Writing my recent post on Fine Art Photography got me thinking about the different categories of photographs which now exist. To me there are only 4 genres of photography, which are:

  • Nature
  • People & Pets
  • Objects
  • Creative

These genres can then be divided down into sub-sections:

  • Nature:
    Wildlife (including macro)
    Flora & Fauna (including macro)

    Specific rules apply to the Nature genre, which broadly specify that images should not be altered from the original scene and only mild edits are allowed in post production. Focus stacking and HDR are acceptable.
  • People & Pets:
    Documentary (including travel, editorial & photojournalism)
    Domesticated animals, eg sheep, cattle, pets

    In my opinion, competition rules for people shots should be similar to those for traditional photography where nothing is allowed to be added, although any style of photography can be used and most editing techniques are acceptable.
  • Objects:
    Architecture & buildings
    Food & drink
    Still life
    All other man-made objects

    Again, competition rules for object shots should be similar to those for traditional photography where nothing is allowed to be added although any style of photography can be used and most editing techniques are acceptable.
  • Creative:
    Fine Art (see my last post for a proposed fine art definition)
    Conceptual (must contain a concept)
    Composite (including stitching, eg for a panorama)
    All other creative images

    This genre needs its own set of rules, whereby shots can have elements removed or replaced, so long as all pictorial elements of the image are originally photographs taken by the author with a camera. Any style of photography can be used and all editing techniques are acceptable.

Having looked at the various genres, it seems odd to me that when I enter an International Salon the options are usually: Open colour, Open mono, Nature & Travel. Firstly, travel scapes are already included in Nature and secondly if you’re going to offer the specific genre of Nature should you not offer People, Objects & Creative too? What makes Nature so special (and I say this as someone whose first passion in photography is wildlife)?

Instead of Open sections, if we had competitions which had the 4 sections above, each with their own rules and criteria, I think it might allay much of the frustration and anger which is currently being expressed regarding creative photos v record photos. Judges wouldn’t have to guess whether a landscape image had had a new sky added or whether a portrait had been photographed in situ because the rules would state whether this was allowed or not. The only genre of photography which would allow any composites would be creative, although photographers must be aware that stitched panorama landscapes would then be classed as part of the creative genre.

Photography has moved on hugely in just the past decade and I personally think it’s time for a review of the categories currently used in competitions. It has to be a level playing field and it’s not fair for record photographers to have to compete against composite photographers. Just my thoughts, for what they’re worth!

One comment

  1. […] had broached the subject of the categories used in International Salons, which I wrote about in this post. Travel is almost always a category on its own, but it favours male photographers because it is not […]


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