What Is Fine Art Photography?
Researching this topic will tell you that fine art is contrasted against representational photography, such as photojournalism.
It puts fine art and art photography as a process where the artist/photographer tries to express their perceptions and emotions. These are then shared with others.
Commercial photography is not fine art photography, even though both sets of images are saleable and often commissioned.
This is not to say that fine art does not overlap photojournalism. The concepts seem to come from different places and the end result is often different, even if the processes are the same.
In this article, the author tries to define what makes a photograph fine art. He looks at messages within photographs and sees that fine art images do not always portray some kind of message to the viewer.
He comes to the fact that the fine art photograph is so due to evoking emotion. These emotions tie us to the images and help make them more relatable.
The conclusion for him is that intention plays the biggest part of what makes a photograph fine art. Deliberation is the act of doing something with purpose, as no fine art photographs are snapshots. They could take years.
Art is an all-encompassing term that refers to all human creativity. It looks through various activities and forms of things that people do or create. Fine Art refers to a physical and aesthetical piece of art. These can be photography, painting or sculpting, amongst others.
Art requires a person to be imaginative, creative and expressive. It is also the process and use of creative skill-sets. Here, created art follows the idea of stimulating or moving the viewer.
Themes, moods or technical skills help to create these emotive and creative art pieces.
Fine art photography comes from a personal concept. It evokes emotion and feelings through the mood and themes of the photograph. These images tend to say more about the photographer and the way they see or process the world than the actual images.
Commercial photography can be images commissioned from a company who is looking for a specific theme or mood. They find the photographer based on these ideas, in the form of a brief.
Here, the photographer mixes what the company wants and their own inspiration and creativity.
Both areas share the same idea of selling that photograph, yet the commercial field means not having to sell the image yourself.
Thomas Hodges – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hodges_(artist)
Wanting to start a fine art photographic journey is already great, but where to go from here? You need to start with a concept that you have an interest in. This will make it easier to work towards as your passion will help to drive you.
Once you create a concept, you need to think about your audience. Your images might have the purpose of being sold, and your audience are the people who are going to buy them.
Experiment. Experiment to death. You will have ups and downs, and it is completely natural. Find that theme that works well and stick with it. Become the ambassador of that theme.
John Keatley – keatleyphoto.com
From researching fine art photography for inspiration, you will come across many images that are like yours.
Creating original fine art photography is difficult. Your creativity and mindset is built from previously seen images and themes.
The field of photography or the subject that you choose might not be new. It is possible to create something original by looking at these in different ways. Try using a different perspective or adjusting the image differently in post-production.
Julia Anna Gospodarou – blog.juliaannagospodarou.com
Here is a list of ten mistakes that fine art photographers repeatedly make. One big area is that the subject shouldn’t always be centred. Look at the rules of composition, and try the rule of thirds or leading lines.
Make sure you work in manual mode on your camera. Autofocusing and autoexposure are the easiest way to make your photograph look bland and dull.
Look at where you want the light, which should highlight the area of interest in your image.
Also, try to stay clear of ‘ordinary’ pictures. Everyone has photographs of a sunset on the beach. Refine the image by creating something else in the scene, which pushes the sunset to a beautiful secondary subject in your image.
They can help you make the photograph more interesting.
Inspiration comes from all walks of life. Film, art and reading are huge sources. Fables and even religious books, such as The Ramayana can all provide something.
You have no idea where your mind will go to when your thoughts and imagination take over.
When I studied photography, I looked at books on psychology and read Sci-fi novels. These gave me more ideas and inspiration than books about photography. I didn’t want to look at what was already out there, it wasn’t helpful to me.
It let my mind reach places that hopefully other photographers hadn’t. In turn, this helped me create something original.
Psychology and Science Fiction are passions of mine. By using these topics meant I could work harder and stay focused longer.
Here is a list of 70 photographs for you to use for inspiration. They cover topics such as portraiture, landscape, abstract and surreal fine art areas. Look at Pinterest, Instagram, Unsplash and 500px for further insight.
