Photography: Types, Techniques & Styles

Instructor: Anne Butler

Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.

A memorable or eye-catching photograph can go a long way when advertisers are trying to sell their product. This lesson will examine the types, techniques, and styles of photography.

Glass Plates to Go-Pros

Photography has come a long way since its invention by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in 1839. No longer just for professionals, today's cameras allow everyone with a smartphone to capture images of the world around them. These photographs don't even need to be developed; with a click of a button, photos can be shared throughout the world.

Types of Photography

There are many different types of photographs that advertisers can use, so before you take a picture, you have to decide which type of photograph would work best for your type of product. Let's explore a few basic types of photography.

One of the most popular types of photography is portrait photography. Any picture with a face, from people to animals, is considered a portrait. Portraits are usually used to market beauty items, like mascara or lipstick.

Aerial photography is used when taking overhead shots of things like marathons or traffic. Action photography is usually used in sports sections, showing athletes participating in whichever event occurred the night before. Both of these types can also be considered documentary photography, meaning they are photographs of events.

Action Photo
action photo

People looking to sell something use architectural photography or commercial photography. These are pictures of products or houses or buildings. Nature photographs are taken for magazines or websites and are usually of landscapes and animals.

Photography Techniques

After deciding what kind of photograph you want, you then have to decide what format you want it to be. The most common file format is a JPEG, which most cameras automatically use. RAW format is used when more editing is needed, and the TIFF format is used for enlargements.

Once you've decided on your format, then line up your shot. A good thing to remember is the rule of thirds, which is looking at your subject and trying to imagine that there's a grid of nine equal squares over your shot. This helps with alignment and framing so your photographs look more balanced and all of the action isn't to one side or the other.

If you have a digital camera, most will automatically adjust the exposure for you. Exposures make photos lighter or darker, depending on how long the shutter is open. Modes automatically adjust settings when you take different types of photos. With the right mode, sports photos won't look blurry, and you can capture a shot of a bird in flight.

Lighting is also important. If you are taking a picture of someone outdoors, make sure the sun isn't behind them, because chances are the sun will overwhelm the shot, and you won't be able to see the face of your subject. Also important is the flash. Sometimes the flash can be used to your advantage, flooding darkened areas with light. Be careful with the flash, though, because if you get too close to your subject they'll get washed out and look like they're glowing. You can also turn your flash off if you're outdoors or somewhere with a lot of good lighting.

Photography Equipment and Editing

In addition to the flash that comes with your camera, a separate flash unit can also be purchased. Professional photographers usually have these to add better lighting to their photographs.

One way to keep your photographs from looking blurry is to use a tripod or monopod. These can be attached to your camera to stabilize your shooting. Tripods can also aid when you want to be in your photograph, as you can put your camera on your tripod, set your timer, and step into the frame.

Camera on a Tripod

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