Art photography largely depends on conveying the concept and vision of the artist; But what are the points and criteria behind any attractive or successful art photo? In this article, these points are mentioned.
By learning photography techniques such as lighting, color, etc., you only learn how to work with the camera and photography techniques; But to create works of art and photographs, you must be familiar with the criteria and principles of aesthetics in art, especially in photography. Knowing these criteria is essential to achieving a unique style in photography and distinguishing the works from other photographers.
Today, with the proliferation of digital cameras and the access of many people to a variety of cameras, photography has become commonplace. Anyone with a camera or smartphone can be a photographer, and professional or artistic photography has many fans. You can work in both professional and artistic photography; But to create works of art, one must first become familiar with the definition of artistic photography and artistic aesthetics.
What is Art Photography?
Some photographers define art photography simply as a collection of images that can be displayed in galleries. This definition may seem straightforward; But it is not a comprehensive definition of art photography or even art photography. In addition, there are numerous examples of photography, such as news photography, that are displayed in galleries.
The only feature that distinguishes a photo or art photography from other genres of photography is the concept or message of the photo. A work of art is a way to convey the feelings of an artist. The selection of elements and the way of composition help to convey the message of the artist. A photo message can be a word or a feeling or even just an idea. In this way, art photography can be used to influence the audience and even change their attitude and behavior.
Famous art photographers usually spend a lot of time planning and composing photos. Art photography is not like photojournalism or news photography.
Compositions in art photography are carefully and deliberately made and have all the elements of prior planning.
In art photography, photography is often not enough to convey the general concept; For this reason, the photographer uses a narrative method to convey his intended message. The collection of these images together form the artist’s statement. The artist statement is a simple paragraph of text that states the overall purpose of the project and provides the audience with a vision.
Like many art forms, sometimes the audience does not receive the message intended by the artist. This is natural and can be part of the creative process. Artists accept feedback; Because people are part of the process of creating them. Feedback helps to improve the work of artists. Before getting acquainted with the methods and ideas in art photography, it is necessary to get acquainted with aesthetics in art and its criteria, especially in art photography.
What is aesthetics in photography?
Simply put, aesthetics in photography means the pleasant appearance of a photograph; But aesthetics has a much broader definition. The beautiful photo surprises the audience and arouses their emotions. At this moment, the mind does not see only the images; Rather, he stops and is surprised.
Everyone has a different definition of beauty. According to a popular saying, beauty is in the eyes of the viewer. People usually analyze images and beauty criteria according to their own standards. Aesthetics often depend on the quality of the image and do not exist only in photography; It can also be seen in human daily life: architecture, food, fashion, nature, gardening, cars, and so on. Man remains without effort to achieve beauty in prehistoric times and does not set any standards.
Everyone wants to look good and dress well or prepare their food in an appetizing way. This view may not be pleasant; But even in job interviews, participants are expected to dress in a certain way; But why do people need to create works of art, including art photography? Man has always sought to create creative works. There are several explanations for this question. One of the reasons for creating works of art is to communicate and convey emotions and create beauty. Achieving an aesthetically pleasing result is the goal of the artwork.
The difference between style and aesthetics
Finding style and developing it is one of the most important parts of any photographer’s life and career; But style and aesthetics are two different concepts. In general, style means the method of photography. The photography method includes photography settings, equipment, etc .; But aesthetics goes a little beyond style. Take a look at your image gallery. If you see color patterns, compositions, subjects and specific items that are similar to each other, it means that you have observed aesthetics.
Some photographers are known for their fantasy themes or nostalgic photos, while others care about the subject. If you can only guess the photographer’s name from the photo, you can give a unique title to the artist’s works. Also, if your images are impressive and impressive to the audience, it means that you have an aesthetic point of view.
Stages and basics of art photography
To achieve unique style and aesthetics in art photography, you need to pay attention to the following points:
- Artists’ perspective: Before creating a work of art, the artist must get an overview of the appearance of your work.
