Home » Professional Development » 15 Genres to Pursue as a Professional Photographer
By Anna Ortiz on March 24, 2020
Do you feel like you’re not dressed if you leave your home without your camera? Are you constantly evaluating everything in your range of sight for whether it would make a good photograph? If so, you may be among the lucky ones who are ideal for a career in photography. Professional photographers work in a variety of genres, including some you may not have thought of before.
Following are 15 genres you can pursue as a professional photographer:
Portrait photographers specialize in personal portraiture. These are often special occasion photographs such as senior pictures, class pictures, family photos, and baby pictures. There’s also a demand for professional portraits for use on conventional business cards, online portfolios, and on LinkedIn. Portrait photography is often an introductory portal to genres such as wedding and fashion photography.
Wedding photography is a popular genre that requires an ability to function flawlessly in fluid social settings. You should also be able to think on your feet in order to capture those fleeting special moments on film. Adaptability is another essential skill for becoming a sought-after wedding photographer because wedding venues vary greatly. On any given day, you might be photographing a wedding on a beach at sunset or another in a candlelit cathedral.
Photojournalists provide images to accompany news stories and coverage of current events. Traditional print publications (as well as their online counterparts) always need relevant photographs. Photojournalists often cover stories in war zones, natural disasters, and pandemics and need the ability to work quickly and unobtrusively.
Fine arts photographers have highly developed creative skills that they use to create an evocative and emotive final product meant to be framed and displayed in homes, businesses, and public buildings. Many fine arts photographers moonlight in other genres such as advertising while they’re building their reputation and developing a following.
Event photographers work at corporate events, concerts, theater performances, and anywhere else where there’s a need for visual documentation. These photographs are often used for promotional purposes. For instance, a company might use photographs of its annual dinner to promote on its website.
Product photographers have become increasingly sought after as online shopping continues to become more common, but they’re also still in high demand for hard-copy catalog work. Product photographers work with a huge variety of items and many specialize in niches such as food photography and jewelry photography. Product photography involves studio work rather than going to different locations. Photographers with superior still-life skills in lighting and backgrounds often do very well as product photographers.
Fashion photographers work in one of the more glamorous genres and, consequently, that comes with a higher bar of entry. Competition is fierce but it’s possible to get a foothold in this specialty by doing local work for brick-and-mortar department stores. Fashion photographers must be adept at teamwork because a successful fashion shoot involves the efforts of many other professionals including wardrobe and makeup stylists, art directors, and the models themselves.
Architectural photography involves working with very specialized equipment designed to capture every detail in crystal-clear clarity. Many architectural photographers also sideline or even specialize in real estate photography because brokers and agents are always in need of high-quality images to include with their sales descriptions.
Travel photographers are fortunate enough to visit some of the planet’s most stunning places. After fashion photography, this is probably the most desired genre among fledgling photographers. Getting a foothold in travel photography can be tough but most find it extremely rewarding once they get there.
Talented advertising photographers are more in demand than ever in today’s commerical advertising, sales, publishing, and marketing industries. Along with traditional print magazines, online retailers depend on visual imagery to make their wares appealing to consumers. Those working in this field need to be versatile, organized, and able to utilize a variety of skills and techniques.
Sports photography involves photographing sporting events. Many sports photographers get their start as sports enthusiasts with photography skills, who want to document the activities of their favorite teams. Those lucky enough to be successful often find themselves working as official sports photographers for teams, covering the sports beat at their local newspaper, or working for sports magazines.
Pet photography is ideal for those who love furry friends and want to work with them on a daily basis. Pet photographers often work as freelancers but some work at portrait studios. Naturally, an affinity for pets and an ability to bring out their best moments is necessary for those wishing to be successful in this genre.
Ariel photographers once worked from light planes but the increasing popularity of drones has completely transformed this genre. Aerial photographers often work for real estate professionals and are also hired to document weddings, concerts, and other special events. Those wishing to enter this field will need to become proficient in handling drones and will probably need a special commercial license, depending on the jurisdiction.
Scientific photographers work with university researchers to provide visual documentation of trials and experiments, with organizations that study wildlife, and with government agencies and medical researchers.
Stock photographers can either be generalists or work in the genre of their choosing. Stock photos are usually sold on a per-use basis by online distributors. Stock photographers work as freelancers or through an agent. Stock photography can be a great way to test the waters and experiment with a variety of genres.
Keep in mind that not every photographer will stick to just one niche. Many of the above genres overlap, such as advertising and product photography. Aspiring photographers shouldn’t be afraid to explore, experiment, and follow their passion wherever it takes them.
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