Genre definitions

These definitions have been suggested by leading photographic bodies including RPS, FIAP and the PAGB and most are in common usage by many other clubs – especially those who hold salons. They are reproduced here for guidance only and to assist members who may be unsure about the scope of these descriptions.

The Committee may chose to apply any of these definitions (eg. mono, nature, wildlife) in set subject/themed competitions, at its discretion, providing they give members reasonable notice of their intention to do so.

1  Creative

A creative image is one that is constructed in camera or during post processing from the photographer’s imagination. Creative images are often multilayered or made up from elements contained within more than one image. If this is the case all elements that appear in the final picture must have been taken by the photographer.

2  Landscape

In some external competitions landscapes are defined as an extensive area of natural scenery. This includes astroscapes, moonscapes, seascapes, waterscapes but not town or city scapes. Built images (such as abandoned structures, engineered features e.g. fence posts, windmills etc.), managed woodlands, man-made lakes, spoil tips, reservoirs, and wetland areas etc. may be included providing they give context to the natural environment. However the integrity of the image as a landscape must be maintained. Trees, fences, poles, roof lines must not be moved, removed or added. Nor must skies be replaced. It ishowever permitted to remove (but not add) transient elements of activity (human or otherwise) such as people, birds cars, boats, vapour trails etc. Generally speaking the title of a landscape image should reflect its location although this is not compulsory. The question of whether town and city scapes are landscapes is a controversial area.

3  Nature

To qualify as a nature image it must be either:

  1. A living or recently deceased untamed animal (this would include captive animals but not household pets) or …
  2. An uncultivated plant (which includes grasses, heathers, mosses, fungi, trees and weeds), in its natural state including those which are dead or ‘regenerating’, or …
  3. An image of some natural phenomena e.g. iceberg, flood plain, reef, tornado, extreme weather, volcano, however there is always the risk that such images might appear more akin to a landscape than to natural history image, and loose their impact.

4  Monochrome

A mono image is one that, when viewed, appears to have just one colour tone that ranges from different hues of its primary colour. A black and white mono consists entirely of shades of grey between a black and white spectrum.

A ‘coloured’ mono is permitted but the primary colour has to consist of hues from the same a single colour e.g. as in sepia.

An images that has been colour popped i.e. has just one area of colour on an otherwise black and white background is a polychrome image and would be ineligible in a mono competition.

5 Portraiture

A portrait may portray human or animal life. However there are several types of portrait…


Abstract portraits are mostly based on fantasy rather than a realistic representation of the subject, and have usually been distorted by digital manipulation.


Candid portraits are images of people (or animals) taken without the subject realising the photographers presence. Used a lot in ‘street photography’.


Creative images take many forms however all elements of the image must derive from images taken by the photographer.


Intended primarily to emphasise romantic appeal.

Life Style

Life style portraits are primarily intended to convey emotion usually ranging from happy to sad, loss and gain, poverty to affluence etc. They often include images of family life, culture, recreation and sport

Street Photography

Street photography is basically a form of candid photography where the emphasis is on capturing chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Street photography does not however have to include ‘a street’ or even an urban environment to be effective. Images of people in a contradictory or complimentary context, which also has visual humour or pathos works well.


Traditional or classical portraiture is generally of the face with the eyes being prominent. The subject is usually found to be looking directly at the camera. The image taken may be of the head, the head and shoulders, or partial or full body.

6 Travel Photography

Travel photography is a genre of photography that usually portrays people at home, at play or at work in different cultures where the emphasis is on documenting local customs, historic landmarks and inter relationship between places and people.

7  Wildlife

Wildlife images (as opposed to nature images) are confined to images taken of live animals in the wild in their natural environment i.e. non captive. These may be birds, carnivores, insects, invertebrates including fish, mammals, reptiles, and sea life including live coral reef. A wildlife image is always eligible to be entered in a nature competition but not vice versa.

8  AVs (Multi Media)

AV’s are primarily made up of a series of still images but may include some video footage providing in total it does not exceed 10% of the entire length. AV’s may include a musical soundtrack, sound effects, voice-overs or commentary. AV’s are usually time limited, usually 3 to 5 minutes.

9  Open

By way of comparison, open competitions are ones where any genre of image can be entered. The image can be ‘as taken’, or a composite, digitally created, or significantly altered. Any alterations must however have been be undertaken by the photographer. Basically any category is acceptable in an open competition.

error: Content protected by copyright