Photography is a multi-faceted field: Different industries require photographers to have specialized skills to position the appropriate angle of a story that the photos tell to the audience. For instance, a fashion photographer’s subject is different from that of an aerial photographer and they cater to two different sets of target audience with different needs. While Associate and Bachelor level photography curriculum cover all specialties broadly, students should keep in mind of the different areas of specializations when putting together their portfolio and identifying their interests.
Below are the specializations within the field of photography. Some of these areas are further defined by the industry.
Cinematography: According to Photography Degree Zone’s website, cinematography is defined as photography with a motion picture camera rather than a still camera. As a result, some schools will include this area in their photography program while others may place it under their film program. This specialization requires technical know-how in managing the light, composition, focus and camera to tell a story in a motion picture as well as creative expertise in developing the final product in alignment with the director’s vision. Cinematographers work as a team with camera operators as well as the lighting crew on stage sets.
Commercial Photography: Commercial photographers work with companies to showcase objects in various industries for the marketing materials such as advertisements, websites, brochures and catalogs. Some of the common areas of commercial photography include:
- Architectural photography
- Fashion photography
- Product photography
Fine Art Photography: Fine art photographers capture visual images to create works of art, similar to how a painter expresses him/herself creatively on a canvas. Photographers in this field may also have a background in various art forms in addition to photography. Spanish photographer, Luis Beltran, is an example of a fine art photographer.
Nature Photography: Nature photographers are focused on showcasing elements of landscapes, wildlife, plants, in various climatic (and weather conditions) on land and under water. Photographers in this field may require to have specialized skills like snorkeling and diving (for underwater photography), and interests in the subject (wildlife, geography, outdoor activities, etc.) Examples of nature photography can be seen in magazines such as National Geographic as well as tourism websites. This is a broad area, which can be narrowed down to a number of specializations, including:
- Aerial photography
- Landscape photography
- Wildlife photography
- Underwater photography
Photojournalism: Storytelling is essential in this specialized area of photography, because photojournalists are responsible for capturing an image representing a newsworthy event or incident. Background or skills in journalism or technical writing are essential as photojournalists need to position the image to support the angle of the story.
Portraiture: Portrait photographers specialize in capturing the expressions, mood and personality of a person, group of people and pets. There is an increasing demand for portrait photographers especially in today’s internet age where photos are essential to creating first impressions and celebrating milestones. Projecting the right image is not only crucial to corporations, actors and models, but it is also important to developing one’s personal brand. Portrait photographers may also specialize in the following areas:
- Corporate/Professional headshots
- Glamor photography
- Wedding photography
Travel Photography: This area of photography has some overlap with nature photography and photojournalism, as it focuses on capturing landscapes and people from different countries. Travel photographers have a knack of telling stories of different cultures, customs and locations through images. Love of travel is essential in this area, cross cultural communication skills are also important, especially if a photographer is on an assignment in areas which speak different languages and have different cultural practices.
Through your research and experience, you may already have an idea of which area of photography you’d like to pursue. If not, you will be exposed to a number of these specializations through your program’s curriculum. Photographers do not always stay within a specialization throughout their careers, depending on opportunities and market conditions their areas of focus may change. However, as a photography professional, it is important to stay on top of the trends and market demands of your industry in order to maintain competitiveness.
Buzzle. Types of Photography
PhotographyDegreeZone.com Photography Degree Specializations.