What is Photography? | Definition, Tips, and Examples

This is a guide covering photography.

In this glossary definition you’ll learn about:

The definition of photography would be slightly different for every photographer.

Let’s start from the beginning and talk about the definition first.


What Is Photography?

Technically, 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 thousand 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 moment while the 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.

photography example
Photo by Kaique Rocha

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.

Product photography is based around the sole purpose of selling a product such as food. The photographer should make every item of food and beverages 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 them 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
Photo by Nick Demou

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 a 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.

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. 

why is photography important
Photo by Rodolfo Clix

What Are the Different Types (Styles) Of Photography?

There are over 60 different types of photography, but I will only describe the most common ones. Here is a brief explanation of the 7 most common photography styles.

Portrait Photography

This 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.

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 to pose 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.

portrait photography
Photo by Hải Nguyễn

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography are those pictures you see in a fashion magazine or online shop. 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 head, and love to collaborate with stylists, creative directors, models, and other crew members.

Photo by Flaunter

Food Photography

The main goal of food photography is to promote the products and entice customers to buy them. 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.
It means that this industry is promising, especially in the age of the internet, just like now.

Check out a list of the best cameras for food photography

food photography
Photo by Brooke Lark

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.

Photo by Amr Osman

Architectural Photography

The interior and exterior of buildings are the main subject of architectural photographers. This style is particular because it only focuses on capturing the 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.

architectural photography
Photo by Kevin Durango

Landscape Photography

Landscape photographers are the experts in capturing the beauty of Mother Nature. They often use higher-end cameras and tools to acquire the best photos.

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

landscape photography
Photo by Mateusz Sałaciak

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 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.

event photography

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, 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. Take your time to learn it all to avoid making silly mistakes. 
Last but not least is practice. Try different settings, angles, lighting setup, 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. 

what do you need for photography
Photo by Reinhart Julian

Being Technical and Creative

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 a brief info about them in a nutshell:
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.
 I will present a more profound explanation about those features in another blog post. 
Some lens’ 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.

Final Remarks

Photography means everything and anything for 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. Sharpen 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. 

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