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Why: The Focus of Artistic Photography is not the Subject or Scene - 2

Click Here to Read the Part I of the Article.
This artistic photograph in black and white is not about the tree. The consequences of the interpretation of this photo is the ultimate goal of this creation.
This artistic photograph in black and white is not about the tree. The consequences of the interpretation of this photo is the ultimate goal of this creation.

The Grass is not Always Greener in the Neighbor

Many photographers think that the grass is greener on the neighbor’s side of the fence. These people choose to seek inspiration thousands of kilometers from their own region. However, one consequence of such actions is that the photographic subjects are so extraordinary they alone speak for themselves and they may not accurately portray how the artist is feeling.

Two mistakes are made in this situation.

The first mistake is that one does not have to rely on a certain location because there is a specific subject or scene present. The location must be chosen because it corresponds to the transmitted emotions and messages.

The second mistake is that most subjects are close to home. When we speak of proximity, we are referring to a few kilometers or a few hundred kilometers. It is not necessary to fly to find the perfect subject or scene.

Why do many photographers look for subjects so far away? Many answers are possible. Perhaps these photographers feel a need to prove to their audience of the gravity of their devotion for exceptional journeys. Showing exotic destinations is a way to ensure social status by saying "I can afford this trip and you cannot". This unpleasant attitude makes an artistic photographer unworthy of his or her name.

An artist photographer should not care whether their status is above or below others. The photographer should develop an artistic sensibility that honestly portrays his or her essence, emotions, and beliefs.

During our nature photography courses, we frequently explain to our trainees that the most important thing is to ponder the world around us. There are hidden treasures in the ordinary that are far more numerous than those found on distant adventures.

Never Limit Your Photographs to the Present Scene

The best advice we can give to nature photographers who wish to develop an artistic style is to always strive for what is beyond the present scene or subject being photographed.

A scene is only a support for transmitting emotions or feelings or for creating a conceptual photo. If you shoot a scene for what it is, you create a descriptive photo that will be used for a news page or stock purchase. It can also be used to explain to your friends or family what a lovely trip you made.

To create a good artistic picture, you must already know yourself well. You must define what you want to translate in your photo. Once on the field, you will choose the photographic elements, the framing, and the composition to better express yourself.

When you are facing a scene, you must immerse yourself in the environment. A connection between the setting and the artist must occur. We often use the phrase "connecting with the invisible". We focus on the atmosphere. You must immerse yourself in the atmosphere. You must soak up its sensations, scents, sights, and ambient noises. You must not think about the rest of the world. Instead, you must focus on the elements that are in front of you, whether they are visible or not. Then you can start triggering your device to create photographs with a lasting impact.

This is not an easy practice as it requires great concentration and a state of mind. However, for us, it's the only method that works well.

Chance Creates an Unknown “Special Something”

In a previous paragraph we mentioned that we only photograph that which we know well. It's a proven fact. It is for this reason that the first trip is priceless for an artistic photographer. In the first experiences of a location, a recognition is established in the memory that will last for decades.

Managing to create outstanding artistic photographs in an unknown place is rare. However, it is not impossible. When the unexpected occurs, we hold true to our theory of the luck factor, which we discussed in this article.

Luck is indefinable. But one thing is certain. It is by taking the plunge on the ground that one can encourage fortune so that when it occurs, all the elements of the scene are set up to discover an excellent artistic photo, even before the photographer has prepared. But it is necessary to master the technique and know immediately what one will do artistically with the scene.

This is where the experience of the photographer comes in and the famous state of mind that we have evoked. When luck smiles, you must be ready. It does not occur twice.

Helping the Viewer

When an artistic photograph is exhibited in a gallery or at an exhibition, it is not always easy for a viewer to understand or perceive all the emotional nuances placed in the image by the author of the photograph. We think it is necessary to help the viewer better understand the messages and emotions behind the photograph.

Although it is a little contradictory to the saying, "a photograph is better than a thousand words", it is the field of descriptive or illustrative photography that requires the author of the photograph to guide the viewer to a more complete understanding.

Indeed, the explicit photography of a scene describing a current event can sometimes tell much more than the text accompanying it.

Since artistic photography is not descriptive, but more emotional or conceptual, it is interesting to provide some lines of text to explain context, atmosphere, or facts that lead to the creation of a work.