NJ Sabs – 1x.com/member/4317
One way to experiment with fine art photography is motion blur. This is a technique that can be done in many different ways. You can photograph moving subjects over a period of time creating a long-exposure.
This is a technique that works well with subjects and backgrounds where one is still, the other is moving. Having that contrast is a great compositional tool.
You could even move your camera physically. Either by moving in up, down or sideways as you press the shutter. Even by zooming in while you photograph, you create the movement in the image.
You can create some great fine art techniques in your own home, using a few extra pieces of equipment. Experimenting with paint in a glass tank filled with water can give you some very creative photographs.
The paint will drip into the water and will continue to float in the translucent space. You can continue to add different colours or patterns. By using two lights in a simple light set up, you can create a white space to make the colours pop.
This is a great way to help get children interested in art as they can take part.
Your camera equipment depends on what you are photographing. A DSLR would be useless underwater without a cover. Likewise, a large format camera would be useless for small, tight spaces.
At the end of the day, all cameras take photographs. The quality might differ from model to model. Unless you are creating a billboard, you don’t need a 50mp sensor.
Your creativity is the most important aspect here, the camera and gear is secondary. Read our article here for help with equipment and other camera gear.
Lenses, along with your camera, allow you to capture your fine art concept and turn it into an image. They are what determine the aperture and focal length.
A differential focus or shallow depth of field is best achieved with a fast or wide f/stop.
The focal length affects the workable distance between you and the subject. If the subject is close, then a wide-angle or 50mm lens works well.
If the subject is further away, then a zoom or telephoto lens would work better. Be aware that the perspective changes with each of the lenses.
So does the distance between the subject and the background.
How to Photograph Fine Art?
When it comes to landscape photography, this article suggests forgetting about the fine art label. Instead, concentrate on taking better photographs
There is no defining line of what makes a landscape fine art. We know that a bad photograph of a landscape will not be fine art.
Putting your heart, soul and passion into your work is the most you can do. By creating an impact through emotion in your photography, then you are creating art.
Black and white is very different from colour photography. The input from the artist is much more important than the photographed subject.
Fine art photography begins in your head, not in the outside world. You need to think in black and white, which means focusing on contrast, light and texture.
Here, there are no stiff rules and techniques. The limitations are only down to your emotional vision, your imagination and the 256 shades of grey in your black and white image.
Julia Anna Gospodarou – juliaannagospodarou.com
Out of the possibilities of fine art photography, street photography is a new style and concept. It stems from being able to see the street and daily life in a different way.
Henri-Cartier Bresson’s street photography resembles fine art photography as you sense him in the images. You can feel his creativity and his playfulness in the subjects he photographs.
His artistic background helped him see the world in a different way. This puts the daily life we see all day as banal in a refreshing light.
Julia Anna Gospodarou – juliaannagospodarou.com
Portrait photography is the biggest area of conceptual and fine art. As the focus is the portrait, posing the model is key.
Twisting the body is a great way to escape the rigged, block body shape. This will also give them a sense of movement, instead of standing still.
To keep that mood of wonderment, separate arms and legs. This dreamy stance allows negative space to give an impression of the model moving.
Imagine Alice entering wonderland. Her innocent, childlike poses encapsulated in a strange, mystical land.
Brooke Shaden – brookeshaden.com
Underwater photography is an area of portrait photography. Here, the setting helps to create strangely beautiful poses.
The suspended models look like they exist on some mythical, ethereal plane. This reiterates the wonderful, dream-like state that attributes to the fine art feel.
The styling of hair, makeup and clothing is important to give the mood and feeling of the image. Big dresses work well to extenuate that creative, free-flowing atmosphere.
Fashion photography captures the flamboyancy of the hair, makeup and clothing. These three things combined with the model and setting all come from a clear, creative vision.
The styling of the mise en scene denotes the mood and air of the model through poses and expressions. Altogether they create fine art photography.
