Fine Arts seems to be an area that few photographers have broken the barrier into. Being able to come up with an idea that sends a specific message while also portraying the artists’ vision in a uniformed way seems to be a challenge. How can you use photography to send such a message? Fine art photography may be harder to differentiate from other photography niches but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
How to Become a Fine Art Photographer
1. Come up with a unique idea
When deciding on an idea, consider all the things that you are passionate about. What message would you have to say about those things? How would you use your photography to put your statement into a visual form or what subject matter would you shoot? What techniques do you love using or have been interested in trying? Asking a lot of questions at first will help you make sense of what your idea is.
2. Choosing a topic
Topics can range from controversial and political to consumerism and the effects social media has on our lives. Make a list of general topics and then from these ideas dig deeper into what you would really like to shine a light on. This step can be a struggle but focus on the connections you see from everything you have already writing.
3. Your subject matter
You might be considering a few ideas and topics but what exactly are your images going to be focused on? The subject matter you choose for your work should make a connection with your topic and idea. You want your subject matter to be something you will enjoy shooting but also one that will allow you to creatively capture your idea.
4. Deciding on a technique
You don’t have to spend too much time thinking deeply on this step. If you have been photographing for a while there is a good chance you have already developed a technique your own. With fine art photography, however, you want your technique to remain the same through all of your images. This will be one of the factors that will tie your body of work together.
5. Your body of work
You will have a great deal of work to show, but that doesn’t mean it should all be shown. If you are shooting work for an exhibition at a gallery then you will have a certain number of images that you will need to display. It can be challenging to shoot so much and then have to go through and decide what works and what doesn’t work for your collection. Your collection should be cohesive and unified when displayed together.
6. Create an artist statement
An artist statement is a quick explanation that helps others understand what your work is about and why you decided to create it. You will need an artist statement when you display your work at a gallery. Creating an artist statement even before you begin to create your body of work can help reduce distraction in your images. The first two sentences of your statement should be an overview of your entire project. This should be followed by two or three sentences that explain how those ideas show through your work.
Fine Art Photography Tips
- Study other fine art photographers. The best way to learn how to break into fine art photographer is from those who have already done it. Find a few fine art photographers you enjoy and study their work extensively. This will allow you to identify how their work all connects and relates to one another.
- Fine art photography is more than just black and white images. Many photographers tend to shoot in black and white to bring more focus to the main subject, but this can be done even with color images.
- Color grading in post-production is just one of the ways you can begin to create your own unique style. Sticking with the same processing style will allow your body of work to look more cohesive.
- Implement different techniques. Learn how post-processing and camera settings can help s put an emphasis on your idea, like adjusting the shutter speed to freeze or blur movement.
- Start off with just one specific subject for your project. This can be a place, them or activity. When starting out this will help you learn how to create a body of work centered around one main idea.
- Avoid being too vague with your body of work and skip grainy, noisy or using too strong of a vignette with your images. This cliché techniques are often overused and poorly implemented.
You don’t need a fine art degree to shoot fine art photography, but you do need to have a clear focus and understanding of what it is you want to shoot. Unlike many other photography niches, fine art photography isn’t just about what is in front of the camera, it is much more about what you as a photographer have to say and show the world.