An explanation allows viewers to immediately connect to the photographic elements and imagine a story. They will then take ownership of the photographic work.

It is also for this reason that we always display our work on our website, in exhibitions, or in our biography. It allows people to better understand our personality and our artistic approach when context is provided.

Finally

To understand that the object of an artistic photograph is not the photographed subject, but the consequences generated, is an essential concept to develop an interesting photographic vision. We must always strive to journey beyond the scenes of nature.

Nature is a source of inspiration. The elements should be used to express the emotions felt from such inspiration.

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Why: The Focus of Artistic Photography is not the Subject or Scene - 1

When we create an artistic photograph of nature, we remind ourselves that what is important is not the scene in front of us, rather, it is the emotional effect produced by those who experience it. The scene in front of us lasts but a moment, whereas the effects produced can continue to impact a viewer for quite some time. Above all things, an artistic photograph is influenced by the mindset of the artistic photographer.

The subject of this artistic photograph of a young gelada is not essential. The consequences of the interpretation of this photo is the ultimate goal of this creation.
The subject of this artistic photograph of a young gelada is not essential. The consequences of the interpretation of this photo is the ultimate goal of this creation.

Translating Emotions and Conveying Messages

When we create an artistic photograph of a terrestrial or aquatic landscape or animal, we focus on its representation. We do not focus on things as they are, but on what they emotionally represent.

For example, when we look at a tree, we do not see a plant, but the witness of time passing. For us, a symbolic waterfall physically shows time flowing in one moment. Geological formations and their photographed reflections on water represent forgotten paradises and hidden worlds.

For us, most of our artistic photographs are symbolic.

We always photograph to express ourselves and to transmit our emotions to those who encounter our works. Artistic photography is a great medium of expression, which we discussed in this article.

We believe that before we undertake a series of photos, it is important to imagine the polished results. If we arrive on a scene without preconceptions, we will not be able to create interesting photographs.

The Precise Destination or Animal Species is Irrelevant

When we travel far from home to create artistic photographs for our collections, we do not choose places or species because they are distant or exotic.

We make these choices because they correspond to what we seek to show. They accurately portray our emotions or how we feel.

For example, lately we have been photographing gelada in the mountains of northern Ethiopia. This animal species best characterizes how we wish to portray anthropomorphism. We did not choose this trip just for the sake of flying and meeting the Ethiopians (although we do love travelling and creating new relationships), however, this specific trip’s purpose was to capture images that best fit our vision.

Using Photographed Subjects as Sources of Inspiration

Since our transition from descriptive and illustrative photography to the creation of art prints, we have understood one essential fact: The subjects or scenes we are photographing are not the goals of our photographs. They are our source of inspiration. Even if we place direct focus on them in the scene by carefully choosing framing and compositions, and balancing the masses, our goal is to use them to share messages and emotions.

To reach this conclusion, it took time. We spent years in periods of reflection and introspection. We had to understand and analyze who we were exactly. We worked a lot on the definition of our emotions and the messages that we wanted to transmit through our photographs.

This was difficult because it required deep searching for our own buried emotions from specific experiences. It was a true psychological analysis which we conducted ourselves with the few tools we had at our disposal. This introspective research allowed us to define our artistic vision. Today, we still respect this definition of our vision. It belongs only to us.

Once this vision was coupled with our photographic style, we defined our artistic and photographic identity. We concede that it is a difficult and time-consuming step, which is essential to creating interesting photographic works.

Indeed, these works are personal and subjective, which we described in this article. They attract an authentic audience that is faithful to us because our style is recognized in our artistic photographs.

Today, when we choose a scene or an animal species to photograph, we always have a specific goal in mind that is related to our vision. We use our style to highlight it and translate our messages.

Nature is our true source of inspiration, rather than the subject of our photographs.

Having the Right Mindset for Subject Inspiration to Spark

To create an interesting and expressive artistic photography, we believe that we must be in a specific state of mind that is conducive to understanding the present scene.

It is essential to develop a connection with places through experiences so that the memories are not based on sight alone. The setting must be physically experienced and understood through all the senses. A photographic scene must be comprehended beyond what it looks like. The artist must experience it.

