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  • Ashley Cooke

Photography Genres

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

When someone first finds out that I am a photographer, I get the question "what kind of photography do you do?". It's a legit question! So I explain that I am a portrait photographer specializing in high school senior portraits and family photography. And I've been asked to photograph a broad range of things over the years. I feel like most people believe that since I know how to work a camera that I can photograph anything. Welp, here I am to tell you that is definitely NOT the case!

Take for instance real estate photography... I CANNOT DO IT! My brain does not comprehend the space so I have no idea which lens to use. And on top of that, how in the world do they get that lighting mixture to look so amazing?! Also, newborn photography... although I have tried it, I have taken a week long in-person course just for newborns... I can't do it or really, I won't. The liability alone makes me sweat, the posing is so difficult, the wrapping is not as easy as you would think and baby skin colors and textures you have to deal with in the editing process.... oh my heavens, that's a whole other blog post! NOT FOR ME!

I have also photographed funerals in the past. Yep, you read that right... funerals. The first one was when I was an intern at a studio in the Corpus Christi, Texas area. I can't remember why the lady I worked for didn't photograph it, but I remember being incredibly nervous when she asked if I would!

It was a funeral for a marine in his early twenties and had the motorcycle gang that escorts fallen soldiers excort him to his resting place. It was a hard day, but I was asked to photograph anything and everything. The family wanted to be able to see everyone there, exactly what everything looked like, and knew that in their grief it would be impossible for them to take it all in. Photographs where the only way they knew how to preserve those moments forever. The other was not too long ago for a local nurse. She had a huge impact on our community and her celebration of life service was held for anyone and everyone... and everyone showed up! It was so beautiful! I'm still not sure if the family asked for photography coverage or if a friend just thought of it and asked. I was contacted by someone outside of the family to take photos at the celebration for the family. Both funerals I have covered where incredibly impactful for me as a photographer. All too often we take for granted the time and the place we are in.. and we don't really stop to think about what could be because what could be is scary. However, what is also scary... is leaving your loved ones with little to know photographs of you. That is scary for those left behind. Just cold hard facts. Sorry, that got deep!

And, now after dipping my toes into several types of photography I now know where my sweet spot is. I love photographing high school seniors and their families and I also love to help my wedding photographer friends on the side. Yeah, you heard me.... for fun, as a side-gig, I photograph weddings! LOL! I also dabble in landscape and macro photography.

Over the years, I've noticed many people haven't ever really thought about the photographs they see on a daily basis and how those came to be. Like on advertisements on a billboard or on website ads or on social media ads.

When I was teaching a photography class, we had a lengthy discussion on the many different types of photography and some of the kids where amazed there were so many. When you really start thinking about all the types of photographs you've seen, the list goes on and on....

Architecture - Newborn - Product - Fashion - Sport - Medical - Headshots - Food - Portraits - Fine Art - Boudoir - Astro - Macro - Abstract - Landscape..... I could also keep going too!!

For some of these genres, it's relatively easy to have basic camera knowledge and create decent images. But for some of them, it takes years of intensely dedicated practice and equipment to master.

Think about this.... if you break your arm, what kind of doctor would you go do? An Orthopedist. Would you go do a dentist do get your broken arm fixed? Uhhhh, big fat, NOPE!!!

What about if you got sued, who would you go to? Would you go to an engineer? HA!

NOPE again......A Lawyer! Or what if you planned on building your dream home, who would you go to for that service? YES, an Architect!

Photography services is really no different! If you just had your first baby and you wanted those precious photographs of your little love swaddled up in the basket sleeping all cozy and beautiful, would you go ask your friend who is a real estate photographer to take those photos of your baby? I'm here to tell you... please don't. Though it may be possible to have a real estate photographer to take newborn photographs, it may not be the photographs you've seen elsewhere that you really wanted. And more that just the aesthetic, there are huge safety measures that go into those newborn sessions and proper handling technique for getting those little squishy babies into those poses. Photoshop is also a key player in creating the looks you see. So if you do ask you real estate photographer friend to take newborn photos for you... make sure they really know what their doing first!

Here's another one... If you needed some professional headshots taken for your resume or to update your website, would you ask a landscape photographer to get those done for you? Maybe, but I doubt you'd use them! To photograph an entire landscape there are certain techniques used to capture the scene. Seeing the light over a vast landscape is one thing, seeing the light pass over someone's face is another. Just like a landscape photographer, a portrait photographer also has certain lighting techniques used to flatter the human face. If you have a big, honker of a nose and you would love to update your headshots.... but no photographer has ever been able to give you good results. A good portrait photographer will know which lighting patterns to use with the right posing and the right camera angle to capture flattering headshots.

Basically, basic photography skills are obviously needed in each genre. Then some types of photography require incredibly in-depth knowledge to produce any decent results. So, if you are hiring anyone for a photography service and are expecting professional results, I suggest asking some question to get an idea if that photographer can produce what you are hoping for.

If you have any questions for me, I'd love to help. Shoot me an email and I will do my best!

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