Creating a Fine Art Photo Is Not About Showing What You See
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 I speak of proximity, I am 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 my nature photography courses, I frequently explain to my trainees that the most important thing is to ponder the world around me. 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 I 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. I often use the phrase "connecting with the invisible". I 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 me, it's the only method that works well.
Chance Creates an Unknown “Special Something”
In a previous paragraph I mentioned that I only photograph that which I 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, I hold true to my theory of the luck factor, which I 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 I 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. I 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 I always display my work on my website, in exhibitions, or in my biography. It allows people to better understand my personality and my artistic approach when context is provided.
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. I 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.
Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.