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What are the Six Genres of Fine Art Photography?

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

If you aspire to be a fine art photographer, it’s essential to get a good understanding of what fine art photography is.


Fine art photography differs from other types of photography in that it focuses more on the art than the subject. So while a photographer might take a picture of a party, a fine art photographer will express an idea about the party in the pictures he or she are taking.


They will do this by setting a mood through the angle, the lighting and other elements.


There are certain types of fine art photography and staying within these genres will elevate the shots you are taking. This article will review these genres so you have a better understanding of what they are.




Portraitures are pictures of people. If you want to take your photos to a fine art level, you will want to avoid having your prints come out like simple headshots.


Therefore, you won’t want the focus of the picture to be the subject or their personality. Rather, you will want to emphasize other elements such as the scenery around them. In doing so, add interest by including unusual props, abstract centering and emotional lighting.


Your subject’s reactions will bring an emotional element.




Not all photographs are conceptual, but all photographs that are classified as conceptual would be considered fine art.


As the name suggests, conceptual photographs revolve around a concept. A person may or may not be included, but they will rarely be the focus of the photo in terms of the idea it is conveying.


Conceptual photos are often abstract in nature and may closely resemble pieces of fine art like paintings and sculptures.


Still Life


Still life photography is the photography of an object. A person will never be included in a still life.


If you look on the internet, you will find countless pictures of food. So are these fine art? No.


To qualify as fine art, the picture will have to tell a story other than, mmmm, my food was delicious. This can be achieved by combining two unlikely objects together, positioning them oddly or playing with color and texture to add a thought-provoking appeal.




It is difficult to take nature photography that wouldn’t be considered fine art. However, you can make your nature photography even more emotional by using macro, playing with light, using a variety of advanced techniques or adding effects in post.




Architectural photography is any photograph of a building or structure. But if you are aiming for a fine art appeal, you don’t want your images to look like they came out of a catalogue.


Rather, you will want to use the angles and textures of what you are photographing to provide depth, both in a physical way and on an emotional level. Play with shapes and shadows to give your shots a unique look.

Look at stairways, doorways and other geometric elements to take your photos to the next level.




When you shoot street photography, for the most part, you are documenting what’s going around you. So how can you make that into fine art?  

One way to do this is to focus on a subject in an interesting manner. For instance, if you see a woman passing by, take a picture of something she is holding rather than capturing a full on shot of her face and body. If you see a crowd, take photos from the back instead of from the front.


Another suggestion is to go in with a theme in mind. Think of capturing a certain type of vibe or emotion. Then look at what’s around you to become inspired.


Note: You can take a picture of just about anything and incorporate unique angles and colors to give it a fine art vibe, but it’s better to go in with a concept you would like to express. This will give the photo meaning so it connects to others on an emotional level, and it will make your work stand out.


Now that you have a better idea of what fine art photography is, you are ready to get out there and start shooting. Which of these genres will you be tackling first?

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