4 Tips to Create Aesthetics Photos

Do you think an aesthetic photo actually means anything?

Have you ever used the expression “this picture is aesthetic"?

Can we take a moment to talk about aesthetics in photography?

I have found these questions to be essential for my photographic activity.

After hours of research, I have found answers.

In this article, I will share with you my knowledge of aesthetics in photography.

Waterfall of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Waterfall of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.

The Little story of this Article

A few years ago, I was looking for a photo gallery to represent me in the East of France. I had sent dozens of letters. I finally was granted an appointment with a gallery. I was so happy, and I told myself that I was going to reach my goal.

I booked a flight ticket. I picked up five artworks in my place of residence in Europe. After three days of traveling from Texas, I found myself in Alsace.

I double-checked the time and date of the appointment with the photo gallery. When I arrived, the gallery owner was waiting for me.

I presented him with the five artworks I had chosen. He flew over my work. Then, after a few moments of intense reflection, he said to me, "I believe that your photos are too aesthetic. I am not interested. I hope that you will find a gallery corresponding to your artistry.”

And just like that, the interview was over. It was not the shortest appointment I have ever been to, but after three days of traveling and a lot of hope, those ten minutes left a bitter taste in my mouth.

So, I drove my car back along the 800 km (500 miles) of road that separated me from my residence.

The gallery owner’s expression "too aesthetic" resonated in my head over and over as I drove. I was frustrated and confused.

I began to think that he probably did not understand the meaning of the expression.

After some research and a few scribbled pages, I understood that the gallery owner had used an unsupported argument.

The owner had wanted to play the role of a learned art critic. He had certainly heard others criticize works, and thus repeated these words thinking that he was showcasing his cultural knowledge. A dead fish goes with the flow.

I realized that his argument was worthless because it did not make sense, as there was no evidence.

The gallery owner was not an exception. In photography, the word “aesthetics” is often misused by many photographers and critics.

I will unpack its meaning in the rest of this article.

Definition of The Word "Aestheticism”

Aestheticism is a philosophical theory that sets out to determine the reasons that something is considered beautiful.

You can already see that aestheticism is ultimately about studying behavior. It is by no means a precise doctrine that defines strict and clear rules.

Definition of The Word "Aesthetics”

If the word “aestheticism” is a philosophical theory, the word “aesthetics”, which is derived from it, can be used as an adjective.

The word “aesthetics” defines the perception of beauty, or the emotions it evokes.

This is often the meaning that most people use.

In its broadest definition, aesthetics is the study of sensory perceptions, emotions, and judgements related to the essence of beauty.

For me, this definition is the most interesting because it is intuitive, easy to understand, and above all, easy to implement in photography.

Applying “Aesthetics” to Photography

As I explained in other articles of this blog:

"The mission of photographic art is to break our habits of thought and our fixed representations into images that would arrange the authority of an exclusive realism".

This is the reason that pushed me to become an artistic photographer after a career in illustrative photography. I wanted to free myself from the editorial shackles, breaking the chains imposed on me through precise technical criteria.

Let us return to our study of aesthetics.

Defining aesthetics in photography is to define why some people find photos beautiful.

In a previous article, I explained that:

"A photograph is beautiful if it evokes a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction to the viewer. I want to emphasize that the photographer is also included as a “viewer”.

Finally, to concretely define aesthetics in photography is to define why some people find your photographs beautiful.

I would like to share two sentences that I have always found remarkably interesting because they are perfectly adapted to photographic activity:

"Aesthetics defines the science of the sensible."

"The aesthetics is the science of beauty in nature and in art."

This last sentence is extraordinary to me. Indeed, I am passionate about the wonders of nature and its hidden treasures. Artistically highlighting the wonders of nature is one of the most important aspects of my photographic “why”.

If you take away one thing from this paragraph, remember this: Photographic aesthetics focuses on understanding why people appreciate a certain work by an artist.

Why Defining Aesthetics in Photography?

After these few paragraphs of definition and application to photography, you have certainly understood that the purpose of aesthetics is to understand why people love certain photographs.

But you may be asking yourself, “Why does this matter to me, personally? Why should I be interested in this philosophical doctrine of aesthetics?”

I will give you several reasons that I think are essential answers to this question.

The first reason for being interested in the aesthetics of photography is to find out why people like your photos.

By giving an answer to this question, you will persist in your photographic and/or artistic choices.

If you practice illustrative photography for articles or books, you will be able to better understand your stories and the reasons of why you choose to take these types of photos.

If you practice artistic photography, you will establish criteria that define your style. You will list your strong points, and you will then be able to use this list as a reference for highlighting photo sessions.

The second reason is to strengthen your photographic mind and your photographic “why” or “purpose.”

If you know why your photos appeal to on your audience, you will gain confidence. You will no longer doubt your ability to create excellent works. Your photographic mindset will strengthen. When you receive negative criticism of your photographic activity you will be able to respond more objectively because your analysis will be conducted in a calm manner.

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The third reason for understanding how your photos’ aesthetics spark the interest of your viewers is that in doing so, you strengthen your artistry. Indeed, by studying the reasons for why your photos attract a certain audience, you will strengthen your photographic vision and your photographic signature. You will certainly remove techniques that you use because you will realize that they are useless.

You will learn about other techniques that are used to convey messages expressing emotions. This will enhance your symbolism.

If you have decided to create more conceptual or decorative photos, you will continue to apply the general processes that you are using. However, you may decide to apply them more subtly.

Finally, and this is the fourth reason, you will continue to create more consistent photos, by following a guideline that you have chosen. Your photographic activity will be more personalized, making it stand out from other photographers.

If, for example, you realize that it is your compositions, your framing, and your development method that are your assets and your strength, you will continue in this direction. Your photographic creations will be consistent, making them easy to recognize.

I want to conclude by emphasizing the importance of defining the aesthetics of your photos. It is a crucial step that strengthens your photographic activity by ensuring a consistent, coherent, and creative production.

How Defining Aesthetics in Photography?


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