- Idea: The most important element of art photography is the idea or message or feeling. The idea is the concept that the artist conveys to the audience through his works. The idea or message of the work can be as small as words, like leaving, or as a complete statement, such as examining the effect of the moon on the tides. The statement or idea is the beginning of the work and is like a research hypothesis.
- Technique: The work you create reflects your insights and ideas; So that when you put all the works together, they have similarities with each other. To achieve these similarities, most artists use the same medium or technique for their ideas.
- General format of work: In the end, it is your format that shows ideas, subjects and techniques. If you display your images in the gallery, there is a certain integration in them.
- Artist Statement: You need a statement to display your artwork. The statement is a brief description of the subject of the work and the reason for the creation of the works.
As you enter the galleries, you may be wondering what the exhibits are about or what they are about.
This is where the art statement comes in. The artist’s statement provides an overview of the artist’s intentions and the reason for creating the works and how they were created. According to the above points, to create works of art and images, you must follow the steps below.
Brainstorming is one of the best ways to get an idea. First and foremost, review the following questions before writing ideas:
- What topics are you interested in?
- What message are you looking to convey?
- And What subjects would you like to photograph?
- So What techniques are you interested in?
Whatever comes to mind, just write and do not pay too much attention to the writings. Words may not be related at first; But the further you go, the more you can connect with them. When you’re done, you get to the basics of brainstorming.
Select a topic
The subject can be anything; The complexity of political or social issues. Whatever your idea, you should try to find a connection with yourself and your surroundings. For example, on a topic such as consumerism, you can look at the environmental or incidental effects that occur on goods.
Find subjects for pictures
About the subject of consumerism You have to see how important the subject is. For example, do you look at different brands from the bin or directly and choose different products as the subject.
Work on the technique
The technique chosen does not matter; But if you choose a technique, you have to use it for all images. Images should be technically similar to create a coherent resume and portfolio.
Making work templates
If you are looking to set up an exhibition, you need to carefully select the images and delete some images. This step is a bit difficult; However, not all images are suitable for your exhibition and may damage the integrity of the works.
Finally, you need a statement. A linguistic statement or artistic speech corresponds to the world of art. If you are looking for an exhibition, your artistic statement is just as important as your work. The following is an example of an artistic statement on leaving:
It is human nature to transform the environment into pleasant shapes and forms. We live and work in these buildings and find our entertainment and food in them. We spend a lot of time in rooms designed to help us at different stages of life. Failure to protect buildings leads to their rapid destruction. My collection of works is about the speed of this destruction and their similarity to human conditions. Man, too, is dragged into the abyss of destruction by taking care of himself and not taking care of himself. I seek to discover the metaphor of human resemblance to dilapidated buildings by presenting images of abandoned and old buildings.
The statement is a summary of the artist’s statement. Do a Google search to find the right resources for writing an art statement. You will also find examples of other artists’ statements that point to their artistic creation path.
An old room in an abandoned school. Objects are scattered and disordered.
Technical points of aesthetics and art photography
Once you know the steps to come up with an idea and the artistic statement and technique you choose, you need to learn the skills of working with the camera, editing and composition that help to create aesthetic works.
You may use saturated, high-density, light, dark colors for photography. You may also prefer black and white photography. However, color plays an important role in the aesthetics of the photo and induces different feelings and emotions. For example, red is one of the most powerful colors and often conveys a sense of calm in contrast to blue tones.
Color-related emotions also change depending on the audience. Colors have different meanings for people in different parts of the world. The mental and intellectual state of the audience also affects his view of colors.
Take red, for example. People usually consider this color the color of love and affection; But seeing red in horror movies evokes a scene of blood or danger; Therefore, different interpretations of color depend on the perspective of the audience.
Cultural influences will also have a far-reaching effect on color interpretations.
