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Photography Glossary

What is Photography?

October 23, 2022 by

Whether you’re brand new to photography or want to learn some new tips, this is your hub for photography tips and insights.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

What Is Photography?

Photography is the art of capturing and processing light using a sensor or film. But the essence of photography is to treasure moments and share them with the world. Quite simple, but the action itself is capable of changing people’s perceptions.

A photo can have a deeper meaning and tell thousands of important stories. One of the best examples is photos taken during the war.

There are many eye-opening photos circulated during the war.

Some photos snap the winners’ glorious moments while others show the utter devastation of citizens caught in the crossfire.

But that’s not all, folks; photography also has the nature of having multiple interpretations, especially in modern photography and art.

Everyone has their own “hot take” when it comes to judging an image. Some see the bigger “picture,” while others take it as an analogy to life, transforming it into those “wise” quotes.

As you widen your knowledge about photography, aesthetics, and techniques, you can unveil even more meaning behind a single photograph.

What Is the Purpose of Photography?

In the past, photography’s purpose was to supply portraits for people who could not afford paintings.

During War, photographs enable people to grieve and remember their family members who passed away on the battlefield.

Lovers can also use a photograph to soothe the suffocating pain of missing their loved ones on a cold night.

As time goes by, photography serves more diverse purposes. You can see this with all the different niches of photography.

Product photography is based on the sole purpose of selling a product such as food. The photographer should make every item of food and beverage look shinier, mouth-watering, and more delicious than its competitors.

Meanwhile, portrait photography aims to tell a story about an individual’s identity, personality, and story.

This style is divided into several more types, such as lifestyle portraits, street portraits, and many more, each of which has a different purpose.

For hobbyist photographers and regular people, photography is a way to document meaningful moments in life—memories stored indefinitely in a picture, which you can look back at easily anytime.

purpose of photography
document moments in life

What Are the Different Types Of Photography?

There are over 60 different types of photography, but we will only describe the most common ones. Here is a brief explanation of the 13 most common photography styles along with their respective resource hub.

We will be adding to this list as we build out our guides.

Be sure to also check out our guide on different photography niches to decide on which one to pick.

1. Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is by far the most popular photography style. We can easily find it on someone’s social media profile pictures or the dull driver’s license photo.

portrait photography example
portrait example

Everyone in any setting can be the subject of portrait photography; from your family at home, friends in school, co-workers in the office, and even yourself. You can shoot your subject either posed, candid, or close-ups.

Even though this style looks super simple to do, some photographers struggle to shoot a good one.

The common reason is they cannot make the subject feel comfortable posing in front of the camera. Therefore, the subject looks awkward and unnatural.

When shooting a portrait, keep in mind that your subject is an ordinary human with a set of emotions and thoughts. Try to interact with them in the most relaxed manner to make them feel confident and show their true self.

To learn more, check out the resources in our Portrait Photography Hub:

[catlist name=”Portrait Photography” numberposts=1000]

2. Headshot Photography

Headshot photography focuses on the main subject, starting from their head to shoulders, with their preferred scenery as a backdrop.

white background headshot photo
headshot photo example

Everyone is always in need of a high-quality headshot, whether it be for personal or professional reasons, so if you can master your headshot photography technique, you can make a great living as a photographer.

To learn more, check out the resources in our Headshot Photography Hub:

[catlist name=”Headshot Photography” numberposts=1000]

3. Fashion Photography

Fashion photography photos are the pictures you see in a fashion magazine or online shop.

fashion photography example

This photography style has one sole purpose: making every fashion item aesthetically pleasing and appealing to its consumers. Furthermore, lure them into buying those items.

Fashion photographers should master a portrait photographer’s skills, possess tons of creative ideas in the back of their heads, and love to collaborate with stylists, creative directors, models, and other crew members.

