Art is inherently subjective. Its definition varies depending on who you ask. What appears to be art to one person may be rubbish to another. Fine art photography, after street photography, is the most contentious word. What is the definition of fine art photography?
There is a lot of discussion concerning its definition on the internet. All of this might make getting started in fine art photography seem difficult, which is why this article will walk you through all you need to know, from best practices to avoiding cliches.
What Is Fine Art Photography?
The photographer’s vision is the most significant part of fine art photography. It’s not about reality or what’s happening in front of the camera. It’s all about the message or emotion the photographer wants the viewer to experience when they see the image.
At times, fine art photography can be a far cry from reality. While performing fine art photography, you may still take realistic documentary style photographs.
Let’s get started with a few pointers and ideas to help you get started with fine art photography.
1. Develop a unified body of work:
A body of work is a series of photos that are connected in some way. It might be a similar subject or activity, or even a different processing method. Sometimes a single shot isn’t enough to portray a photographer’s true sentiments or vision.
For example, I produced Bustle, a modest body of art. I gathered many photographs that represented individuals going about their daily lives, rushing to their destinations.
Some of the collection’s photos are shown above. Take note of how the people’s legs are moving in each image. This is the one characteristic that all photographs have in common, coupled with the identical processing approach. That is how they are linked.
Collect at least 5-10 photographs that are closely connected to each other in some way that the viewer can easily recognize for a quality body of work.
2. Don’t just shoot in black and white only:
I know that when I think of fine art photography, the first thing that comes to mind is black and white. I’ve included a list of fine art photography clichés later in this essay, but since monochrome is the worst of them all, I’ll go over it in depth here.
Black and white photography makes up the majority of professional fine art photography. But that’s only because black-and-white photography removes distractions and allows you to focus more on the photograph’s message.
However, you may create the same effect with less chaotic and cleaner compositions. Take a look at these two photographs from my Standing Tall project. Both of these photographs were taken in completely different environments, one in an urban setting and the other in a rural one.
The colour versions are significantly better and more forceful than the black and white counterparts due to the simple compositions.
It’s the idea that counts. Only convert your photographs to monochrome if it provides significant value.
3. Alter Reality Using Shutter Speed:
You can use a variety of ways to emphasise your message because fine art photography is about the artist’s vision. This could be a particular post-production technique used in camera trickery or composition.
In the image above, I wanted to emphasise the ocean’s lonely yet forceful aspect. A rapid shutter speed, such as 1/200 of a second, might stop the action. It may add a sense of tranquilly if it is too slow.
I chose 1/15th of a second because it adds just the proper amount of motion. You can use this technique to change the settings and give them a specific meaning by moving people, cars, and other objects. Try to depict something that our eyes aren’t accustomed to seeing in real life.
4. Use One Subject for an Entire Project:
If you like, you can use a single subject for your entire body of work or a small project. It’s a wonderful place to start for a beginner’s fine art photography project.
It is simple to plan and carry out. The outcomes are more predictable. You’ll also learn the fundamentals while concentrating on only one subject.
To begin your first project, you can choose any activity, location, or topic.
5. Follow the Work of Famous Fine Art Photographers:
I realise this is a no-brainer. At first, I despised it as well. But that is the reality with which we must all contend.
Fine art photography is a difficult specialty to master, and no book, article, or workshop can prepare you for it like studying the works of well-known fine art photographers.
Take, for example, Annie Leibovitz, a well-known fine art portrait photographer. She employs a distinct lighting style, as well as vibrant colours and positions. More photographers whose work you should look into are Josef Sudek and Philip-Lorca Dicorcia.
Choose a fine art photographer you admire and research their portfolio. Examine the relationships between their photos. Look into what makes them unique.
Avoid These Cliches in Fine Art Photography:
I’ve covered the essentials for getting started in fine art photography. However, because fine art is so subjective, it’s critical to clarify cliches as well.
I’m sick of seeing photographs that are ambiguous and illogically labelled as fine art photography. So, here’s a quick rundown of cliches you should be aware of before getting started. Then you should stay away from them.
1. Images that are extremely hazy:
Fine art photography isn’t a puzzle that needs to be solved. If your concept is a little hazy, show a comprehensive body of work so that people can grasp it.
2. Images with a lot of noise and grain:
When you shoot in really low light, noise is inevitable. That’s very understandable.
Adding grain in post to mask a terrible exposure or to make it look like it was shot on film, on the other hand, is not acceptable.
3. Vivid vignettes:
Vignettes are used to draw the viewer’s attention to a certain subject. These are something I enjoy using in fine art and other types of photography. I utilise it as a stylistic decision, and I strongly advise you to do so as well.
However, don’t use a heavy vignette to make the image appear to be taken on film. Or to conceal a poor composition.
What is fine art photography, exactly? Fine art photography goes beyond what is visible to the naked eye. It is a very personal portrayal of a scenario by an artist that may differ significantly from fact.
The goal of fine art photography is to communicate a specific sentiment or statement through your image. The camera is merely a tool.
You go to any length to get your message across. Whether in-camera or post-processing methods are required. Presenting your photographs as a whole body of work with an artist statement is not only professional, but it also clearly communicates your message.
Do you need a bachelor’s degree in fine arts to do that? No, in my opinion. Understanding the history of fine art photography and how it has progressed is beneficial. However, it is not required.
The most essential thing is to train your vision and use your imagination to create something extraordinary out of mundane events.