You will find a large part of fashion photography focuses on the fine art aspect. This is down to fashion houses not selling a product. They sell a mood and feeling.
They are creative and eye-catching, and sometimes shocking. This is because they have to be to stand out and grab attention.
Lindsay Adler – lindsayadlerphotography.com
Food photography can be seen in two different ways. Those images used for commercial and social media uses. And those that follow something artistic.
An example of this would be to photograph the food as still life. By placing the items carefully, with intent, in a still life composure, you can recreate classical paintings.
To achieve this style, first look at the light. Use one light source and keep the shadows and negative space. The contrast helps give the images depth.
Will Kemp – willkempartschool.com/
Wedding photography is about running around and capturing all the faces and little moments of a matrimonial event. Making sure you have captured all the relatives is an art in itself, but what about a fine art approach?
Fine art wedding photography is an area where a lot of thought has gone into the photography session.
Each wedding day requires a different approach. This will depend on the couple, the setting and the discussed theme.
Communication with the bride and groom is key. Experimenting with perspectives can give a very creative look.
Gillespie Photography – gillphotos.com
Macro photography is looking at details up-close-and-personal. You already create something abstract by photographing something small and blowing the image up to bigger than 1x.
To make images like these into fine art masterpieces is to formulate a concept. What do you want to say with your images? The idea or concept behind the image is what makes it artistic.
Compositions can help show the flower or insect from a different perspective. The viewers subconsciously see the intent and search for the mood.
A glitch is the result of a digital system malfunctioning. They cross images, videos, sound files and all types of software or hardware.
A digital photographic image transferred badly can give you a glitch. This happens due to the file missing information.
Created digitally and with intent, these add an interesting, artistic layer to your image. It reminds people that they are looking at the representation of an image, not a physical print.
Megan Kennedy – megankennedyphotographer.com
When you immerse yourself into an area of photography, you get to see it from the inside. You have a different view of those looking in from the outside.
Your passion allows you to see all of the inner workings, and that is what fine art sports photography embodies.
By focusing on these small details, you can use them to create something conceptual. The idea of photographing sports in a fine art way is almost unimaginable.
Yet, with composition and utilizing perspective, you can evoke emotions from your viewers.
Lorenz Holder – lorenzholder.com
Architecture photography has a very big place in fine art photography. It is an area where you can take your time to plan and experiment, as they are static structures.
The perspective you choose can give precedent to areas of the architectural subject. Here, you create a feeling and mood of the setting.
The building or structure needs to first evoke an emotion in you. How you interpret the subject through your initial impression is important.
Using your mobile phone can be a great way to capture fine art photographs. Here, you need to apply all the tips and techniques you would use with a DSLR.
Yet, to change the aperture and shutter speed you will need an app such as Camera+.
Change your perspective. Think about your composition of how the subject relates to their background. Approach a scene like an art director, looking from different angles and focusing on the details of the setting.
Smartphones also have the capacity to host many lenses, such as wide angle and telephoto. Yes! A telephoto lens for your iPhone! This can be used to change the perspective of the distance between your subject and the background by shortening the relative gap.
David Hsia – artofvisuals.com/author/dhsia/
Photographing lightning is no easy feat. The subject in question is moving at 320,000,000 ft per second or about 1/3 the speed of light. And then gone in a flash.
A relatively long shutter speed is needed to capture the segment of time the lightning will occur in. A lightning trigger can be used, and it will fire off the image automatically.
Incorporating lightning into an image can help to add that fine art quality. This is something that can work well in with landscape, street and even astrophotography.
It shows the viewer that you have really taken the time to add all these elements together. This takes planning and a concept to follow.
Creating fine art family photography means looking at locations, expressions and composition. Rather than taking snapshots of this close-knit group, each capture needs to have thought behind it.
Ad-hoc images work, but the whole series needs to come from planning and a clear concept.
These photographs need to differ from the stiff and posed images that denote the usual group images. This means utilising your location, focusing on the light and contrast that comes with it.
