Photographic genres represent the different ways of approaching the art of photography. Photography, on the other hand, can be understood as the iconic and direct representation of reality. The photographer does not reproduce the real per se, but versions of the real. It photos to reduce the three-dimensionality of the world to the two-dimensionality of the image. It manages to capture the representation of a fact, a portion of that reality, for posterity.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the photographs conveyed a brutal reality, in the sense that it was extremely realistic, pure and direct, lacked tricks. Being a cut of the environment leads to the exclusion of certain elements and the hierarchy of the elements that are in the frame.
The representation of the world through images responds to expressive needs and specific demands for the use and consumption of photographs. When photography arises, it is intended to perform activities of the painting at that time. Expressive needs and demand were what generated the first categories of photography. These genres were very related to painting. In fact, they were the most representative pictorial genres when it seemed like photography.
These classifications are very useful when archiving the photos and finding them in records. The images can be classified according to their function, according to the referent and according to function and referent.
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Artistic or creative
The idea or concept behind the image belongs to the photographer. Seek to express, in an artistic way, a situation or just focus on an object. Aesthetics is essential. Among them we have the psychological portrait, photographic surrealism and abstraction, among others.
Psychological portrait: the subject is portrayed as the photographer perceives it, as he thinks it is.
Photographic surrealism: the image moves away from reality and new and unknown expressive environments are created where objects or subjects are developed.
Formal realism: it is carried out when an investigation of form, light, color, texture, perspective, framing, composition, etc. is done. This is done without abstracting reality and without showing the author’s feelings.
Artistic scientist: in this type of artistic photography, space, movement and relief are studied in a scientific way but with an aesthetic, therefore, artistic purpose.
Advertising: seeks to show a product or service in order to sell it. The product or service is shown in the most favourable way possible by exalting its most outstanding characteristics that differentiate it from the competition. As examples we have the advertising of brands such as Coca Cola, Chanel or Campari.
Scientific: it has a non-artistic or expressive, but informative, descriptive function. The photographer does not seek to express his feelings. It serves to record the evolution of an experiment, new discoveries, etc. It must be clear and clean. Among them we have: photomacrography, optical photomicroscopy, electronic photomicrocopy, forensic photography, infrared photography, ultraviolet, underwater photography, panoramic photography, among others.
Documentary: it lacks devices that try to beautify the photo. Its function is to capture reality as it is, in order to record the events of an event. Journalistic photography would be a documentary photograph.
According to the referent
In these photographic genres, the centre of attention is an object or person.
Landscape: it is simply the portrait of a natural or urban landscape. Mountains, lakes, forests, cities, etc. It comes from the genres of painting and is a small portion of a landscape chosen by the photographer. One tip is to capture what catches our attention, but you have to keep in mind that what the eye perceives is more than the camera can capture.
The human eye sees the images from left to right. If the element of interest is placed on the left side it will be an open image. If placed on the right side it will be a closed image.
Architecture: portrait of buildings, houses. They can be urban or rural, but all buildings. It can be artistic or documentary if it reflects the evolution of a city or country
Still life: it was also known as still life, because it included elements that were in the kitchens. Dry still life photos are the ones that are most related to those of the paintings. They admit shadows, textures and their colour are usually warm: they can be wood, wine bottles, fruits, flowers, etc.
On the other hand, wet still life photos admit more light, they are brighter. It does not support shadows and the textures are softer. You can portray fruits, vegetables, crystals. etc.
The use of this photographic genre occurs, above all, in advertising. There objects are carefully placed and there are three elements that must be taken into account. Light, composition and shot are essential to achieve the desired finish and generate an image that successfully sells the product.
People as a referent
Portrait: capture of a person’s face. It can be documentary if they are faces that tell a story or artistic if it is a fashion photo shoot or makeup. These photos reflect the person’s personality and character. Portraits can offer very intimate looks of a person; they can be very revealing. Due to its complexity there are usually photographers who specialise in this genre.
To make a good portrait it is better to eliminate the elements that do not contribute anything to it. Classical composition rules are ideal, like the law of thirds. It is also much more interesting to decentralise the individual. The ideal framing is the vertical, but the horizontal can help to include non-superfluous elements. Light also plays an important role because it helps to emphasise or not the individual’s features.
Photo report: it is a set of images, accompanied by short texts, related by a thematic unit. They are usually between 15 and 25 photographs. The photographer is an eyewitness to the reality he wants to portray. You can have an objective and realistic approach where you simply place your camera and photograph or emotionally get involved in the facts, which would alter the focus.
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