Photography is an extensive concept that includes several genres and styles. Some popular categories include nature photography, food photography, fashion photography, wedding photography, and newborn photography. Aside from these well-recognized styles, there are certain obscure, lesser-known kinds of photography that few people know of. Fine art photography is one such style.
If you’ve heard of this genre or are interested in it, you may have wondered how to get started in fine art photography. In this article, you’ll learn about what this style of photography is and discover some tips that can help you begin your journey in capturing fine art photographs.
What Is Fine Art Photography?
Even seasoned fine art photographers will agree that this is a tough question to answer. So, to delve into what this style of photography is, let’s first try to understand what it is not. Fine art photography, also known as artistic photography, isn’t the same as commercial photography or photojournalism. What sets fine art photography apart is that it is not merely about recording a subject digitally.
Using a camera to capture and document what appears before the photographer precisely is generally considered as photojournalism. That branch of photography requires purist and accurate images that record a scene exactly as it was at the precise moment it was captured.
On the other hand, artistic photography is primarily about the artist’s vision. It is less about capturing what’s in front of the camera, and more about capturing what the artist sees. It doesn’t focus on documenting the subject presented before the camera’s lens. Instead, this branch of photography uses the camera as a tool to reveal the artist’s vision and to make a statement based on that perspective.
In other words, fine art photography is a more personal genre that almost always projects a mood through the photograph and evokes emotions and feelings through the theme presented. It says more about the photographer and the manner in which they view the subject than it says about the image itself.
History of Fine Art Photography
The origin of artistic photography can be traced back to the period when photography was first becoming popular. In those years, photographers weren’t recognized as artists, and photography itself wasn’t considered as an art. It didn’t help that photography had multiple applications and was employed in diverse areas, making artists more skeptical of considering photography as an art form.
Moreover, photography was diverse and ranged from scientific photography to commercial photography, making it popular and facilitating the mass distribution of digital cameras. These factors made it increasingly challenging to consider the craft as a medium of its own in the art world.
Eventually, as more photographers voiced their opinions and strived for their right to have their photographs taken as seriously as painting were, the concept of artistic photography was born. The Victorian era saw photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron in the UK and Alfred Stieglitz in the US become pioneers in the field of art photography.
How to Get Started in Fine Art Photography
Since the lines that define artistic photography are quite blurry, breaking into the field of fine art photography can be a challenge. If you’re a beginner keen on pursuing artistic photography as a career or as an interest, the following tips can help you get started on your journey.
Focus on the Art
The core of fine art photography is to focus more on the art and less on the commercial aspects. It can be tempting to get carried away by how well your prints are selling, or to be sidetracked in the course of developing your client base. However, to break into artistic photography and to make a name for yourself, the important thing to do is to focus on the art and to let your images do the talking for you.
Develop New Ways of Seeing
In the course of creating artistic photographs, you’ll find that you may often get into a visual rut. What this means is that you may have difficulty finding fresh perspectives. Looking at the subject in the same manner time and again may result in the same kind of photographs. This defeats the entire purpose of artistic photography, which is all about refreshing your perspectives, re-imagining your craft, and developing new ways of looking at ordinary things.
Study the Work of Experts
If you ever find yourself in a creative rut, the best thing to do to work around it is to take a look at the works of expert fine art photographers who have established a name for themselves in this field. This is also helpful if you’re looking for a way to get started in fine art photography, because understanding the work of established photographers can give you an idea about the kind of images that work well. It also helps you develop your own craft.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Much like other forms of art such as sketching, painting, music, and sculpting, practice is the surest way of honing your skills. You get better as you practice more, and it helps you identify your flaws and correct them well before they’re laid out for the world to see and judge. So, if you’re interested in getting into fine art photography, the first thing you need to do is practice the craft. Take up everyday challenges and compile all your images to track your progress.
Pay Attention to the Composition
Composition is one of the key elements of fine art photography. As the photographer, you need to pay careful attention to the focus, the quality of the lighting, and the poses of the figures in the photograph. Other factors that determine how the image is composed include what you do during the editing process where you must choose a few shots from among hundreds of photos to promote as art. The end goal is to find a few perfect photographs where all the elements come together to create something exclusive.
Marketing Your Work
Marketing plays an important role in your growth as a fine art photographer. Many gifted photographers remain virtually unknown for a greater part of their careers simply because they didn’t use the right marketing techniques. To help you avoid this mistake, here are some tips that can coach you on how to market your work effectively.
Create a Brand
One of the first steps you need to take to get closer to your dream of becoming a recognized fine art photographer is to establish a brand for your work. It’s more than simply creating a logo or using a watermark on your images. Your brand needs to be a cohesive banner that brings together all your publicity platforms, such as your website, your business cards, and your social networks. It needs to remain consistent across all the professional settings you present yourself in.
Develop a Portfolio
When it comes to fine art photography, a portfolio is one of the most essential marketing tools. It can make or break your image, particularly if you’re just starting out. Unlike other forms of photography, artistic imagery is best brought out in the prints. Irrespective of how convincing you may sound, it’s your photographs that do the talking. So, put together a portfolio of images that only reflect your best work, even if it means limiting the number of photos added.
Understand Your Market
Getting to know your target audience is important if you are interested in marketing your work efficiently. Establish a distinct personal style that remains clear and consistent across projects and identify your target audience. Many audiences, such as art galleries and collectors, tend to have clear preferences that help you identify the people who are likely to be interested in the kind of art you create. Approach these segments of your market and negotiate a deal for your work.
Make Use of Social Media
Social media platforms are powerful networks that can help you publicize your work efficiently. Unlike one-on-one meetings with representatives of select segments of your audience, social media networks help you reach out to a multitude of people with little effort on your part. So, tap into this resource and create authentic social media accounts that are linked to your brand. Promote your best work on these platforms and watch your business grow from strength to strength.
Adopt a Hands-On Approach
Even with social media working in your favor, it helps if you take matters into your own hands. One way to do this is to approach art galleries that are likely to showcase your work. In recent times, several museums and galleries are opening up to the possibility of exhibiting the work of artists who are starting out in fine art photography. You could even hold your own art opening by renting out a space.
If you’re just starting out and are keen on making a name for yourself in fine art photography, the thing to remember is that the goal of this art form isn’t to become a part of a magazine layout or to find its way into a scrapbook. The purpose of fine art photography is to create images that are worthy of being exhibited in art galleries, or of being displayed in the homes of the people who understand this kind of art. More often than not, fine art photographs are blown up to an enormous size to make it possible to identify the details and to appreciate the quality of the images. When done right, fine art photographs stand the test of time and are remembered for decades or even centuries.