We strive to provide clients with the most useful list of specialties possible so they can effectively find photographers who are appropriate for their project. We need enough specialties to cover most commercial and editorial assignments without having so many that it makes the list confusing or unwieldy for our clients or our staff. Our specialties tend to describe the subject matter rather than the clients (which is why we don’t use terms like Advertising or Editorial). We do our best to follow industry standards when defining these terms, but they are all subject to interpretation by our staff. In order to qualify for any of these categories, photos have to be relevant to some sort of client, and we always consider their quality, quantity, and cohesiveness. Photographers need to show solid proficiency in a specialty, not just show a few appropriate photos. Please let Bill know if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions about how we can improve upon our list of specialties or their definitions.
Picks up where active lifestyle leaves off, including extreme sports and other rigorous outdoor activities. Can be highly produced or more journalistic in approach. Demonstrates the photographer’s ability to tackle remote locations and/or adrenaline-fueled action.
Anything shot from a high vantage point, usually from a drone or piloted aircraft.
Pictures illustrating the practice of cultivating, breeding, or harvesting plants and animals to provide food, wool, and other products.
Pets, livestock, or wildlife, with or without people.
Primarily concerned with the inside or outside of a structure, more so than the people, furniture or decor in or around it. Should demonstrate a high degree of technical proficiency including perspective control and the ability to handle mixed lighting.
Primarily about cars, but can include other vehicles like motorcycles, boats, trains, helicopters, and planes. Mostly shows the vehicles as products, but can also be about the culture surrounding them.
Images of beautiful faces, bodies, and hair. Mostly used to promote cosmetics, fragrances, hair and skin products, jewelry, or glasses. Often expertly retouched. Can also include still life pictures of the make-up products themselves.
Anything with the human body as the primary subject. Can often include nudes.
Similar to Lifestyle in terms of depicting an idealized version of real life, but in addition, the photos need to tell a story (using multiple pictures in a series) about a consumer or producer’s engagement with a particular product or brand. Read more.
Capturing daily news events.
Film set photography, behind the scenes production process shot for the purposes of film continuity or for promotion.
Anyone widely recognizable, candid or portrait. Mostly entertainers of some sort. Can be models, musicians or athletes, but only when they transcend their fashion, music or sports realm. Photographers should demonstrate exceptional portrait skills, and experience working with individuals requiring special handling, extra planning, and limited sitting time.
Images containing elements created entirely in a computer, usually intended to look like a realistic photograph.
Normally planned and produced to convey a specific idea, often using props, wardrobe, makeup, exaggeration, special effects, retouching for dramatic or comedic effect.
Reporting in extreme conditions like war, famine, epidemics.
Broadly encompasses the world of business, often showing people dressed in business attire in business environments doing business-like things. Can be shot in reportage, lifestyle, portrait or conceptual styles.
Captures the experience of learning, often in an organized school setting, from early childhood to post-grad.
Candid or posed photos at events such as sales meetings, conferences, or conventions.
Emphasizes clothes, shoes, accessories, usually worn by professional models.
Pictures that express an aesthetic or intellectual (rather than commercial or editorial) message.
Food or drink as a product or an experience, including showing it being grown, prepared, served, consumed.
A GIF is a short, repeating video clip; sometimes stop-motion, other times live-action. Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip.
Flattering head-and-shoulders photos of people. Can be in a studio or on location.
Mostly upbeat pictures of patients, doctors, nurses, caregivers, often in an institutional setting. Can include pharmaceutical and health science research and manufacturing.
Similar to Architecture, but with more emphasis on the furnishings and decor in or around the structure and less about the structure itself. Sometimes includes people. Usually, but not always residential.
A combination of Food & Drink, Architecture, Home & Garden, and especially Lifestyle photos that convey the experience of hotels, resorts, spas, or cruise lines.
Often used by aid organizations and meant to raise awareness of and provide relief from human suffering.
Shows people building and making things (especially on a large scale), including construction, mining, manufacturing, transportation, and energy. Read more.
Emphasizing children or capturing the experience of growing up. Mostly well-produced and upbeat, but can be journalistic as well.
Landscape photographs concern themselves with the vastness of a space. Normally outdoors, those spaces can be urban, suburban, rural, land or water, night or day. There is usually a horizon and the photos can include people, animals, structures, or objects as long as they don’t dominate the scene. Read more.
Depicts an idealized, aspirational version of real life. Usually showing happy, attractive people in nice clothes doing fun things in beautiful places. Often using professional models, hair/make-up, props, wardrobe, locations, and yet still looking authentic. Often intended to help promote a product or service, but can be used editorially as well.
Sometimes still, but often spilling, splashing, pouring, mixing, or foaming. Usually shot in a controlled environment and often highly produced and retouched.
Musicians, actors, dancers, or other performers, playing, singing, acting, performing – candid or posed. If the photos are of a performance, they need to show a level of creativity beyond mere event coverage.
Depicts individuals or groups of people who are aware of (if not always looking at) the camera and at least superficially engaged with the photographer (as opposed to reportage, where subjects tend to be less engaged with the photographer). Portraits tend to say something about the character of the subject (as opposed to a fashion photograph which tends to obscure rather than reveal the personality of the subject).
Any depiction of science or technology, such as phones, computers, etc.
Long-form reporting as opposed to daily news coverage.
Anything relating to sports, games, athletes, fitness, exercise—can be candid (action) or controlled.
Any inanimate object not covered by our other specialties, often products.
Upbeat pictures that show us what a place is like, emphasizing scenery, culture, attractions, activities, sometimes food and accommodations. Often from a tourist’s point of view. Read more.
You guessed it. Could be shot in oceans, swimming pools or bathtubs, of people, animals or objects.
Shows a mastery of moving pictures (and usually sound) through a director’s reel or individual projects that demonstrate good production value, and technical and storytelling skills. Generally not behind-the-scenes, or basic interviews or event coverage. This category includes time-lapse photography, but not cinemagraphs, GIFs, or stop-motion.
Pictures showing what makes teenagers and young adults different from the rest of us in the way they dress, behave, relate to each other. Can be staged, but sometimes real or at least look real.