Skip main navigation

Types of photography

Photographers usually specialize in six areas—this next step explores each of these different areas.
This is an image of an photograph being taken by a cellphone.

Photographers usually specialize in one of the following six areas: general practice, advertising or editorial, fashion, press, corporate, and technical.

  • General practice, or social, photography refers to photographic services for local communities or businesses, with the majority of work in wedding and family photography.
  • Advertising photography, or editorial photography, expresses a product’s personality or illustrates a magazine story. It is usually classified as still life, food, transportation, portraiture, or landscape photography.
  • Fashion photographers work with models and art directors in the apparel, accessories, or home products industries. They are often commissioned by art directors of catalogues and magazines.
  • Press photography, also known as photojournalism, focuses on images directly related to news stories, both events and personalities.
  • Corporate, also referred to as industrial or commercial, photographers produce images for promotional materials or annual reports.
  • The technical photographer produces photographs for reports or research papers, such as textile durability analyses. See the below image as an example of technical photography.
An illustration of technical photography in the textile sector of the fashion industry.

In all areas of specialization in photography, the successful photographer has several work objectives:

  • maintaining a technical knowledge of cameras and related rapidly changing technologies, as photographers increasingly need to know how to use computer software programs and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images
  • developing an artistic understanding of light, distance, and perspective
  • cultivating a keen eye for aesthetic detail and inventive ways to communicate moods and ideas
  • building strong interpersonal skills to work with models and be sensitive to their moods so that they are comfortable in front of the camera
  • understanding studio lighting to bring out the best in skin tones and textures and colors of different fabrics
  • working well with natural light (or a lack of) for on-location shoots
  • establishing good relationships with stylists, art directors, modeling agents, and fashion editors
  • identifying and securing future assignments and clients
  • understanding the roles and responsibilities of an entrepreneur.

Professional photographers often employ assistants to help the business run smoothly. Assistant photographers may deal with clients and suppliers; organize estimates, invoices, and payments; arrange props and assist with lighting; communicate with photographic labs and stylists; work with the photographer on shoots, and maintain the photographer’s website and portfolio.

You might wonder what qualifications are needed to become a photographer. The next article should provide some of the information you might need in order to get started.

This article is from the free online

Careers in Fashion: Styling, Curatorship, and the Ancillary Businesses

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now