For example, in some cultures red is interpreted as the color of danger and in some other cultures the color of happiness and energy. Due to different variables, color has a special place in the aesthetics of photography.
There are extensive color relationships based on nature. Blue is the color of water, green is the color of grass and leaves of trees, red is the color of fire and yellow is the color of the sun. The colors you use and how you use the colors can change the mood of the photo and the message and aesthetics of the photo.
The subject can have a significant impact on the aesthetics of the images. It is also the focal point of the image and often catches the eye of the audience. For example, you may choose landscape photography and want to photograph the beauty of nature.
Streets are a great source of inspiration. The aesthetic elements of a street landscape can be more than just a landscape: chaos and urban clutter create another kind of beauty that involves human interactions and, in general, a subject called people.
People are the favorite subject of many photographers; Because they are always changing and often unpredictable. The aesthetics of the image with the popular subject also depends on the type of subjects.
For example, is the person old or young? Does the picture show people’s daily lives or professional models? Are the subjects friends or family? These choices affect how visual quality is developed.
Wildlife is another subject that integrates the quality of life of people and nature. Capturing the movement of a moving animal in its natural habitat can be a spectacular image.
Abstract subjects can also create a unique aesthetic feature in photography. Abstract subjects allow you to experience and shine artistically.
All visual elements of photography point to contrast and similarity. Contradiction is the difference between darkness and light, and the similarity is that there is no difference between the two. Changing the contrast or contrast in photography creates shapes and differentiates objects and people. Contrast and similarity greatly affect the subject and shadows of the image.
High-contrast images usually evoke stronger emotional feedback than low-contrast images; Therefore, high contrast is equivalent to a visually impressive image.
If you want to create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere in your image, you can use similarity and harmony to convey this feeling. You can use a lot of contrast to create more emotional images.
The appearance of the subject will change dramatically against different directions of light. Shadows, brightness, and form change with the direction of the light. You can do lighting in three main directions:
Facing lighting: In this case, the light source is directly in front of the subject. With face lighting, you can create visual complexity. However, this angle is often not used in photography; Because it minimizes the form and gives a flat look to the subject.
Side lighting: In this case, the light source is located next to or next to the subject. This lighting mode is a popular choice for many photographers. Side lighting is the best way to improve image depth. The lighting of the subject from the side causes gradual changes of shadows and lights and gives a three-dimensional appearance.
Backlight : In this case, the light source is located just behind the subject. Backlighting creates a silhouette effect and is a bit more difficult compared to the other two types. For this type of lighting, you need to know the exposure of the image.
In an example of backlighting, the subject is facing the sun. The result of this type of lighting is impressive; But changes in sunlight are one of the problems in achieving the ideal moment. Light changes are one of the most effective ways to learn and realize the importance of lighting in the aesthetics of images. Slight changes in the angle of light and clear shadows can make a significant difference in the audience’s view of the image.
Interesting visual effects can be achieved by using exposure or optimal exposure for composition. A low-light image creates a dramatic visual beauty. High-exposure images can create a lot of light in the composition and give it a surreal look. If the high exposure mode is well combined, it will have a dramatic effect. Extra light can make many elements in the image visible and create impressive and pleasant effects for the audience.
Image properties depend on the amount of elements in focus and out of focus. In-focus points usually show more detail and, at first glance, capture the audience’s attention; As a result, photographers often focus on their main subjects. In contrast, out-of-focus areas in the background attract little attention.
This option is suitable for elements that you want to deliberately hide from view; For this reason, choosing the type of subject and its location in focus significantly affects the aesthetics of the image. Therefore, you need to focus more on the elements that you want to emphasize more and put the unwanted elements in a state of blur and out of focus.
Through the texture of the image, the audience can experience the subject’s sense of touch: smooth, furry, rough or sharp? These textures are just a few examples of photo textures. Texture is one of the tools to create depth in photography. The textured subject instills a greater sense of closeness to the audience. The audience is usually more attracted to textured objects. You can add texture to images in a variety of ways.