When this connection is established, a magic moment occurs. Emotions haunt us. We can write about these experiences as the memories flood back. We must truly “write what we feel” with each photograph.

When it is mastered, this photographic technique becomes an excellent service to incorporate. We use everything we have learned to sublimate what we see into messages or emotions.

This state of mind is not limited to when we are active on the field. It can be well prepared before the exact moment of photographic creation.

For example, when we photograph birds in the Dombes, we question our motives for choosing this region to photographically capture such animals. We impart meaning to the colors surrounding the subject. We think of the hours spent in using floating blinds on the trip. For each idea, we write key words and short sentences to describe our emotions. Then, we organize these ideas to construct a scenario that will guide us throughout the creative discovery process of our project. Once we have embarked on our journey, we keep this scenario in mind. We allow our imagination to wander the designated location while distinctly remembering certain moments with great care and attention to detail.

The intellectual approach that we have just mentioned requires a solid knowledge of the locations that will be used in the photographic process. We believe that we only photograph that which we know well.

When we first visit an unknown place, we research books, magazines, and internet articles. With the informational elements we discover through our research, we create an ideal scenario for our first experience. However, we know that creative results improve with time spent returning to the same location. It is true that the best things in life improve with age, and this often applies with art.

The Grass is not Always Greener in the Neighbor

To Read the Next Part of the Article, Click Here.
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Photographic Signature: Create Clean Compositions and Ethereal Scenes

Our photographs focus on representing scenes that are usually impossible to reproduce thus freezing those fleeting moments. The conservation and education of nature flow through each of their artistic photographic works, connecting them together. The technological tools are the brushes that we use to illuminate the surreal elements of the natural landscapes spanning the universe captured within the frame.

This young gelada monkey is a perfect photograph of our photographic signature.
This young gelada monkey is a perfect photograph of our photographic signature.

The Guidelines of our Artistic and Photographic Vision

Our photographic vision is summarized by a contemplative and artistic interpretation of nature.

To show it in our photos, we always follow these rules:

  • All our artworks capture nature at its most ethereal and beautiful.
  • Our compositions are clean and free of unnecessary elements.
  • We photograph unique and ephemeral moments.
  • We often like to give a symbolic dimension to our photographs to express our emotions, our feelings and to convey messages.
  • Our artworks are aesthetic.
  • Our artworks are elegant, harmonious.
  • The volumes and masses are always in balance in our works.
  • We sometimes add a naturalistic dimension to our photographs to show and testify to the fragility of the world around us.
  • We always use whatever tools we must keep our photos consistent with our vision. The tools are not an end in themselves.

A Dreamlike Interpretation of the Beauties of Nature

We have not always been professional photographers. We followed circuitous paths to make that dream a reality. As we followed these paths, we built up our vision. Our dreams have always been a driving force in our careers. Although we have already achieved our biggest dream, our dreams still inspire our photos. We have a dream behind every photo collection we make.

We know that our dreams have always been the source of our passion. Even though we realized our greatest dream, we continue to live in the imagination to build our artistic photos. For example, when preparing a new art collection, we talk a lot and we imagine the construction of photos using sketches.

The choice of our subjects, our framing and our photo compositions are intended to make dream the people who watch our works of art.

We love freedom above all. Sharing our passion for nature with others is a way for us to share moments of escape.

Through our nature photographs, we want to capture the attention of the audience and captivate their imagination.

Showing Ethereal Scenes

Nature is the source of our inspiration. It guides our photography. We look for its most hushed, delicate, fragile qualities.

We try to show nature at its most sublime. We want to preserve delicate, ethereal, intangible, fleeting moments. We want our photos to evoke in others the profound feelings that we experienced when we saw the scene.

Creating Clean Compositions

In our artistic photographs, we always try to isolate the subject from the background and simplify the composition as much as possible. We eliminate any defects or unnecessary elements to produce the cleanest compositions we can. Our photos are always very simple. Over time, we have learned that simple things are often the hardest.

Showing Unique and Ephemeral Moments

We love to photograph moments that will fade away and be gone forever, leaving no trace, scenes that are impossible to replicate.

We have always felt a great need to preserve these fleeting moments in a photograph. We chose photography to do this over drawing or painting, because these become an interpretation of what we see, whereas photography is an art that shows what is really there. Although we interpret what we see through the framing and composition, what we show is always something real. We want to be faithful witnesses to nature's beauty.

