6 popular types of photography

People want photographs for different types of occasions and in all sorts of contexts. Accordingly, there are many different types of photography. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how many. Here are the ones you should be familiar with (and be aware that this list is general and not necessarily comprehensive).

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Active photography

This type of photography is all about taking photographs on the move — in the middle of adventures and at the heart of the action. Often the shooting conditions consist of challenging outdoor settings and call for particular photographic equipment.

Subcategories include adventure photography, drone photography, sports photography, and certain types of nature photography that call on photographers to go out into the world and catch wildlife in their natural habitat — even underwater!

These gorgeous photos of trees show the power of photography to capture the natural world.

Commercial photography

Commercial photography is an extremely broad category. Most photographs you see on a daily basis can be classified as commercial photography, which means they were taken for commercial use. These photos are usually designed to help promote or sell a product.

Subcategories include product photography (which involves taking pictures of products for advertisements) and real estate photography.

Editorial photography

Editorial photographs are published in magazines and newspapers. They are also often taken for internet publications. This is another highly popular type of photography, with entire agencies dedicated to it.

Fashion photography and sports photography can fall within this category, as can documentary photography/photojournalism, which seeks to communicate news or awareness for a social issue via photographs.

Fine art photography

Looking at some gorgeous photographs in a museum? Unless you’re perusing a brochure for the museum itself, you’re probably taking a look at some fine art photography.

This photography is made for artistic purposes. Because these photographs aim to make an artistic statement, they may rely more heavily on mood and unique visual dynamics to convey this statement.

Two popular types of fine art photography are still life photography and abstract photography. Although this isn’t the most lucrative field of photography, some people do spend money on beautiful photographic prints. And many commercial photographers do some fine art photography on the side to engage their aesthetic impulses.

Lifestyle photography

This type of photography depicts people going about their daily lives. It’s a broad category that can include many different subcategories. For instance, event photography, travel photography, and food photography can be classified as lifestyle photography.

At the same time, event, food, and travel photography can serve commercial purposes or even editorial purposes. In this case, the lines blur between types, and it comes down to how these photographs are used. If food photography is commissioned and used to sell that food, it’s commercial. If it’s going on a food blog, it would more aptly be considered lifestyle photography.

Portrait photography

Even if they won’t always admit it, people like having their photo taken. That’s the basic premise of portrait photography, which focuses on a particular subject or subjects. Often these portraits depict people at a major event, like in wedding photography. Photographers are also hired for birthday parties, baby/bridal showers, bachelor parties, and graduations.

Family photography is another popular field of photography and involves families’ photos being taken. And of course we can’t forget pets! We love to make our pets feel special — so it’s no wonder pet photography is popular.

Portrait photography is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to monetize your photography skills. It requires professional sheen and allows you to build relationships with clients on your own terms (which differs from working at a commercial agency, for instance). And you get to be there with clients during some of their most important life events.

As you probably noticed, many of these types of photography overlap. In reality, there are no clear-cut lines between photography types. All of them can be monetized in different ways and with different likelihoods of success. Assess your passions and skills, and decide which field of photography excites you the most. You’ll usually find that you’re naturally drawn to a certain type.

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