Photography exists in many different forms. Some are joyful, others thought-provoking, terrifying, and so on.
Some forms, known as aesthetic photography, are pleasant to look at.
But what makes these images stand out? Here’s all you need to understand and use aesthetics in your photography.
What Is Aesthetic Photography?
By definition, aesthetic is the measure or appreciation of beauty.
Like beauty, aesthetics aren’t easy to define in simple words. It all depends on the viewer’s preferences, experiences, and photography knowledge.
A beginner in landscape photography might find all kinds of photographs aesthetically pleasing. An expert might have a different opinion about the same images.
There are exceptions to every rule. But we can agree that certain images are more appealing than others. A few important factors make all the difference.
Knowing these can prevent unflattering compositions. And you can improve your photography.
Why Aesthetics Matter
Aesthetically pleasing photos aren’t only made for appreciation. If you know how to take photos that stand out, you’ll be able to provide future clients with impressive results.
You will enjoy having the ability to take eye-catching photos anywhere.
These are some of the many benefits of understanding how beautiful photography works. And why it matters.
Are Aesthetics and Style the Same Thing?
Finding and developing a style is an important part of any photographer’s journey. But it’s not the same as aesthetics. Photography style and photography aesthetic don’t go hand in hand. This means that you can have a strong style but no aesthetic at all.
Aesthetic goes a little further than that. Take a look at your gallery and see if you notice patterns in colour, composition, subjects, and so on. If there are similarities that make your general style stand out, you have an aesthetic.
Some photographers are known for their fantasy-themed images or their nostalgic snapshots. Or a subject they often shoot.
If you can recognise a photograph without knowing the creator’s name, then that artist has a strong aesthetic.
Also, if your images have an emotion that catches a person’s eye, you have an aesthetic image.
How Do You Take Aesthetic Pictures?
As you already know, aesthetic isn’t one solid thing, yet it consists of a few simple factors.
These are what makes almost every beautiful image stand out. They make you feel something. They inspire you to take stunning photos of your own.
The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds can improve compositions. It’s made up of two horizontal and two vertical lines.
You can visualise these yourself or have your camera do the work for you using visual guidelines.
Place your subjects where those lines intersect. Horizons should be parallel or on the horizontal lines.
These guidelines mean to improve your compositions and prevent dull photographs.
Leading lines can be anything as long as they all go in the same direction. Their purpose is to lead the viewer’s eyes to your subject.
Without them, your compositions might look too crowded or empty.
Common leading lines are shadows, roads, and train tracks. Because of the nature of this technique, it’s often used in landscape photography.
Gestalt Theory Principles
You’ll often notice these principles in aesthetically pleasing pictures.
Some of Gestalt’s principles include proximity, segregation, and closure. They all emphasise the importance of placing subjects in specific places. The mind can then process what it’s looking at.
For example, look at the proximity principle. It states that subjects that are close to each other look familial. You can use this to emphasise the relationship between two or more models in your photograph.
How to Make Your Photos Aesthetically Pleasing
Before you use this, you need to understand your unique preferences as an artist. This involves a few simple steps and you can figure it out.
Make a Collection of Images That Stand out to You
Your aim is to put all your photos in one place so you can find similarities and differences.
Later on, this will help you figure out what kind of image aesthetic you’re going for. And how to approach your own photography.
That way you can get an idea of their general aesthetic as well.
Observe and Take Notes to Understand Your Taste
Once all your references are in one place, you can start analysing them. Here are a few things you should look out for:
Do you have a mixture of subjects you like, or can you categorize them? Do you gravitate more towards people, landscapes, textures, etc.?
Is the light in the images limited, soft, harsh, or a mix of everything? Lighting is an important part of any image. Pay close attention to different lighting approaches to find out your go-to aesthetic.
How many techniques and principles can you name? This is a great photography exercise. And an easy way to understand what attracts you to certain photos. Are most of your favourite photos unconventional, or do they follow the rule of thirds?
Do you gravitate towards monochrome, vibrant, or faded photographs? Look out for editing and colour correcting tricks. You don’t need to be a Photoshop pro. Write down the kinds of colour combinations you like.
Are most of the photos sharp and detailed or soft and abstract? Try to figure out what camera settings the photographer used. You might notice that you like soft backgrounds, grainy photos, or unusual textures.
Be Curious And Introduce Yourself to New Concepts
Even expert photographers aren’t wizards. No matter how experienced you are, ask questions. Don’t be afraid of contacting your favourite photographers and asking for help. You might earn yourself valuable lessons and mentors for life.
You’ll also get an even clearer idea of why others approach photography a certain way.
Discuss Photography with Other Artists
You probably have an idea of your favourite photos and the people who took them. Discuss them with your peers!
You don’t have to limit yourself to photographers. But it would help if your friends knew even a little about photography. This way, you’ll get proper feedback that will all enrich your knowledge of aesthetics.
Your discussions don’t have to be philosophical. You can discuss the concept of aesthetics, other photographers’ portfolios. Even why certain images stand out more than others, and so on.
Take photos of your own. Make sure you consider them aesthetically pleasing. Ask for constructive criticism with an emphasis on aesthetics.
This might provide you with invaluable feedback.
Practice to Understand Your Aesthetic
With all this newfound knowledge in your head, you can start taking photos. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, have a few notes. Use them throughout your photoshoot.
As you take photos, see what you’re drawn to. If this matches with the notes you took, you’re close to understanding your aesthetic. You’ll be able to use this information whenever and wherever you take photos in the future.
As you can see, you don’t need to use complicated terms to describe your aesthetic. Experiment with simple terms until you find something that sounds right.
Your photography aesthetic matters. It can help you take striking photos. And you’ll have a better understanding of photography fundamentals. If you go through this process, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your unique style.