Fine Art Photography Tips To Get You To The Next Level

Fine art photography offers the freedom to express yourself in new and creative ways. We explain some ways you can take your fine art photos to new heights.

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The article sourced from Format.


So you’ve tried many different types of photography—but now, maybe, you want to spruce up your portfolio with something new.

If you haven’t already, you might want to try your hand at fine art photography. It’s a great way to get creative and express yourself. You can create some captivating and thought-provoking images that will draw people to your fine art online photography portfolio and show them that you are a true artist.

But whether you’ve never tried it before, or you’re just not sure if your shots are up to snuff yet, we can help. Use our guide to take your fine art photos from so-so to stunning!


What is Fine Art Photography?

It can be tricky to put your finger on a fine art photography definition that everyone will agree with. For instance, there’s often a fine line between commercial photography and photography in fine art. There are also conflicting definitions on how to do fine art photography that make it even harder to nail down what constitutes a fine art photo. But let’s give it a shot.

Artistic Photography Starts With a Vision

One way fine art photography is distinct from commercial or photojournalism is that it’s not always resentational, rather symbolic.

A definition of fine art photography involves bringing a vision, emotion, or a state of mind to life through a photographed image. It involves creating something that previously only lived in your mind, as opposed to simply capturing what you see in an artistic way. It’s a way to express your emotions and the way you see the world—and share it with others.

That means when you’re preparing for a fine art photoshoot, you should already have some sort of concept in mind. Whether that’s a detailed plan or just a vague idea, it’s an important starting point for creating fine art photography.

Fine Art Photography Is About Beauty and Meaning

Another definition is that, as opposed to other forms of photography, fine art is meant to be judged solely for its beauty and meaningfulness—two things that are very subjective. That means it’s unrestricted by practical considerations and it can break the usual rules of photography.

For example, a fine art photo might be completely out of focus. While that would be seen as a technical error in most photography circles, fine art photography is different. It can involve surreal or abstract subjects, creative editing, and breaking composition rules.

The main goal isn’t to demonstrate your technical skills. Instead, it aims to express an idea, an emotion, or a message.

Visual Art Photography Is Created Carefully

One thing’s for sure: fine art photos are not candid snapshots. Every fine art photo involves a lot of planning and tweaking. Between the composition, details, and meaning, these images are created as carefully as paintings.

So, as you can see, it’s a bit complicated. To help you get a better grasp of what fine art photography is, you should check out some examples from these fine art photographer websites.

Next, we’ll cover some fine art photography tips that will help you get started.


Find Some Inspiration

Now that you have a better idea of what fine art photography is, you may be itching to get started. So, what’s your vision? What message or emotion do you want to convey? And how exactly are you going to do that? Those can be difficult questions to answer.

To get the ball rolling, here are some suggestions for finding inspiration.

Clear Your Head

If you’re struggling to come up with fine art photography ideas, it can be useful to take a step back and focus on something else. Get away from your usual surroundings, do something with a friend, go on a trip, watch movies—whatever you like to do that refreshes your mind. Taking your mind off of your creative block and just seeking out experiences can be a great way to spark some inspiration. (Need more ways to unplug? Our guide to self-care for artists has some great ideas.)

Look to Other Photographers

Typically, when it comes to art, it’s a good rule of thumb not to follow others in case you accidentally copy their work too closely. With your fine art photography, you should be striving to create an authentic personal vision. So you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s trendy or let fads drive your art. However, as a learning method, it can be useful to take inspiration from others. If there are famous fine art photographers who you admire, you could follow their style, read books to understand their creative process, or start with a similar subject to get your creative juices going—Just make sure it doesn’t stop you from developing a personal style along the way. Once you’ve found a style or subject that you like, experiment with it and try to take it down different paths. Combine the subject with your own life experiences to make it more personal.


Equipment for Fine Art Photography

The required equipment is another area where fine art photography differs greatly from other genres. That’s because you don’t need much. You could get started with whatever camera you have handy. Some artists enjoy shooting in film, while others prefer the flexibility in post editing when working with a DSLR camera. The medium and creative process is in your hands.

It’s All About How You Use it

Since creativity and artistic vision are more important than the technical aspects of your photos, there’s no need to buy the latest gear.

If you need convincing, just consider the long history of fine art photos taken with basic equipment. In fact, many features on the latest cameras won’t be much help when it comes to fine art photos.

For example, features that are aimed at making it easy to shoot, like autofocusing and auto exposure, can actually take away from a fine art photo. Instead of using those auto settings, you should experiment with the manual settings and see if they can help you achieve your vision.

Get Yourself a Tripod

One piece of gear that you should invest in is a tripod. A tripod can provide more opportunities to get creative. It allows you to do things like shooting with long exposures or creating HDR images. Besides that, it makes things much easier when you are carefully setting up your composition.

Next, we’ll go through some of the different categories of fine art photography, and provide some tips to help you hit the ground running.

Fine Art Portrait Photography Tips

When you’re trying to create fine art, you can throw some of the usual portrait photography guidelines out the window. For example, you don’t need to make the subject’s face visible. Their head could be turned away from the camera or not even included in the frame.

