A Fine Art Photo is Often Symbolic and Complex to Compose
The Composition of an Art Photography is Complex
The creation of an artistic photograph always begins with the shooting. We place ourselves inside of the photograph and not a montage photo (we are speaking of the photograph specifically rather than the general term of photography). The composition and the framing of an art photo is very complex and difficult to achieve. Indeed, it must have several levels of understanding for an audience. Each level must give a way of being interpreted and judged.
An artistic photo does not reveal itself at first sight. It must be suggestive. It takes time to interpret and understand what the artist wished to translate. An audience must stand in front of an image when it is printed and contemplate, interpret and examine the content from an emotional viewpoint.
An artistic photograph suggests introspection, the search for oneself. Deciphering the meaning of an art photo takes time because it is not concrete or factual.
An Art Photograph Does Not Need to be Located
The geographical location of an artistic photograph of nature whether animal, landscape, or underwater, does not need to be specified. This information does not matter.
The geographical location can be named and specified in the form of a subtitle, but the important thing is that the photographed scene is at the service of the artistic vision of the photographer. It must serve as a support for the message that must be transmitted.
A popular scene or an area that is easily identified by the general population is an excellent subject of an introspective artistic photo. It is the photographer who will choose how he will embellish the scene to convey the message and emotional impact. The photographer wields the paintbrush.
An exceptional scene or behavior does not necessarily make a photograph into an artistic picture, unless the photographer knows how to utilize the proper tools and techniques when shooting, and later when highlighting with post-processing. An exceptional scene is not a sufficient condition for the creation of a photographic work of art. Emotional and sentimental content is necessary otherwise the photography will lack artistic interest.
Incorporating technique into a photograph is the main difference between artistic photography and documentary photography. A documentary photo must show an extraordinary place or an exceptional behavior. It is often the unexpected and the exceptional that characterizes this photographic genre. However, a documentary photo is difficult to achieve, as it is a rare testimony to a single moment in nature. Such a picture provides nobility. For example, a rare animal makes an excellent subject for a unique documentary photo. A distant, harsh landscape that is difficult to access also makes an exceptional documentary photo. An underwater image of the ocean’s mysterious depths presents significant technical challenges. Overcoming these challenges is what makes a documentary photograph successful. Because few people attempt to master the rough wilderness, documentary photos are valuable. Nevertheless, if the author did not use the scene to convey his emotions and perspective, then the photo has poor artistic value.
Let's not forget that a documentary photographer does not have to get involved in the photo he makes. It is factual and should be designed to express an unbiased opinion.
Finally, whether the scene is banal or extraordinary, the photographer must obey the same artistic photography principle: the photograph must convey the vision of the photographer.
The Metaphorical Level of an Art Photo
As we mentioned earlier, an artistic photograph must be read on many levels. One of them, and for us, it's certainly the most important on the metaphorical level.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term, a set of terms, or an idea is defined by an expression that normally means something else. For example, when we speak of a tree, we call it "a witness to the passing of time". When we see a sky laden with dark clouds we are referring to "the wrath of heaven".
Artistic photography, like other forms of art, can express itself in a metaphorical form. The question we are often asked is "Is it better to express an emotion in metaphorical form rather than using more clearly direct words?" For us, the answer is yes. Indeed, art photography is not descriptive nor is it factual. It reflects the photographer's opinion, sensitivity, and emotion. Metaphorically expressing the character of a photographic work only extends the artistic photographer's vision and artistic approach.
Again, if we use our example of trees, a documentary photographer would say that they are "perennial plants, ligneous, ramous, which can reach at least 7 meters of height and bear their durable branches only at a certain distance from the ground." As photographers who create fine art photographs, we see the trees as witnesses to times long past. These expressionless figures have been contemplating humanity for hundreds of years.
The use of metaphors is not always easy because they are arbitrary and engage only the author who uses them. Moreover, they vary from one culture to another.
In artistic photography, it is the elements of the scene that express the metaphor desired by the artist photographer. This method allows the artist to assert his vision and style.
Another example of research on photographic metaphors concerns gelada monkeys. It is a species only found in the highlands of Ethiopia. For us, they are not monkeys but an anthropomorphic vision of our human societies. We never photograph human beings, thus, thanks to the geladas, we can express our perspective on humanity.
Finally, the use of metaphors creates a higher level of reading to photographic works created by an artist. It is necessary to know how to use them wisely so that audiences with diverse cultures can interpret and read them without causing misunderstandings as unintentional as they are.
Fine Art Photography Requires Quality
A photographer who wishes to create photographs of art must be irreproachable in the quality of his/her photos. By using the word quality, we imply several points that are essential for us.
The word quality implies that each photograph must be carefully thought out so as to match the artistic approach chosen by the artist.
The word quality applies to each shot, whether for the choice of the point of view, the choice of the composition, or for the choice of framing. But quality also means perfect technical mastery in noise management and the degree of sharpness.
The word quality almost implies that the development of the photos must be technically flawless. This does not mean that the chosen aesthetic should please every viewer, however, each detail must be made with care and delicacy. For example, the cropping, the removal of the sensor’s spots, and the management of the horizon must be precise.
Finally, the word quality integrates the presentation of photographic works. The photographer himself must convey tremendous importance, taking care to be strictly professional when presenting his work to different audiences. He owes them respect, and this should be shown through every detail of the performance, whether it be the support of the photographs, the frames, or the frame liners. All of these things must be chosen carefully. Nothing must be left to chance.
The evocation of these few points, even if they are incomplete, show that a qualitative creation of fine art photographs is very time-consuming. With only twenty-four hours a day and only seven days a week, quality must efficiently dominate quantity.
Every detail counts when creating an artistic photograph. Nothing must be neglected. So, does the reputation of the photographer. A fine art photographer must never forget the respect it owes to the people who will look at its works. Without them, he would not exist.
Limited production is a guarantee of quality work because the time spent will be longer for each photograph. But danger lurks for the author. We have not experienced it personally, but we have already observed it. When a work is created, and it is successful, it is very tempting to reproduce it using all the quality criteria that we have just mentioned. As the whole chain is mastered and known, it is very easy complete this method of “copy-and-paste” as in a word processor. Unfortunately, each series after the other begins look identical as the first. For us, this is a grave mistake because the photographer falls into mass production. Even if the quality of the final photos is present, the artistry is not. When the artist favors quantity over quality, it is an act of disrespect towards the audience.