Ways to Shoot Art Photography

If you are an experienced or novice photographer it is an inevitability that you will eventually decide to do some “art” photography. Just like painting can be representative of a subject (meaning photographic in its execution) or it can be abstract, so too can photography. Abstract photography tends to be viewed as art photography, and it can use many of the same techniques as more traditional work, but it also has to be done with a few special considerations too.
What sort of special considerations are required? The first thing to note is the format that you intend to record the images. If you are going to be “tinkering” with your photographs in an editing program you may want to consider shooting your art photos in the RAW format. While a JPG file tends to be the universal choice for many modern photographers, it is only the RAW files that can allow you the ultimate in control and quality.

For example, if you shoot an image in JPG and with your camera set on the black and white option, the sensor will not send messages to the memory about the actual color values it is “seeing”. Instead, the data will head into the memory in a much more flat pattern with only the varying shades of grey, white and black memorized. Should you shoot the same image in full color and in RAW, your photo editing program will allow you to enjoy a much stronger range of options where conversion is concerned. This can lead to a black and white image with striking depth and an impressive amount of high and low lighting.

Once you decide the format of the files, you will then need to understand your actual goals. When people discuss art photography they may be speaking in a “coded” language and referring to nude photography, abstract imagery, or even “fine” art photography instead. Only the photographer can understand what they want to see in the final prints and this determines how the photographs are taken.

For example, let’s say that you are hoping to work strictly in the abstract sense. You would need to know how to set your camera to record images with the basic looks you want, and you would also need to understand how to use your photo editing software to obtain the final results to their fullest degree. You may need to understand the various effects of filters and special lenses too, and these tend to be tools employed regularly by all photographers, but especially by those creating more alternative imagery.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (17)

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  1. Angie says:

    Excellent article,thank you.

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  4. Dolly says:

    Ya he visto algunos hay …


  5. Good info and especially the part about shooting in raw format. I used to take all my pictures in jpg because of the file size. But after switching to raw format i have been able to produce a lot better quality work. With Raw format, the camera captures a picture with enough surrounding data to cover two stops of over or underexposure, all possibilities of white balance, and several additional variables. Just like a regular Jpeg or Tiff, the camera sets the exposure & white balance where it (or you) think it should be according to its metering & white balance analysis … but if they come out wrong, they can be easily reset on your computer.

    Exposure Compensation and White Balance are the most important tools for Raw files, they’re also the easiest to learn & use.

    Thanks for the great post.


    • Shannon, I agree. I shoot in both so I have a back up for archival purposes as well as being able to view it straight away. The only thing is when you shoot in raw, or both, you need extra memory space as raw takes up loads of space on your card. Thanks for the comments. :)

  6. Bob Johnson says:

    A great piece – thank you so much for posting it. I would definitely recommend thet every one else should have a look at it.

  7. John Bades says:

    In my professional and humble opinion, you do share some good ideas (lol, I’m only kidding about the professional/humble part), but yes I did like what you say in your post here. Do you think that this is a broad strategy that can be applied for most people or is this something that only a ‘few’ can ever hopes to put to work for them?

    • John, have hope: you can do this thing called photography, you really can. When I first started 8 years ago, it felt like my head was going to explode with all the information out there. But I finally mastered it and now I am a professional photographer. You can see some of my images under my gallery as proof that anyone can do this, with the right guidance of course. :) My guidance.

  8. Miato says:

    Love your site, thank you for the excellent info.

  9. The Art of Digital Photography

    Computers and cellular phones, mobility and microchips – these are the trademarks of the world today. We live in a world continually changed by technology. Even the arts have continually changed due to technology. Think of it: from charcoal drawings to painting to photography to digital photography, we have come a long way in the visual arts. We have used various methods in capturing life and freezing time. New technology is continually being developed to make art easier and more fun. However, you should know that the art of digital photography is not as simple as aim and shoot.

    The art of digital photography needs skill in order to pull off properly. Although some people may reason out that digital photography art can always be edited, many people do not really know how much work editing can be. Oh sure, we can say that technology has reached a level wherein a person needs to do practically nothing in order to achieve a great photograph, but of course, you need to know how to use the tools properly in order to do that.

    The art of digital photography, in order to be truly mastered, needs three T’s: Time, talent and tactical placement of equipment. No, that’s not right. You need time, talent and treasure. Just what does this mean?

    1) Time – one cannot be an instant expert in digital photography. You need to take the time to learn all about it. Even though you are some sort of protg who has the talents of a genius, you actually need training to hone that talent. Remember that for all its power, a steamroller cannot be used to do the work of a hammer. There is wisdom in harnessing power properly.

    Taking the time to train your self in the art of digital photography is something akin to sharpening a knife using a grindstone or forging a fine katana (that’s the Japanese samurai sword) by heating it and folding it over a thousand times -it may be painful, but it is necessary to produce the best.

    2) Talent – of course, you need a bit of inherent talent in order to be truly great at the art of digital photography. You need to have an eye for the subjects that would make a great photograph. Otherwise, you will only end up being mediocre in a field that requires greatness.

    Of course, the proper training can actually enhance your inherent talent and help you sharpen your skills in the art of digital photography.

    3) Treasure – as said before, you will need the proper tools in order to be successful in the art of digital photography. This means that you will need to invest a lot of cash. Although there are a lot of digital art photography equipment that can be bought at inexpensive prices, the best equipment needs some serious pocket digging. This, of course, tests your courage because there’s nothing scarier to a man than having to pull out his wallet in the name of an untested interest.

    Once you have invested money in the art of digital photography, there’s no turning back.

    The art of digital photography may seem like it requires a lot. However, in order to be truly successful in something you need love and love always requires sacrifice. You should keep that in mind.

  10. Fredda Kruskie says:

    I love artistic photography Amy, espcially with my new Nikon D300. Great camera, it allows me to do very artistic photography.

  11. Adrianna says:

    Quite a beautiful website. Thanks for the great content.

  12. Blake says:

    This was a great article. I didn’t know all the cool things about using the RAW format instead of the JPEG format. The thing that is so amazing about art photography is that it is fundamentally different from a painting or another work of art. Most works of art are about creating art, building something from nothings, taking things that aren’t of high value themselves like stone, or random colors and turning them into something special. The thing about photography is that it is in everyday the spiritual opposite to painting. With photography, you are discovering the art and beauty in the world around us. Taking something like a sidewalk or a random building and waiting for that one moment when the light hits it just right to turn it into something extraordinary. Photography doesn’t make it art, it lets us see the art all around us.

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