Fine Art Photography
Jul 10, 2019
Fine Art Photography Guide
In the past decade, digital photography has undergone mind-blowing evolution, exacerbated by the advent of smartphone camera. Everyone is now able to give photography a shot. With smartphone cameras getting better and better, the chances of you becoming a professional photographer are also increasing. Even in the field of fine art photography.
So, what is the difference between “regular” art photography and fine art photography? Meticulousness. Regular photography captures a moment or a scene as is. The aim of regular photography is often for the viewer’s keepsake, for capturing something new or interesting in their perspective. However, in fine art photography, the artist sets the image up for interpretation. Fine art photography aims to evoke emotions in a viewer. It’s intentional and deliberate. There is something the photographer wants you to see, to feel, to ponder on. The photographer tries to connect with the viewer through his/her lens. As long as you have an eye for detail, fine art is definitely something you can groom within yourself. All you need to know is the basics and some ideas on what you can explore on.
Fine Art Photography Basics
Here are some of the important tips and tricks you should know about fine art photography:
As an artist, you can’t afford to lack vision. This is in terms of the pictures you are taking and in terms of what you wish to achieve in the long run. If you lack vision about your photography, you can’t pull a viewer in and along with your image. If you lack vision about what you want, you won’t have an idea about your goals and where you want to place yourself in this world as a photographer.
Fine art is all about expressing emotions, a message, or an idea. You want to evoke something within the viewer that’s beyond the image. Examples of interesting ideas to convey through your images include abandonment, exploration, torture, love, and hatred.
Body of work
In the long run, you should have a body of work showing your techniques, subjects, and ideas. Unity, by having a theme or a story, is an important factor to consider when organizing your photos for your portfolio or perhaps even your exhibit.
Successful photographers have something in common – they have a technique that they are able to execute really well, and it becomes their trademark. If you try to perfect a technique and execute it in all your photographs, it makes it easy for viewers to connect with your vision and your work because there’s a consistency to it.
An artist statement is essential if you want to excel in fine art photography. It describes the purpose of the work, how it was created, and what created it. Clearly communicating the reason and the context of your photos helps viewers to form their own connections to it.
How to Venture into Fine Art Photography:
Equipment and Camera
Equipment is everything in photography so investing in high-quality gear can help you produce outstanding work. Since fine art prints are usually large, it’s easy for sensory imperfections to show up. To minimize this, buy a camera that can express details on large prints, preferably something with a higher resolution. Investing in lenses, particularly, prime lenses can also help you with producing pictures with higher detail and sharpness as they have a desirable focal length.
A photograph is only as good as the lighting. But when it comes to fine art photography, it is important for you to master light and use it to your advantage. Errors in lighting when it comes to fine art can lead to misjudgments in interpretations and perspectives of your pictures. The aspects of the subject you wish to show should have light falling on them – naturally, or artificially if needed. Perfection is key. Appropriate modifiers can also go a long way in improving your photo and expressing what you have in mind.
Models and Subjects
If your shoots are long in duration, hiring a professional model can really help as they can hold particular postures for long. Other important details to consider when hiring models are makeup, hair, and costumes and how you want them to show up in your pictures.
On the other hand, conducting a shoot with inanimate objects can prove to be trickier than you think. For example, if you want to take the perfect picture of an apple, you have to ensure that there are absolutely no scratches, damages or discoloration. Very minimal differences can turn out to be very poignant in fine art photography due to how detailed and vivid the images are.
Post-production is all about creating natural results by following the right process. It is not all artificial light and special effects. The key is to clear imperfections as needed so that the image aligns with your vision. Sharpen the image, fix minor errors, and clean up the noise. If you think your image is perfect, don’t pressure it with further editing. Fine art photography is all about fine tuning only when needed.
Getting Started In Fine Art Photography
A degree in fine art is not really necessary to become a fine art photographer – a love for art and attention to detail is more than enough. However, clarity in goals and the stories you want to tell through your photographs is important. As mentioned before, you can’t afford to lack vision. Here are some questions you could ask yourself to help clarify those:
What am I passionate about?
What message do I intend to convey through a photograph?
What subjects of photography interests me?
What techniques do I want to explore?
This helps you to ground your vision and your approach with the pictures you will be taking. If you are wondering where to start with your pictures, here are some ideas on the types of fine art photography for you to experiment:
Black and White Photos
Many of us think “color” when we are talking about photography. However, there is so much beauty and potential in black and white photos as well. Since the color element of the picture is muted, pay attention to texture, light, and contrast so that you can really amp up the subject in your photo and produce stunning, powerful images. Be open to the idea of black and white colors and tap into your imagination.