The easiest way is to choose subjects that have a lot of texture details. You can change the texture with focus settings. In-focus objects usually have more texture than out-of-focus objects.
Finally, you can change the amount of image texture in the final image processing process. To do this, use editing tools such as resolution change or contrast sliders.
Remember that texture photography is highly dependent on light quality. You need enough light to emphasize the textures inside the image. It is almost impossible to display the texture in low light environment.
The angle of light also plays an important role in creating texture.
Lights that shine from the side or top show more detail and texture. Emphasizing the textures in the composition is one of the great ways to change the contrast of the image.
Symmetry and balance
By placing the subjects in the center of the frame, the image becomes symmetrical. Symmetry does not move the audience’s eye in the image; Rather, it draws attention to the center of the image. In contrast, by placing subjects off-center, you can add movement to your images. Lack of symmetry indicates life and movement and causes the audience to communicate with the image. Life is not perfect, and so it is with photography.
You can see the value of asymmetry in the aesthetics of photography in the rules of composition and the golden rules, which we have mentioned in the next section. Of course, this does not mean that you should avoid symmetry altogether; But in general, asymmetric templates create better composition. When using asymmetry, try to pay attention to balance. Balance is one of the main components in optimal composition.
The final editing of the image can change the quality, mode and aesthetics of the images. This is especially true when shooting in RAW format. You can apply a set of changes to editing platforms such as Photoshop and Lightroom. Settings such as Color Balance, Contrast, Saturation and Sharpness are just a few examples of customizable settings in editing software.
In the final editing step, you can make changes that are usually naturally impossible. Edit the image and make it dark and mysterious, or change the color image to black and white and interpret the beauty in a different way by applying changes.
Composition and aesthetics
In order to achieve a desirable and pleasant image, one must observe the points in terms of composition. In the following, we will introduce these points.
Guidelines help the observer to narrate the image and draw attention to the subject or to establish a relationship between two or more subjects in aesthetic images. You can use buildings and structures, trees or the horizon line as your image guide lines.
Use of triangles
The triangles in the aesthetic images provide guidance for the observer along three guidelines that connect the three points in question. You can use similarly proportioned triangles to create balance and strong or strong sensory induction, and find them in your surroundings. When buildings and perspectives are used, triangles are easily seen in street photography.
Use the one-third rule
The one-third rule can dramatically improve composition. The one-third rule consists of two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. You can use the intersection of these lines to place important subjects and details to give the photo a nice look. You can also use the one-third rule for the location of portraits or the horizon when shooting a landscape.
Using the golden ratio, you can create more complex combinations. The golden ratio can be easily applied to images; But there are mathematical equations for it. The golden ratio, also known as the Fibonacci spiral, was named in honor of Leonard Fibonacci and operates on the Fibonacci series.
The law of individuals
Using the number of subjects is more attractive to the audience; Because a more natural composition of them can be obtained. Observers usually see three, five, or seven subjects as a group rather than individually. You can use the number of people to place the subjects in the image and consider a negative space. Increase your focus on some elements by placing the individual number of elements in the frame so that they are in the foreground.
Principles of Gestalt theory
In psychology, Gestalt theory is used to understand the function of the human brain. You can also use this theory in photography to improve areas such as image framing and storytelling. You can often see the principles of Gestalt in strong images. Some of the principles of Gestalt are: proximity, separation and closure. All of these principles emphasize the importance of subject placement. Based on these principles, the brain can analyze subjects. For example, consider the principle of proximity.
According to this principle, the subjects are close to each other and thus convey a familiar state. You can use this principle to emphasize the relationship between two or more models in your image.