That’s one of the great things about fine art photography: you have complete freedom. But that also means it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some tips and ideas that may spark inspiration for your fine art portrait photography.


Know Your Models

One important tip is to make sure your models are comfortable. Sure, this is true for any type of portrait photography. But it is especially important when it comes to fine art photoshoots. That’s because you are going to need them to work closely with you and perhaps express some vulnerability to bring your vision to life. The photoshoot will take some time and may involve a lot of experimentation.

Instead of their tried and true poses, you may want to ask them to do something unusual. Models who excel at this type of photography tend to also be excellent performers such as dancers or actors, who understand how to embody an emotion on their face and body movements.

So, to make things go smoother, make sure you get to know your models first. If you are first meeting them on the day of the shoot, take the time to have a quick meeting with them before you get started.

Also, if you know some poses that you’d like them to try, consider bringing some visual aids like a moodboard to help them understand what you are looking for.

Keep it Simple

Try shooting your fine art portrait photography against a plain background.

This avoids distractions and puts all of the focus on your subject. It should help you experiment with conveying your message through the subject alone. You’ll be forced to find more interesting perspectives, get the subject to strike a pose, or get creative with things like makeup, costumes, props, or lighting.

Find a Location with Meaning

Alternatively to the idea above, you could put more focus on the location and use it to help convey your message. It could be a spot with interesting architecture, beautiful natural lighting, or a location where your subject looks out of place. Some locations can bring a lot of significance, like how including a church in the background would carry more significance than a non-identifiable building. In this way, a location can help add meaning to your photography art.

Try Some Self-Portraits

If you don’t have models to work with or would just be more comfortable experimenting on your own, consider trying some self-portraits. Besides giving you more control over your fine art portrait photography by doing everything yourself, self-portraits can make a great addition to your online portfolio website.

That’s because they give people a chance to see the artist behind all of those great fine art photos. This can help you forge a connection with your audience and potential buyers.

This list of cool self-portrait ideas can help you get started.


Fine Art Black and White Photography Tips

When looking at examples of fine art photography, you may have noticed that black and white photos are a popular choice. And with good reason!

Black and white photos can be very powerful and dramatic or lend a timeless feel to your work. They put more emphasis on light, contrast, and texture, which may help you convey the emotion or message that you’re going for. Here are a few tips to make your fine art black and white photography the best it can be.

Think in Black and White

As mentioned above, when your photos lack color, there will be more focus on elements such as lighting and contrast. So you’ll need to take that into account when planning your composition. Look for subjects or locations with a mix of bright and dark elements, and play with your exposure settings to bring out more contrast.

Shoot in Color

Rather than shooting in a B&W mode on your camera, you should shoot in full color and convert the image in editing. Shooting in color is a good idea because it gives you more options for adjusting your image in post processing. There are multiple ways of converting to black and white, so handling it in editing lets you experiment, make more tweaks, and find the best method for your image.

If you are having trouble visualizing the scene in black and white, many cameras will let you shoot in RAW and JPEG formats simultaneously. Then you can use a monochrome “picture style” or “film simulation” mode to see how the image will look in black and white while still capturing the full-color information.

Spend Some Time Tweaking

During editing, there are a number of things you can do to adjust the contrast in your black and white images and achieve different moods with your photos. For example, in Photoshop you can use both the “levels” and “curves” adjustments to tweak the tonal balance.

In addition, Adobe Camera Raw offers the ability to adjust the brightness of eight different colors in the HSL/Grayscale tab. This enables you to take any of those colors from completely white to black. It can be used to dramatically change the look of your image or achieve artistic effects.

For some inspiration, visit these fine art photography sites that feature black and white photography.


Fine Art Landscape Photography Tips

Another genre that you can experiment with is fine art landscape photography. Whether it’s a misty mountain, a bright seascape, or a dark forest, landscapes can inherently convey mood and meaning. But you should remember that fine art photography is about interpreting your surroundings as opposed to simply observing and capturing the world representationally.

While you might find the perfect location for a beautiful landscape photo, you shouldn’t stop there. To elevate your work into fine art territory, you should find ways to get creative and add a narrative to your landscape compositions.

Here are some ways to do that.

Create a Narrative

When shooting landscapes, you won’t have as much control to set up the scene as you would with a portrait. So in order to add meaning to your photos, you’ll have to search out things that can help you tell a story.

For example, finding a sapling to use in the foreground contrasted with a dead tree in the background can evoke thoughts of death or rebirth. Shooting a lone flower in a field can help you convey feelings of isolation or resilience. As you can see, there are different stories you can tell using the same elements.

Through your composition, lighting, and editing techniques, you can steer the mood of the photo in the direction you want.

Create an Unnatural Look

Experiment with color during the editing process. For example, try color-correcting to create unnatural tones. Purple skies, yellow grass, red trees—whatever. Seeing natural subjects with unnatural colors can create a captivating otherworldly feeling. This is one way to help make a landscape your own.

Use Negative Space

Negative space is a wonderful tool in landscape photography to focus the viewer’s attention exactly where you want it. While photography students are often told to fill the frame, including negative space can help avoid distractions and make the meaning of your photos more apparent. So don’t be afraid to work with the empty sky, still water, or snow-covered ground.



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