IDEAS OF CREATING: FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

Ansel Adams

That said, fine art photography is less about the subject and more about the photographer. Your goal in fine art landscape photography is not to simply to show your viewer what you saw; it’s to communicate how it felt to be there and how the scene made you feel.

It was subzero the morning I made this shot in Yellowstone National Park. I added a blueish tone to help the viewer experience the cold I felt when making the image.

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

Don McCullin

Here are some tips to consider when capturing fine art landscape photography.

Taking a picture of my son out in the Great Salt Lake, was one of my favorites. Because it was twilight, the whole scene seemed like a dream and that is what you want to do when you take photos. To have the viewer feel what you, as the photographer feels.

1. Think about what would make your image unique

Have you ever been making a landscape photo at a location where other photographers are lined up next to you also working the scene?

Most of us have.

The question to be asked is:

How will your photo will be different, unique, special? What is it about your image that will stand out? How can you put your unique signature on the shot?

The choices you make to create an image that is uniquely yours matter. Any cook can follow a recipe, and if a dozen cooks all work from that same recipe, the dishes will be essentially indistinguishable. The gourmet chef making their signature dish, however, will strive to make the meal unique.

And as a fine art landscape photographer, your objective ought to be the same.

Almost everyone loves a sunset photo, probably because of how they make us feel. Injecting feeling in your landscape photos is a large part of what takes an image into the “fine art” realm.

2. Be intentional and deliberate

When the light is rapidly changing, a landscape photographer might need to move quickly. However, most landscape photography can be done at a slow and thoughtful pace.

Rather than simply seeing a scene, positioning your tripod, shooting first and asking questions later, do the opposite. Before even touching your camera, thoughtfully observe the scene. Slow down.

Ask yourself what first attracted you to the scene. How does it make you feel? How can you best compose the shot? What if you moved higher, lower, to a different vantage point, used a different lens? What can you do to best capture your feelings in the frame?

When walking a trail in the high Uintah mountains, I came across this view. I felt like if I kept going on the trail, I would just walk into the sky.

Never be a one-and-done shooter. Take advantage of the instant playback capability of your camera, evaluate your image, and decide what might be better.

Then make a few more shots.

While he’s not a photographer and not talking about fine art landscape photography, famed hockey player Wayne Gretsky still offers advice photographers would do well to remember:

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Wayne Gretsky

3. Practice previsualization

You will know your skills are growing as a photographer when you can see your photograph before you even put your eye to the viewfinder.

Eventually, you should previsualize your finished image, have the vision, and then simply use the camera as an instrument to capture that vision.

It’s a beautiful loop:

The more you photograph, the better you become at seeing – and the better you become at seeing, the better your photographs will become.

I had been to this location many times, and so I had a good idea of what I wanted when I went there to make this blue hour image. I helped it a little more with a split-toned edit.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Dorothea Lange

But while previsualization is important, fine art landscape photography should always be open to serendipity: those unexpected moments when the light changes, the angels sing, and the miraculous appears for a brief moment for you to capture.

There have often been times when I’ve previsualized a shot, got set up, and waited for the light, only to have something amazing appear behind me out of the blue.

Practice working with your camera controls so that, when such a moment occurs, you can respond quickly and get the shot.

I was busy making the first shot, which was nice and even had a rainbow. Then I turned around and there was a second great opportunity. Always be ready for that serendipitous moment.

4. Fine art landscapes aren’t just monochrome

Google “fine art photography,” and you will mostly see black and white or monochrome, Due, perhaps, to its long existence, as well as a good number of early photographers for whom black and white was the only option, monochrome photographs may outnumber color images in the world of fine art.

But that’s not to say that color images can’t also be considered fine art photographs.

Circle back to our definition: Fine art photography is more about the artist/photographer and their vision than the content of the photograph. Whether color or monochrome, the best way to portray a vision will depend on the maker’s intent.

I had already decided this photo of an old snag should be monochrome when I made it. You can see the color version is just okay. The split-toned monochrome shot better exemplifies a fine art image.

“What I love about black and white photographs is that they’re more like reading the book than seeing the movie.”

Jennifer Price

Now, bear in mind the strengths of black and white photography. Without the addition of color, monochrome images rely more on the basics, the “bones” of a good photo: line, shape, form, tone, and texture.

Black and white images are typically simpler, with greater attention paid to the subject. Sometimes, a monochrome image can convey a look or mood better than its color counterpart.

a bridge in the snow
I like both the color and black and white versions of this shot and think either could be classified as fine art landscape photography.

5. Don’t be afraid to alter reality

So is purposely blurring scenes with intentional camera movement (ICM) and using special digital tools to give an image a “Painting” look.

Art is totally subjective, and so is fine art landscape photography.

How you choose to portray a scene is your prerogative, where the “right way” is whatever best communicates your feelings and message.

Photo by Nora Hutton on Unsplash

And trying to do different things with portraits tells a lot about your skills. The people you photograph are going to be surprised as you show them the print of them, in a different light. Usually all of my clients are saying that they didn’t think they could ever look so artistic.


Dentists all over the world are in shock…
They cannot believe that this primitive African ritual can rebuild teeth and gums overnight.

But, as unbelievable as it might sound, it is 100% medically efficient.

The solid proof is the fact that none of the people in this tribe have cavities or rotten gums, and their teeth are sparkling white.

Nobody believed that something so SIMPLE can bulletproof your teeth against decay, pain and inflammation. 

See here how this sacred African ritual can rebuild your teeth and gums overnight. Go to this link to learn more: https://49ad3qex260or9szlb538m8r2a.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=17935960

WE will have more tips on how to create “Fine Art” Photos in the future. This will be a future blog.

Most of this article was written by Rick Ohnsman, and also Lanny Cottrell from 123photogo contributed some photos as well as Rick Ohnsman. Thank you Rick for helping us to understand fine art.

1 thought on “IDEAS OF CREATING: FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY

  1. Pingback: PHOTOGRAPHY AS A SPORT: - 123PhotoGo123PhotoGo

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.