Specialty Guidelines

The following is a list of specialties that we use to describe our photographers and an explanation for each.

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 our definitions of them.

ADVENTURE

Picks up where outdoor 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.

AERIAL

Anything shot from a manned aircraft or drone.

ANIMALS

Pets, livestock, or wildlife, with or without humans.

ARCHITECTURE

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 ability to handle mixed lighting.

AUTOMOTIVE

Primarily about cars, but can feature other vehicles like motorcycles, boats, and planes. Mostly shows the vehicles as products, but can also be about the culture surrounding them.

BEAUTY

Images of beautiful faces, bodies, hair. Mostly used to promote cosmetics, hair products, jewelry, glasses. Often expertly retouched. Can include still life pictures of cosmetic products when a photographer specializes in that.

CELEBRITY

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.

CONCEPTUAL

Normally planned and produced to convey a specific idea, often using props, wardrobe, makeup, exaggeration, special effects, retouching for dramatic or comedic effect.

CORPORATE

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.

EDUCATION

Captures the experience of learning, often in an organized school setting, from early childhood to post-grad.

FASHION

Emphasizes clothes, shoes, accessories, usually worn by professional models, but can also be still life.

FINE ART

Pictures without a particular commercial or editorial agenda, or which transcend that agenda.

FOOD & DRINK

Food or drink as a product or an experience, including showing it being grown, prepared, served, consumed.

HEALTHCARE

Mostly upbeat pictures of patients, doctors, nurses, caregivers, often in an institutional setting.

HOME & GARDEN

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.

HOSPITALITY

Photos that integrate aspects of Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Architecture, and Home & Garden, and are primarily aimed at hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines.

INDUSTRIAL

Shows people building, making, growing things (especially on a large scale) including construction, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, commercial fishing, energy, pharmaceutical.

KIDS

Emphasizing children or capturing the experience of growing up. Mostly well-produced and upbeat, but can be journalistic as well.

LANDSCAPE

Can include open spaces of all sorts - urban, suburban, rural, water, aerial, night, day, with or without people/animals/structures/objects.

LIFESTYLE

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.

LIQUIDS

Sometimes still, but often spilling, splashing, pouring, mixing, or foaming. Usually shot in a controlled environment and often highly produced and retouched.

MOTION

Shows a mastery of moving pictures (and often sound) through a directors reel or individual projects that demonstrate good production value, technical and storytelling skills. Generally not behind-the-scenes or basic event coverage. 

MUSIC

Musicians, playing, singing, candid or posed. Can be concert coverage provided the pictures show a level of creativity elevating them beyond mere snapshots.

PORTRAITURE

Usually depicts individuals or groups who are aware of (if not always looking at) the camera. 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).

REPORTAGE

The activity of real life as it’s happening—including breaking news, features, culture, sometimes sports or work situations, anything revealing the human condition, shot in a journalistic (though sometimes in a more artful) way.

SPORTS & FITNESS

Anything relating to sports, games, athletes, fitness, exercise—can be candid (action) or controlled.

STILL LIFE

Any inanimate object not covered by our other specialties, often products.

TRAVEL

Pictures that offer a favorable depiction of a locale from a traveler’s point of view – emphasizing food, culture, history, scenery, and accommodations in an upbeat way.

UNDERWATER

You guessed it. Could be shot in oceans, swimming pools or bathtubs, of people, animals or objects.

YOUTH CULTURE

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.