Portrait art photography
You can delete some elements when creating a work of art. For example, the subject’s face does not have to be clear; It can be behind the camera. One of the highlights of artistic photography is complete freedom; But the question may be, where exactly should you start? Here are some tips to improve your creativity in art photography:
Know your model: One of the important points is to ensure the comfort of the subject or model. This is definitely true for portrait photography; But it is better to consider it in recording other genres of artistic photography. Photography can take a long time and involve many experiments; As a result, try to get to know your model well before you start. If you are seeing your model for the first time on the day of the photo shoot, try to talk to her before you start. Also, you can help your model in some cooks.
Keep it simple: Try to use simple backgrounds in art photography. In this way, you avoid distraction and all the focus is on the subject. Also, you can convey your message through the subject alone. This way, you can find simple perspectives and instead use more creative dishes, makeup, clothes or lighting for your subject.
Finding a meaningful location : In contrast to the above idea, you can focus as much as possible on the shooting position and use it to convey the message. This location can be attractive architecture or beautiful natural lighting. Some places, such as the church building in the background, can make more sense.
Try self-portrait or self-portrait: If you do not have a model, you can try self-portrait or self-portrait. This will give you more control over art photography. In this style, the audience can also see the creator of the work and communication is established between the audience and the artist.
Black and white art photography
Black and white images are one of the fascinating parts of art photography. The Black and white images can be very powerful and dramatic and convey a sense of timelessness to the audience. In these images, more emphasis is placed on light, contrast, and texture, thus conveying your feelings or message well. In the following, we will provide tips for improving black and white art photography.
Think Black and White: As we said, when shooting black and white, the greatest emphasis is on elements such as light and contrast; Consequently, these elements must be taken into account when designing the composition. Look for subjects or situations with a combination of dark and light elements and play with exposure and contrast to add contrast to the image.
Shoot in color: Instead of shooting in B&W mode (black and white), you should capture your images in full color and convert them to black and white during the editing process. This way you will have more freedom of action. There are several ways to convert a color photo to black and white. If you have trouble imagining a scene in black and white, many cameras have the ability to shoot simultaneously in RAW and JPEG formats. Then, you can see the Picture Style or Film Simulation to see the appearance of black and white images, and at the same time, preserve the color information.
Take time to adjust: During editing, you can change various settings to adjust the contrast of black and white images and achieve different modes in your images. For example, in Photoshop you can use the Levels and Curves settings to adjust the color balance. In addition, the Adobe Camera Raw feature allows you to change the brightness of eight different colors in the HSL / Grayscale tab.
Landscape art photography
Landscape art can be a hazy mountain image or a bright view of the sea or a dark forest. In any case, landscapes can convey meaning well; But you have to remember that landscape art photography means interpreting the surroundings, not just observing landscapes. Finding a perfect or beautiful landscape is not enough for this style of photography; Instead, you should follow the tips to improve art photography in this genre and learn creative ways to create different combinations of landscapes. In the following, we will mention some of these methods:
Add meaning: When shooting landscapes, you do not have much control over the setting of the landscape; So to add meaning to your images, you need to search and look for storytelling tips. For example, finding a tree to use in the background that contrasts with a dead tree in the background can evoke a sense of death or rebirth. Photographing a flower in only one context can help convey a sense of isolation or vitality. As you can see, you can tell different stories with the same elements. Also, you can steer the image in the desired direction through composition and lighting and editing methods.
Create an unnatural look: Experiment with different colors on your work during the final editing process. For example, use color correction to create abnormal tones; Create purple skies, yellow grass, red trees or whatever. Seeing natural subjects with unnatural colors can increase the attractiveness of the photo for the audience.
Use of negative space: Negative space is a great tool in landscape photography to draw the audience’s attention to the desired location. By considering the negative space, deviations can be avoided and the meaning of the photo can be shown more clearly. As a result, do not be afraid of empty skies or stagnant water or snow-covered ground.
Share images and engage the audience
After creating works of art, you naturally have to exhibit your works or even earn money from them. There are several ways to share artwork and provide feedback, which we will discuss below. There are two ways to display works: navigate to galleries and display works online.
