Why Mastering the Steps of Creating an Art Photograph

Creating an art photograph is not just about shooting in the field. This creative process requires five distinct steps that any author photographer must master in order to produce quality works.

Photograph in black and white of the Grand Canyon from Arizona State in USA.

Photograph in black and white of the Grand Canyon from Arizona State in USA.

The First Step in the Creation of an Art photograph: The Shooting

In nature photography, the principles of shooting are identifiable and well known. The first recommendation we always make during our photo classes is to create a methodology as we described in this article.

The application of a rigorous method allows the photographer to develop his creativity by avoiding wasted time. He can focus totally on his photographs.

Then comes the time of recognition of the field, weather conditions, knowledge of animal habits if it is a wildlife session. In the case of underwater photography, it is even more complicated because the time is limited, and the currents can be strong.

Then comes choice of the point of view of the scene. Then the photographer must take care of the framing and the composition of the photograph.

When creating an artistic photograph, one must never forget that one tries to have an emotional relationship with the scenes.

The photographer must become involved in the photograph and must show that he is present behind the viewfinder of the camera. Every photographic element must be thought. Each element must give meaning to the image made. The photographer transmits a message.

When shooting a photo of nature, the photographer must be in fusion with the world around him. He must feel the power of the natural elements. He must be in harmony with everything he sees. An artistic photographer is not present on the stage just to document but to express himself and show his vision of the world.

During our photo workshops, we always take all the arrangements for the participants to forget their everyday life and the hassle. We always try to totally immerse them in the photographic activity. We apply this method to ourselves when we create photos for a collection.

This step of the shooting requires a great concentration to disregard everyday life. Only the scene in the viewfinder is important.

For us, during the shooting step during a landscape session, the tripod is an essential accessory. Indeed, it allows to modify the points of view, the framing and the compositions in a precise and subtle way.

The tripod also allows adjustment of the exposure parameters when a scene is poorly exposed, without having to change the positioning of the case.

When shooting, the photographer uses accessories such as the tripod, a remote shutter, filters, a camera, lenses. All this material must be mastered and perfectly known.

Once on the field, it is too late to learn how to use them. Natural conditions change quickly. All this learning must be done before the session.

Shooting is the first step in creating a fine art photo. It is the basis of the creative process. Do not master it, is a mistake. We must never forget that a missed photo will be missed even with the development.

The Second Step in the Creation of an Art Photograph: the Development

The shooting of an artistic photo makes it possible to freeze a scene of a landscape, an animal or underwater. This scene will serve as a support for the transmission of a message, an emotion or the feelings of the photographer.

The author of the photo will use the framing and composition to get the rendering he has chosen. Development will serve two purposes:

  • Tackle technical limitations of cameras such as noise reduction or sharpening.
  • Reinforce the artistic vision of the photographer with the adjustment of the tones, the colors, the management of the light, the removal of possible disturbing elements.

Post processing is essential to create a beautiful photograph. A photographer must master all the techniques.

We are seeing more and more photographers calling on professional developers and designers to process their photos. It has become commonplace. They do so either because they are not computer literate or because of lack of time to perform these time-consuming tasks.

We can understand that choice, but we do not share it. We develop our own pictures knowing that the results would be even more perfect if we hired an expert.

We must not forget that artists like Michelangelo, Raphael or da Vinci had at their service students who painted for them. These artists used to put the final touches like hands for example.

We believe that in artistic photography, even if the photographer gives precise directions, the result will not be in keeping with his artistic approach.

We often think of Ansel Adams, the American photographer made famous by his photographs of landscapes, who spends a very long time developing his own shots in his dark room. For him it was a personal and essential step to his creativity.

A photographer must learn how to use the tools at his disposal to showcase his artistic approach. It's not easy but we always have to learn and always question to ourselves. Nothing is ever won. The creation of photographs with a high quality is a real challenge.

The Third Step in the Creation of an Art Photograph: The Printing

Once a photograph was made in the field, developed with a computer, the photographer put all his creativity in its realization. He has in his possession a photograph that corresponds to his artistic approach.

But it's not yet an artistic work. To become one, the picture must now to be printed. It is a delicate work because the paper must be chosen with discernment. The texture must match the rendering of the photo.

Printing is a very difficult job that requires a lot of skills and knowledge. As far as we are concerned, we always work in collaboration with professional printers working in specialized laboratories.

Many tests are necessary because the results vary a lot from one paper to another or even from one ink to another.

When we print photos, we always keep PSD files containing all the settings of the development. Usually, we come back to the main file to change some of them, especially light and contrast. Depending on the type of printer and the type of paper, the adjustments vary. That's why we have digital files based on the printers and labs we work with.

For us, a photograph only exists from the moment it is printed. This is the purpose of our artistic work. Digital media are only for communication or marketing purposes.

The Fourth Step in the Creation of an Art Photograph: The Framing

Once a photo has been printed, it can be framed. This is an option that should be considered with interest because to highlight a piece of art, we think it is necessary.

We work with experts in this field. Precise rules exist according to the colors, the tones. Similarly, the thickness of the frame must be chosen wisely. Nothing is improvised. It is essential for a photographer to develop skills in this area.


Creating an art photograph of nature is not just about shooting. The photographer must go through four steps. He must develop skills to affirm and reinforce his artistic approach. This is why it takes time, a lot of work, energy and a lot of failures before mastering this extraordinary artistic field.

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