4. Food Photography

The main goal of food photography is to promote the products and entice customers to buy them.

food photography example
food photo example

No matter how small or large the scale is, every food and beverage business will need this type of photography. 
You will need a lot of money to build a career in this industry since professional food photography needs a studio and other special equipment. (Check out a list of the best cameras for food photography.)
It means that this industry is promising, especially in the age of the internet, just like now.

5. Editorial Photography

Editorial photography commonly uses in magazines or newspapers. This style refers to every image that sits alongside text.

The photo makes the reader understand more about the description of events, places, or stories that the writer tries to tell.

If you want to be an editorial photographer, you need a deeper understanding of the subject, composition, and advanced technique.

As a photographer, you should have a high sensitivity to know which angle or subject best represents the story that a writer writes.

6. Architectural Photography

The interior and exterior of buildings are the main subject of architectural photographers.

architectural photography example
architectural photo example

This style is particular because it only focuses on capturing architectural beauty, which sometimes is hidden in plain sight.

This style aims to shoot the utmost detail of buildings and promote it to potential buyers. It is like product photography with a different subject.

7. Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is about capturing the beautiful landscape of Mother Nature.

Landscape photographers often use higher-end cameras and tools to acquire the best photos.

landscape photography example
landscape photo example

A busy city full of working-class people during the day or glamorous urban nightlife can also be the landscape photography subject – it is known as a cityscape.

To learn more, check out the resources in our Landscape Photography Hub:

[catlist name=”Landscape Photography” numberposts=1000]

8. Event Photography

As the name implies, this type of photography focuses on capturing every exciting moment in an event, from a wedding, birthday celebration, family gathering, annual meeting in the office, and many more.

event photography example
event photo example

Event photographers’ services are always in high demand. The average fee is around $200-280 but can be vary depending on how long your event held.

But do not worry too much because their rates are adjustable. It depends on your request, the event’s location, and your personal preference that may require the photographer to use additional equipment or staff.

9. Street Photography

Street photography is about capturing people, places, and cultures in a candid fashion.

black and white street photography
street photo example

A great street photographer is one who can capture emotions and expressions while staying relatively inconspicuous.

There is nothing worse than sticking a camera in a stranger’s face.

10. Sports Photography

As the name implies, sports photography focuses on capturing the live action of a sporting event. Whether it be actionable moments during the sport or the players within the sport.

sports photography cycling
sports photo example

Sports photography is an exciting genre of photography, especially if you are a fan of the sport you are photographing!

11. Product Photography

Product photography focuses on products as the main subject, capturing the detail of the product and its features.

The products you photograph can vary from eCommerce items to jewelry, to toys.

12. Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography focuses on capturing images of wildlife. Whether it’s an eagle soaring through the sky, or a lioness and her cubs.

This type of photography can be dangerous, so make sure you come well prepared!

13. Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photography is like a portrait photo, except it has the particular goal of capturing one’s “lifestyle.” The photographer captures the subject during these moments. Examples could include doing yoga, working at a desk, laughing with friends, working at a coffee shop, etc.

Ever since the prominence of social media people want to showcase their lifestyle to their friends and family.

What Do You Need for Photography?

I’d say that you will need a DSLR camera. But as a starter, you can use a smartphone because most of the newest series come with high camera specs.

Renting a DSLR or mirrorless camera from a nearby rental store can be another option to consider. 

Nevertheless, before buying any camera or other equipment, you should decide which photography career you want to pursue.

Do you want to target a small niche? Or do you want to invent a brand-new photography style? By answering basic questions, you can decide which gear will support you best in this new career. 
For example, buying a tripod and multiple lenses for landscape photography, and investing in additional lighting will help those focusing on portrait photography. 
As a beginner photographer, it is natural to make some mistakes. But do not fall into the same error twice.

From the basic to the professional level, you can learn everything about photography from thousands of online resources. 

Even most tutorial videos, blog posts, books, and other information about photography on the internet are free (such as our guides).