Look at every scene for what it can offer and act accordingly.
Paper Deer Photo – paperdeerphoto.com
Fine art wildlife photography differs from simply documenting creatures in their usual habitat. This fails to create something compelling and creative.
This field is a popular theme within the photographic world. These photographers focus on capturing these animals throughout their daily life.
The fine art aspect comes into play when you capture something special and different. An artistic or creative touch can have a big impact. Read here for some very good tips on creating art from animals and their habitats.
The business aspects of fine art photography might be challenging. Artists tend to focus on the creative side of the fine art world and find it difficult to work with the business side.
Here we have a few articles to help you price your fine art, how to sell your images and how to market yourself.
Creating an exhibition is also a great way to show people what you are doing and arouse interest.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you jump head first into this world of fine art. What is it that you are passionate about? What makes you laugh, smile, happy, sad or angry?
These are all emotions, moods and feelings that can be poured into your fine art photography. Your passion will drive you. If its a topic close to your heart, then you will work harder to creating something you are happy with.
What is your story and how are you going to show it? You have a blank slate, and starting is the hardest part. Experiment to find your style, and then practise and expand.
Now that you have created some fine art photographs, how will you know how you price them? One way is to look at what your competitors are selling and how much for.
Looking at ETSY, you can see many photographers and their work, which will be of similar sizes to your own prints. This will give you a competitive price, but it might not be realistic.
Another way is to look at the amount of time it took you to photograph that image. Incorporating the planning, travel and editing time, not only the time it took to photograph the image will give you a number of hours.
Decide how much you want to be paid per hour and you will have a price. Have a look at our article for a more in-depth idea of how to price your work.
In the act of selling your fine art photography, online marketing plays an integral part. Without some kind of online presence, how will people learn about you and see your work?
If you don’t have something online, such as a website or selling platform, you don’t exist.
One of the most important things to consider is to sell quality, not quantity. Focus your attention on a few pieces, not spread out over many. Do not sell yourself short and make sure you raise your prices regularly.
Selling your fine art photography is what you have been working towards. This might be so that you can continue to pay for your hobby or make a living from it to follow this field as a profession.
It can be the most difficult thing to do as there are many fine art photographs online. Sites such as ETSY will sell your fine art photography through an easy to use system.
Stock photography websites might also sell your work. Sites such as Getty Images and Corbis are helpful.
It is also possible to sell images to private collectors. Selling to the public through exhibitions and photo galleries are also a great idea.
This article gives you ten tips from a collector on how to meet and sell your work. First and foremost, you need to have talent.
Work on your photographic style until you get a final polished result, which you can then show collectors.
Make sure you are ready. Have a website, a printed portfolio and business cards. They are no use at home. Be clear about your work and vision. Make sure you can talk about what it is , not where it comes from.
Above all, be patient and don’t become discouraged.
Having your own exhibition is exhilarating. But it is time-consuming and expensive. The best way to start would be to join a group exhibition. A quick search on the internet or social media will give you many choices.
The first thing you need to decide on, is it to sell your work or promote? Knowing your audience will help determine which images to include. If you have a great body of work and are already established, a gallery might host a solo exhibition for you.
If you can’t get a solo exhibition, or even a gallery, have no fear. Pop-up exhibitions happen all over the place. Read this article for ten tips to help you get started.
This clever trick can turn a landscape or cityscape image into a wrap-around photograph.
You will need Adobe Photoshop to be able to cut the image, and rotate the sides to fill in the left and right areas of the image.
This technique creates something very interesting. This could easily be artwork on the walls of prospective buyers. It is a new and fresh way to see an overly used image in a different way
Casey Cosley – 500px.com/caseycosley
Post processing images is very important when it comes to fine art photography. It may require blending together multiple images to boost a landscape into something surreal.
You may need programs such as Adobe Photoshop to cut out and layer subjects onto different backgrounds.
This article shows you steps you can take to create that fine art look to your photographs.
Peter Stewart – peterstewartphotography.com
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