This is still heavily under-explored and only a few have done so. Underwater photography calls for special gear which may be slightly expensive. But if you’re passionate about it and believe in your vision, it is a worthy investment. Some stunning images that have come up so far in the fine art photography world are from underwater photography – floating models, dream-like sequences, strange and haunting images. An idea would be to work with the nature of water – think of those images you have seen where models in voluminous dresses seem suspended underwater and the image looks so free-flowing.
Street photography is yet another interesting concept you can try. Many of us see the everyday activities on the street – theft, crime, romance, love, and beauty among others. However, it takes a creative mind to see the normal, everyday activity in an artistic way. Be playful with the subjects and see what images you can get. Try to add emotions by playing with the background. What most of us take for granted as “daily” and “mundane” sights can be turned into something really special.
Fashion is head turning, be it in person or in photography. Fashion photography is a fascinating platform and can be a great way to grab people’s attention. There’s so much to play around with – clothing, makeup, hair, designs and mood. If you have a vision of what you want to do and a theme to focus on, the possibilities of producing stunning and chic images are endless. Since fashion is so diverse and universal, it’s easy for viewers to relate and connect with the photos.
There is always something happening at a wedding, which is why you have to be attentive and quick on your feet. The moment a couple is announced as married, a parent looking on with pride and joy, friends cheering in the background – these are precious moments that cannot be staged nor repeated just so you could have the perfect frame. You have to capture it the moment it’s happening for authentic and emotional photographs. Be clear on the theme of the event, the setting and the goals of the couple. Experiment with different perspectives if possible, so that you can come up with photos that are unique to each wedding.
Everyone gives a second look at food – be it on their feed on Instagram or a poster advertising a new item on a fast food restaurant’s menu on the subway. Some even consider going to the food place the next time they are free to check out the dish as soon as they see it. That is the effect of food photography.
You know by now that fine art photography is all about the detail and food photography is no exception. Because of the colors involved in a dish, lighting is key in food photography. Keep the shadows away or use them in a creative way. Maximize every detail as much as you can – the crispness of a piece of lettuce, the sunny feel of the outdoor seating of a café, or the lushness of a scoop of ice-cream. Think about what you want to make the viewer feel when they see the dish – hungry, homesick, thirsty.
Sports is different for a bystander and someone actually engaged in the sport. If you aim to tell the story of the athlete, then think about what you want to share about them and what you want your pictures to show and what you want your viewers to feel. Do you want the viewer to feel the triumph the athlete felt when she won? Do you want the viewer to feel the agony the athlete felt when he injured himself in the middle of the game? Think about how can you use angles, shapes, and levels to weave these stories. For example, you can capture ice skaters in motion while you are moving at different angles. Such efforts can produce interesting and one-of-a-kind photos.
Family photography might sound simple but what sets you apart from the posed and stiff photos by an amateur? What proves you as a professional in this field and how can your insight and attention to detail come in? How are you going to capture the essence of the family? How are your photos going to make viewers understand what a loving family this is, or a close-knit family this is? Some of the things that you can consider in family photography are composition, expression, and location.
Nature is simply amazing. There are a lot of things to enjoy and do with wildlife. Which is why this is another field you have to be present in the moment. It’s also a field that requires plenty of patience from your part. Shots such as territorial behavior, feeding habits, hunting, family, and animal temperament all have to be caught in the moment as there is no way you can ask an animal to do what it has just done again. Good lenses and equipment can be useful investments for the best possible results but at the end of the day, inattentiveness can still result in blurry and unsteady images. Nature has too many “blink and you missed it” moments.
Fine Art Photography Business
Just like other businesses, fine art photography can be challenging when starting out. But if you focus on expressing your creativity and offering quality photos, you will soon see results. Just like any other field, don’t copy what someone more established is already doing. You need to stand out so think about what you can do that’s different, engage in something that interests you and invest in the essentials. It’s easy to tell when a photo was taken by someone who is passionate about the subject and when it was not. Let people find something interesting about your work.
Another problem in the photography world is that artists tend to undervalue themselves while also hoping for premium rates “one day”. Most photographers are passionate and provide quality photos at too low a price. Some even go on to dismiss their work as “nothing” and how it’s easy for them to capture such images. Bear in mind that not everyone can capture a shot the same way you do and that not everyone has the same perspective as you. Your price should cover the cost of your resources, your skill, and the time you invested towards perfecting your craft.
Remember that just like any other business, marketing is important in fine art photography as well. This is how you attract clients and customers. You can choose to hold an exhibition but these days, with social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, you can save so much time and effort. Use them to your advantage – use the relevant hashtags to get people to see your pictures, interact with fellow users to get direct feedback on your work and even network with fellow photographers and key people in the industry to create opportunities for yourself. Hard work and staying true to your craft and voice can soon produce you powerful results.
If you are interested in learning more about my nature pictures and fine art photography please visit my website to learn more! ~Robbie George