Navigate to galleries
You can display your works in galleries to display prints. Viewing in reputable galleries makes your resume more productive and a great way to get feedback from the art community and activists. By displaying your work in galleries, you can showcase and even sell your talent. To do this, you need to know the following:
Participate in the Local Arts Association: At the opening of the exhibitions and galleries around you, try to participate as actively as possible. Introduce yourself to gallery owners, curators and artists. In addition, pay attention to the type of work you see in the exhibitions; Because sometimes curators and galleries choose a particular point of view or theme to display. Also, check out art sales events. These events can be a great way to gain experience in pricing and improving your artwork.
Connect with other artists: Try to connect with other artists. You can find artists on social networks such as Facebook groups or the Local Arts Association. After connecting with other artists, try to collaborate with them. The collaboration of two artists is a win-win scenario.
Participate in art competitions: Winning art competitions and contests can help you gain recognition. Competition organizers usually present the winners well; In this way, a wider range of audiences become acquainted with the artist.
Portfolio Building : Building a portfolio is an important step in accepting artwork in galleries. The organizers decide to hold the exhibition after seeing the portfolio and portfolios.
View works of art online
You can also create an online photography portfolio after preparing a collection of artwork. Your portfolio acts like a personal art gallery where you can display your best work.
- Choosing the right platform: You can create an online portfolio by building a website and placing works on a personal website or blog. If you are unsure about the appearance of your website, you can get inspiration from the website of other famous photographers.
- Social Networks: Social networks such as Instagram and other specialized photography networks such as Flickr provide photographers with the opportunity to share their work and receive audience feedback.
Common Mistakes in Art Photography
Sometimes you need to avoid some mistakes to make your work better. Some mistakes are so detailed that you do not notice or do not know where the problem is. In the following, we will point out some common mistakes in art photography.
Ignoring Technical Quality: Although art photography is largely about ignoring the rules and listening to the voice of the heart, technical skill in photography should not be overlooked as a means of conveying emotion. Art photography requires a lot of expertise. For example, points such as proper focus, lighting or exposure, and composition are important. By gaining skills in these areas, you can use them as a form of communication to convey your message.
Confusing Technical Quality with Art: Although technical quality is essential for artistic photography, photographs that are technically flawless are not necessarily artistic. Art photography revolves around message and concept. Adherence to technical issues does not necessarily cover artistic and compositional elements.
Following a large number of rules: Novice photographers try to learn all the rules. Rules such as the one-third rule, the golden ratio, etc. can create a beautiful artistic image; But following a lot of rules, like all other photographers, may make the images look alike. If you want your art to be unique, try breaking some rules.
Strive to create beautiful images: Almost all commercial photography revolves around beautiful and pleasing images; As a result, many photographers use the same filter to understand the beauty of images. However, sometimes the message you want to convey is in stark contrast to aesthetic standards. Sometimes dirt or dust conveys the message better. Art does not have to be beautiful; But it can be impressive and shocking.
Do not use abstraction: Abstraction in art photography means removing unnecessary elements and reducing them to essentials. In this way, the viewer communicates with the image at a fundamental level. Abstraction can be applied to the images in the composition or even final editing stage. In any case, abstraction is an integral part of conveying the right image message.
Defining art is a difficult task. The same is true for art photography. There are many styles of photography around the world; But the common denominator of all artistic photographs is the transmission of the message. The key to understanding artistic photography is understanding the visualization of the message and the concept.
Does the photographer speak through his art or does the photograph have a purely commercial purpose? How to perceive the effectiveness of this equation.
The artist must refer to himself. Take pictures of interests or yourself and do not worry about other people’s thinking. By knowing the subject and the perspective and the method of creating the work, you can easily produce your artistic statement and be in a new direction.
If you are just looking to create lovable works that are beautiful in the eyes of others, you may not be able to reach the level of art photography. However, if you have a comment or message, you can convey your ideas through a photo.