Take your time to learn it all to avoid making silly mistakes. 
Last but not least is practice. Try different settings, angles, lighting setups, and everything to understand how things appear on the camera. The more hours you spend practicing, the better you will become.
If you want to step up your game, invest your time to master editing skills using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Post-processing can help you patch up the little mistakes that you made and even make your subject appear more stunning than before. 
So, there’s equipment, knowledge, and also practice in both production and post-production. 

Being Technical, Creative, and Business Savvy in Photography

Technical skill and creativity work together like clockwork: without one another, your images would end up dull, unattractive, and senseless.

You need to understand camera settings, at least the three essential features: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Here is brief info about them in a nutshell:

  • The aperture controls the focus of the image while controlling the amount of light received. 
  • Shutter Speed helps you capture fast-moving subjects, and It also affects exposure
  • ISO is a sensitivity that allows you to take pictures in various types of lighting.

We have a guide on each of these subjects and these three factors create the exposure triangle:

exposure triangle

I will present a more profound explanation of those features in another blog post. 
Some lenses are specially designed to produce specific effects better. For example, if you want the perfect bokeh effect, you can choose Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART Lens and the Minolta/Sony STF 135mm f/2.8 [T4.5].
But recently, some smartphones can imitate that bokeh effect almost perfectly. They are the Honor 9 Lite smartphone, Apple 7 plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel, etc. 
Keep in mind to use all of your equipment to the fullest. Where is the best spot to put your lighting? When is the right time to change your lens? And many more. Your skill in operating your equipment will affect the result significantly.

It is also important to know photography composition and basic photography insights.

You can further explore photography composition, photography insights, and the resources we have on photography which you fill find at the bottom of this guide.

Starting a Photography Business

Once you have studied photography tips, and composition, and have experience in the field you will also need to know how to start making money!

That requires business and marketing tips.

To learn more, check out the resources on our Photography Marketing and Business:

Photography Glossary and Terms

As you are on your photography journey, you will encounter a lot of terminology and slang.

It can be hard to keep track of so you can check out the most common photography terminology in our photography glossary.

To learn more, check out the terms on our Photography Glossary:

[catlist name=”Photography Glossary” numberposts=1000]

When Was Photography Invented?

The first permanent image was captured around 1830 in France in the hands of Joseph Nicephore Niepce.

This breakthrough created a ripple effect, and the rest is history.

Joseph Nicole then collaborated with Louis Daguerre to create the daguerreotype. It was the first commercial camera that “prints” images on silver-plated copper.

But the names who popularized photography were talented figures such as Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and many more.

Alfred believed that everyone could use photography to express emotion and meaning, just like music and paintings. He also dissuaded landscape painters and made them go “spiral.”

By introducing the photography industry, Alfred influenced painters to pursue and develop abstract painting styles.

To further explore the invention and history of photography, check out this in-depth video:

Why Is Photography Important?

Well, how important are your childhood memories for you? I have a soft spot for those old memories, and every photo of them induces a nostalgic feeling. 

Photography has the power to “freezes” time, preserving the memory until the paper deteriorates. 

Without photography, it will be hard to understand our history. We will not see the historical sites that once existed, old cultures, inventions, and other precious events that happened in the past. 
A journalist uses photography to spread a message to the whole world, giving a chance to the minority to be seen and attracting people’s attention to the neglected problems around them. 
Photography has also become a new trending source of income for many. Their annual pay is undoubtedly affected by their portfolio, amount of experience, and reputation. 

old photographs

Final Remarks

Photography means everything and anything to every person. The purpose is never fixed and continuously changes. 
There are many types of photography out there, each constructed from the understanding of the basics. 
If you want to start learning photography, do not think to buy an expensive camera first because your smartphone camera is enough. Sharpening your skill should be your primary goal. 
The best photography tips I can give are to keep your discipline and enthusiasm high. Make sure that you learn and practice every single day. Then, you will see the results sooner than you think. 

All Photography Resources

[catlist name=”Photography” numberposts=1000]