Perhaps you already consider photography an art form. But like traditional art, photography can come in many different styles. Whether you’re choosing a photography art print as wall decor for your home or as a gift for a friend, understanding the different types of photography will help you pick the perfect print. Here, we breakdown some of the most popular photography styles—though of course, there are many more!
1. Portrait Photography
"Angelina Jolie" by Annie Leibovitz
Portraiture is one of the most common styles of photography. Used everywhere from books to magazines, digital publications and social media, portrait photography is designed to capture the essence of an individual or group. Some portrait photos are tight shots, allowing the subject’s face to take centrestage; others might be full-body shots that convey more of the mood and personality of the subject. Despite its prevalence, portraiture is a very difficult style to master—subjects have to be comfortable to make good photos.
Man and Taj Reflection (1999) by Steve McCurry - Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
This photography style essentially captures the news in visual form. They’re often candid, taken at whim during newsworthy events, and aim to showcase what’s happening, who’s there, and the feelings of the moment. You’ll find examples of photojournalism in newspapers and current affairs magazines around the world. In general, photojournalists are sent to attend events and capture unscripted moments.
3. Fashion Photography
"05 / Sai Ying Pun, Dina" (2016) by May N Kasahara - Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
If you’ve ever flipped through Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, or GQ, you’ve definitely come across fashion photography. This unique photography style is designed to showcase clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry and inspire people to buy them. This is a cross between lifestyle and product photography because although they’re often modeled by people in stunning locations, the focus of the images are the products. Creativity is key to fashion photography, as it’s important to be able to conceptualize a shoot and tell a story.
4. Sports Photography
"Ali-Liston" (1965) by Neil Leifer - Lewiston, Maine, USA
You could almost consider sports photography a subset of photojournalism. Images in this style capture athletes—though sometimes it’s coaches, cheerleaders, or fans—and the passion and emotion of sports events. Because it’s very fast-paced and they’re often far from the action, photographers have to be careful to use big lenses that can zoom in across fields and pitches, and fast shutter speeds that can keep up with the athletes.
5. Product Photography
"Erbology" (2021) by Alex Lvrs - London, Royaume-Uni
Perhaps the most common form of commercial photography, product images are usually shot in studios with carefully-calibrated lighting. The goal is to properly showcase the product and all its features and make them enticing to consumers. Many of these images end up on retail websites and product catalogues. Still, the exact style of photography will differ depending on the brand—a high-end jewelry brand will want to highlight its product very differently from an outdoor clothing brand.
6. Editorial Photography
Wall art: Kelvin Yuen's "An Island" & Sharon Liu's "Old Fashion"
A very specific style of image, editorial photographs are used to bring a story or article to life, usually in a magazine, newspaper, or digital publication. These images are often very specific because they relate so closely to the written content they accompany. Within editorial photography, there may be elements of portraiture, street, fashion, product, landscape, nature, or lifestyle photography, depending on the exact story.
"Light of Mercy" (2018) by Kevin Mak - North Point, Hong Kong
Building details big and small are the focus of architectural photography. This style captures everything from whole structures to details like doors, columns, and bridges. To make a really good image, a photographer may look for interesting colors, patterns, and materials—lighting can play a big role, too. Architectural images might be particularly useful for designers, architects, and property investors.
8. Street Photography
"Organized Chaos" (2017) by Elaine Li - Mong Kok, Hong
Daily life is the key to good street photography, which captures moments and settings in urban areas. In Hong Kong, it could be anything from wet market scenes and the neon signs of Wan Chai to the dilapidated buildings and old bird shops in Sham Shui Po. At their core, street photographers are adept at capturing the extraordinary parts of ordinary daily life.
9. Landscape Photography
“Mysterious” (2021) by Kelvin Yuen - Hong Kong GeoPark, Hong Kong
You may recall Ansel Adams’ famous black and white images of Yosemite National Park—and you might consider this the epitome of landscape photography. This is the art of photographing natural scenes, be they sweeping panoramas or tightly-cropped environmental shots. At its best, these landscape images completely immerse the viewer in a particular place. These days, there are several sub-genres to this style of photography, including storm and seascapes.
10. Wildlife Photography
"Emerging" (2006) by Paul Nicklen - Nunavut, Canada
As its name suggests, this photographic genre focuses on capturing wild animals. It requires extreme patience and dedication as photographers may wait for hours in uncomfortable settings to get the perfect shot of animals, who are subject to the same whims and caprices as humans. Still, when done properly, we’re rewarded with compelling images that take us behind the scenes of the animal kingdom and give us insight into the lives of wild creatures.
At Bamboo Scenes, you’ll find a range of photographic styles in our collection, from architecture and street to landscape. Whichever style you like, you can be sure that these photography art prints capture the essence of Hong Kong.