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Day 134: All About Fine Art

Fine art is a very special type of photography that I believe has become more popular as of late, but is hardly the style you think of when you hear the word photography. Even so it is such a freeing style of photography because it allows you to create worlds and characters that would otherwise live only in your mind. Because I was decided on crafting my career around this style of photography, I wanted to share a practical blog post about how to create a fine art image.

First things first, what is fine art photography? A simple google search will show you hundreds of photo is basically every single style possible, going to show that when you say “fine art” every single person in one room could have a different idea of what that looks like. According to Wikipedia fine art photography is defined as follows, “Fine art photography is photography created in line with the vision of the artist, using photography as a medium for creative expression. The goal of fine art photography is to express an idea, a message, or an emotion.”

Fine art photography is all about expressing meaning through the visuals of a photograph. Because this is the definition of the style, you can now understand why the fine art images look so diverse. No matter what your images look like, if your purpose is to communicate an idea, message, or emotion it becomes fine art.

For me fine art photography is about creating an image that communicates both a personal story and a universal meaning. I’ve developed my style over the course of six years and have recently come to acknowledge and put into the words the fact that I am striving after brilliant colors in images that do not feel photographic. All my images become squares during the editing process, simply for the continuity in my portfolio and the diversity from other photographers.

When I am setting out to create a fine art photo, I begin with an idea. Whether developed from a particular theme or inspired by some random moment, I keep all my ideas in a composition notebook. Beginning with a sketch, a paragraph describing the photo, and a paragraph describing the meaning in the photo I now have my base to build upon.

From there comes the fun part, the photoshoot! Gathering together my props and tripod, I travel to my location in my costume and set up the scene. As a self-portrait artist I am the model in well of 95% of the images I create. This is becomes of several reasons including convenience (I’m always with me and available) and the fact that the images become even more personal for me.

The shoot is probably my favorite part of creating simply because I am able to step into the shoes of a completely new person who is experiencing a completely different world. This is where the magic happens and where I begin crafting an image that evokes meaning and emotion. It is also important to note, however, that this is also where a lot of practical things have to take place. All of my images are editing and it is during the shoot that I have to make sure I have all the elements I could need. One thing I always do is expand the frame in Photoshop, this requires me to take the picture of the model and then tilt the camera all around to capture extra photos of the background. This allows me to not only expand the frame into a square, but also enables us to print a larger print.

Photoshop is the next step. Every single image I have ever created has gone through Photoshop, which I should mention is not cheating. I’ve heard some artist comment on the fact that editing an image makes it phony or not a photograph anymore. Well, I’m here to tell you that almost every photo is edited and how on earthy could we create such beautiful work without the tool called Photoshop? No matter how much editing you do, if your base media is a photograph, you are a photographer.

Experimenting is my favorite thing to do during this process because you never know what you might discover. Everything I have learned in Photoshop was either self taught or learned through an online workshop. If you have any questions on how to use specific tools, be sure to check out YouTube tutorials, they are life savers. The final thing I have to note about finishing an image is knowing when it is done. It is nearly impossible to know when an image is truly finished, there seems to always be one more little thing you could do. But I must caution against going too far, this happens when you push and push and push past the images point of comfort. Allow the image to speak up and guide you where it wants to go. All it takes is a keen eye.

And there you have it. All it takes to create a fine art photograph, but remember no matter the specific style you are working within, it is all about creating a photo rich with meaning and emotions. That is what makes it fine art.

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

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