Fine art photography is a funny thing in this present time, since everyone has access to a camera. I think what made photography fine art before the digital era was access to equipment and the time it took to learn it. But fine art photography is much more than that. It’s about taste, aesthetic and an understanding how to construct a stand out picture.
Access to camera equipment is no longer an issue. You can get a decent camera at very affordable prices. Used cameras work well too, and hobbyists are often selling them cheap, just to get rid of them. Also, I have seen incredible photos made with phones, so anything is possible.
Since having access to camera no longer makes you a fine art photographer, what does? Your imagination is the most important element with a passion for a particular subject, but understanding technique is also crucial. Also, the art of photography is developing every day and the art form now includes the manipulation of photographs. Photoshop has changed the game in so many ways. Some of those changes are positive and others are negative.
No matter what you use to make photos, the key to fine art photography is creativity. I love a well lit landscape or macro flower, but those images are done too often. So the question I always ask myself is how can I do the subject of nature differently? How can I do it in a way that’s never been seen before? Imagination is the only way photographers can stand out anymore, and I also think you have to have a deep connection with a subject in order for the viewer to relate.
Personally, there are five elements I like to focus on when creating fine art photos. The first is the use of atmosphere in my landscapes.
I live in the foothills of California, and summer is the worst time of year for me. It’s dry, hot and barren. There is no atmosphere happening. No dramatic clouds, no rain, no storms, no water. It’s just hot! Ugh! Sure evenly lit landscapes of beautiful places are always eye-catching, but that’s it. I like the drama of nature, the storms, when nature is in its full glory.
The second creative element I like to add is movement. A blurry flower in the foreground or blurry grass in the background creates the feeling of wind blowing through fields. If you use movement right, not everything in the photo has to be in focus.
The third element is color or the absence of color. Nature is full of brilliant color, using that as the central focus of the photograph can create mood and make photos really stand out. It also creates contrast, which is a key element in creating a successful layered photograph.
Also, the absence of color like black and white is rarely used in fine art nature photography anymore. I think using it in the correct situations can make nature photography stand out against the sea of the sameness. I think black and white photography is a lost art for many photographers.
There’s one more thing that is affecting fine art photography that I’d like to add to my reasons above and that is Photoshop. I use it to create photographs, but it’s very controversial within the photography community. The question that always gets asked is… Is it really photography when you are manipulating with Photoshop?
Purists would say no, but every medium grows. I believe this is just another tool in creating fine art.
For example, Brooke Shaden, is considered a fine art photographer. However, she uses Photoshop extensively to create her pictures. Her photographs are layers upon layers of other photographs she took, pieced together and manipulated to create something unique and original.
So if she’s not a photographer, what is she? An artist? I consider photographers artists. I’m curious if you do too? I feel like this comes down to accessibility again. When everyone has access to a camera, people value the art form less.
But I ask you, how many photos do you see a day of yours or someone else’s that you think are good? The stop you in your tracks kind of good? The pictures that make you stop scrolling and actually look at. My aim is to make those kinds of photos. That’s fine art photography to me!
Last, but not least, fine art and art are more relatable when the artist has a special connection with the subject. I am in love with nature. We live on two acres near lakes and hiking trails. We would love to move to a place like Montana one day for its beauty and a plethora of outside activities. I believe nature has healing powers both mentally and physically. Everyone should experience its awe-inspiring places at least once a week. That is why it’s the subject I mainly focus on in my fine art photos.
If you want to check out my fine art photos check out my gallery page or my Etsy shop. I add fresh stuff all the time! Also, if you join my email list, you get one free downloadable art a month and access to free stock photos. Yay!