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.
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.