From our point of view, photography makes it possible to cut a piece of space to freeze it in a given time. Once that moment passed, everything changed. This is reason that we practice this visual art. But in our approach, we always try to create timeless photos.

When we contemplate a landscape at sunrise, or watch an animal walking through the woods, we feel a need to preserve the fleeting beauty of the moment. This is why we create photographs.

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Why: Artistic Photography is Subjective

Photography in general is subjective. Artistic photography specifically is even more so. Whether it is the photographer, author, or the collector of photographic works, each person’s choices are subjective and personal. If the photographer focuses on being objective, he loses his status as an artist. Each creative act must be subjective for it to lead to an interesting and worthwhile work.

CThis artistic photograph of a buffalo is subjective because the choice of the attitude, the composition, the framing.
This artistic photograph of a buffalo is subjective because the choice of the attitude, the composition, the framing.

How to Define Subjectivity

Subjectivity is the quality of that which does not give a faithful representation of an observed thing, as it varies with each person.

We also like this definition stating that subjectivity is the presence of someone who considers reality only through his state of consciousness and not others.

The Creative Act is Subjective

An artistic photograph is the result of a particular vision. It is created when the artistic photographer makes specific choices in the composition, the framing, and the photographic elements. This detailed labor conveys emotions or personal messages.

An artistic photograph reflects the temperament or the moods of a person. It reflects who the author is.

From the moment a photographer focuses on pleasing the greatest number of people, just because it is in the air, he ceases to be an artist. One could say that he becomes a craftsman or a salesman. However, he is just creating pictures without a purpose. In no case can he claim the status of artist.

Being an artist, especially in photography, is neither better nor less than being a craftsman. As we wrote in this article, it is a social status that has its specificities.

An artist photographer must be subjective. If he becomes objective in his shots, he will make descriptive photographs to illustrate magazine articles and books. Whether it is wildlife or underwater photography, these creators are referred to as naturalists.

From our point of view, being a naturalist is a fundamental and essential distinction from being an artist.

The Act of the Collector is Subjective

Our main clients are collectors of artistic photographs. We never know why they are interested in our works. When we discuss a purchase with our client, we always discover unexpected reasons for their interest in the product. For some, our works evoke childhood memories. For others, it is the tranquility of the scenes. It could also be that the marriage of a vivid imagination and our photograph provoke a metaphysical interrogation.

Finally, we also know collectors who buy our works because they correspond to their aesthetic criteria.

Each criterion is subjective. Nothing is ever predictable.

One must never forget that an artistic photograph results from the artist’s interpretation of a scene and the viewer's perception of it.

Subjectivity is not Synonymous with Popularity

The more subjective an artistic photograph is, the less likely it is to be appreciated by the greatest number of viewers.

Indeed, if a photographer artist is not seeking a compromise in trying to satisfy the greatest number of viewers or trying to appeal to the widest audience, it will drastically reduce his hearing because the number of common points will decrease.

It is true that in modern society, success is measured by the number of views or the number of followers, which is difficult for many photographers. Many of them mistakenly think that because they have a large audience, they will succeed in their artistic field. This is a terrible mistake on their part.

During these last years, we learned that we should not confuse notoriety and incomes. In our case, we are not mad users of social media networks. We use them sparingly and wisely. We use social media networks for marketing purposes only. These outlets are not used in such a way to reveal everything about us or our work. We especially do not rely on these networks to attract the largest number of likes or followers.

Creating artistic photographs by being deliberately subjective is a totally different act than being factual. The more factual or descriptive a photographer is, the less he will solicit the culture of the people he is addressing. He will focus on finding the common denominator of the crowd, and then heavily weigh upon that one theme or aspect. He will have fewer personal satisfactions when creating works, and his products will become repetitive. His purpose will be creating pleasant works to satisfy the greatest number of people. This is not the goal of an artistic vision, and we are not interested in this profession.

The more an artist-photographer creates personal works, the smaller the audience, however, the quality of his artistic approach will be recognized as priceless.

Subjectivity or Objectivity: A Question of Choice

Creating artistic works is a subjective choice on the part of an artistic photographer. Creating descriptive or illustrative photographs is an objective choice on the part of a general photographer.

