstract photography can be created using a wide range of techniques, such as intentional camera movement, multiple exposures, intentional lens distortion, and the use of special effects filters. It can also be created in-camera or through post-processing techniques, such as selective coloring, cropping, or the use of software to manipulate the image.
Some abstract photographs are created by intentionally manipulating the camera or lens to create a distorted or abstract image, while others are created by finding abstract compositions in the world around us, such as patterns in nature or the repetition of shapes in man-made objects.
Abstract photography can be used to create a wide range of different effects, such as creating a sense of movement, evoking emotion, or creating a visual puzzle for the viewer to solve. It can also be used to create a sense of mystery or to challenge the viewer's perceptions of reality.
Abstract photography is a very open-ended genre and it does not follow traditional rules of composition and can be very experimental. The photographer can use a wide range of techniques, both in-camera and in post-processing, to create unique and interesting images. This genre can also be used in art and design to create visually striking compositions that evoke emotion or convey a message.
Fine art photography
Fine art photography is a genre of photography that is created with the intention of being exhibited and appreciated as a work of art, rather than just as a documentary or commercial image. Fine art photographers often use photography as a means of self-expression and to create images that evoke emotion and provoke thought.
Fine art photography can take many forms, including traditional black and white or color photographs, as well as more experimental techniques such as digital manipulation, alternative printing processes, or mixed media. Some photographers will create a series of images that explore a particular theme or idea, while others may create a single, highly-crafted image.
Fine art photography is generally created by individual photographers and not for commercial purposes, and it is often exhibited in galleries and museums, and can also be sold as limited edition prints to collectors. Fine art photographers often have a personal vision, that they want to express through their art, and they may often push the boundaries of traditional photography to create something unique and personal.
Fine art photography is a very broad genre, and it can encompass many different styles, themes, and techniques, and as it is not constrained by commercial or documentary considerations, it allows the photographer to have more creative freedom, and to explore new ways to express themselves through their art.
So What's Next?:
Go and shoot as many images as you can. Whether that be in one genre or many, try it and see what you like.
Look for inspiration in YouTube and Social Media posts. You will see many varied styles to try.
At the end of the day do what you enjoy. Remember this is for you and no-one else. You will find the genre and style you love and that is ok.
I would love to hear what you like/don't like and if you need any assistance.
Next: How I Found My Love?
I tried most genres when I started, mainly to get practice, but also I did it to find what I would like. And even though I did find one I love I am still determined to learn other genre's and at least be proficient in them.
In my next post we'll look at how and why I gravitated to Landscape Photography
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please reach out to me. I am always happy to help.
So is That It?:
No!, not even close. I am far from done learning. My journey has only just begun and I make a point of trying to learn every time I pick up my camera. I think that is part of the enjoyment, its a never ending journey.
Thanks for reading - Get Creative
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Inspiration (I hope)
My photographic journey is ongoing and I am learning everyday. Here is an image I captured on a trip to Yosemite.
*I fund some of my traveling through sales of my work. You can check them out here.