Neither choice is better than the other. It's just a matter of choice that must be assumed by the photographer. The important thing is to be satisfied and happy with the choices one has made.

Finally

An artist photographer assumes his subjective choices when he creates photographic works. His choices were analyzed and understood. He must accept the consequences: the notoriety should not be the goal but a consequence. But he must never forget that subjectivity and objectivity are incompatible.

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Why a Photographer May Have Difficulty Defining Himself as an Artist – Part 2

Click Here to Read the Part I of the Article.
This fine art photograph of the landscapes of Simien Mountains in Ethiopia is artistic.
This fine art photograph of the landscapes of Simien Mountains in Ethiopia is artistic.

The Method That Encouraged Us to Assume Our Status

When we went from reportage and stock photography to artistic photography as a full-time professional activity, we experienced the three pitfalls described above.

We worked hard and changed our perspective, allowing us to assume our new status. This transition was a pivotal change in our lives. We did not have the tools to take on this new chapter of artistic photographers. After days of reflection and introspection, we decided to move past a concentration on photo technique. We also decided to forgo our entrepreneurial side. We chose to think more in terms of products, which is similar to the mindset we had adopted for stock photography. However, this time, we decided to focus only on the artistic approach.

We centered our work around the three elements which we consider to be essential to define an artistic photographer:

  • Passion.
  • Creativity.
  • Way of being.

We have developed the idea that being an artistic photographer more closely resembles an artistic state of mind rather than the creating process of photographs. Artistic photographs and prints are only consequences of the artist’s state of mind and his behavior. Art prints are only objects that represent us, and when we reached this conclusion, we experienced a radical change in our opinions and perspectives. We decided that it was not our products that would define us, but the way in which we would behave towards others. We chose to define ourselves as an artist with a specific state of mind.

This paradigm shifts towards a “state of being” rather than a product, forced us to start from scratch. The challenge to begin completely afresh was daring. We learned to reinvent ourselves, to project ourselves into the future in a unique way. Today, we can say that this method has influenced our success.

Each day, we continue to develop and nurture these three qualities that have forged us.

The Development of Passion

One of the first qualities we developed and improved is our passion, which we invest in our artistic photography. Our goal is to always strive for excellence in everything we do, whether it occurs in our photographic creations, our marketing and commercial actions, or our communication with patrons and clients.

We take great care in preparing our appointments, our conferences, and our nature photography courses. For every action, we invest as much energy and passion as we can.

The Development of Creativity

The second quality to develop is creativity. An artist photographer must be independent from other photographers. He must develop an artistic vision of his own. At the beginning of our artistic activities, we were inspired by others. Nevertheless, we acknowledged the importance of striving for unique differences.

We have forged new creative paths. We never forget that inspiration in photography does not only come from other photographers. Painting, sculpture, drawing, music, video or film are all inspiring sources that must be explored when creating interesting photographic works.

The Way of Being

The third quality that we think characterizes an artistic photographer is his way of being, his state of mind.

It is certainly the essential quality.

Creating artistic photographs should not be the only purpose of a photographer's activity. Photographs are just objects. It is true that these prints encourage us to live a deeper life, however, the essential part of this experience is the process of creating them.

To create an artistic photograph is to reveal our passion, to translate emotions, feelings, or messages. It also helps the viewer to recognize aesthetic works.

But the most important thing for us is to do our own part. We must each bring our own little brick to help construct the larger building that every creative human being tries to climb.

To be an artistic photographer is to follow your own path, to go on unexplored personal adventures to find a true meaning in your life.

To be an artistic photographer is to dare to live outside of your comfort zone. This is not a task that is done between two everyday tasks. To assume this status is to assume a posture in every moment. This is the way we envision the world, of which we live all our experiences wherever we are.

To be an artistic photographer is to be independent of the current fads and trends that consume most people around us. When you are the artistic photographer, things are different. You are no longer a follower.

The state of mind that inspires us as photographic artists helps us to choose our life without compromise.

Finally

When he or she assumes the identity of an artistic photographer, he or she is revealing passion for photographic activity, true creativity, and above all, an authentic artistic mindset. If you have these qualities, never be afraid to claim your status. Be proud of the fact that you are an artistic photographer.

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