The Trick to Making Your Photos Fine Art

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When you take a photo, ultimately, the hope is that it's worthy of hanging on your wall.

But creating an image that's worthy of hanging on your wall is a bit easier said than done, especially if you want your photo to be in the realm of fine art.

According to Wikipedia, fine art is defined as:

A visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.

But that definition can be applied to photography, too.

So what does it take to turn your photos into fine art? Let's find out...

You Need a Unique Vision

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Part of what sets a fine art photograph apart from an everyday photo is that there's a vision for the image and an underlying idea that tells a story.

When it comes to vision, that simply means that you have to have a plan for creating the image and execute that plan to record the scene in a way that fulfills your goals.

For example, if you want to create a stunning photo of a flower, you have to determine ahead of time what that will look like.

On the one hand, you could go for a bright, happy, and vibrant representation of a flower, as is typical of that sort of subject.

But fine art photos often have an alternative view that make them more compelling, like the dark, almost sad treatment of the flower images above and below.

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Moreover, that vision should be based on an idea that tells a story, which conveys an emotion or triggers something in the viewer.

In other words, a fine art image makes peoplefeelsomething.

Your images don't have align with an idea that's profound to elicit an emotion, either.

Something as simple as a theme of "happiness" or "solitude" can tell a compelling story that makes a viewer feel something when they gaze upon the photo. Again, the image above triggers a feeling of loneliness, something that's quite simple yet very powerful.

The point is that the more meaningful the image is, the more memorable it will be, and those are the types of photos that tend to fall into the fine art category.

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The Image Should Be Technically Perfect

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Fine art photos are seldom happy accidents.

Instead, they are typically the result of a lot of hard work and effort on the part of the photographer.

And this hard work occurs on many levels:

  • Planning - Devise a step-by-step plan for capturing the image you envision, including selecting the ideal subject, choosing a shoot location, and devising compositional choices that enhance the ability of the image to trigger a feeling in viewers.
  • Composition - The image should have a strong subject, supporting elements that add depth, dimension, and character, and features that help viewers engage with the photo in a way that elicits an emotion, as discussed above. 
  • Lighting - Lighting is often key to the success or failure of an image. Whether you work with natural or artificial lighting, work to maximize its impact such that the image isn't just well-exposed, but that it also has interesting areas of light, shadow, and contrast to delight the eye.
  • Sharpness - No matter how beautiful the photo is, if it isn't perfectly sharp, it won't have optimal visual appeal.

You can see these elements at work in the images above and below.

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The first image is perfectly fine, but it lacks much visual impact.

The lighting isn't all that great, and the composition suffers from the distracting foreground elements that frame the shot.

The colors just aren't that vibrant either, even though the subjects are bright pink.

But the second image has tons of visual appeal because it was planned and executed to perfection.

The composition benefits from the frame being filled with the birds and the use of a dark background helps the color of their feathers pop.

Notice as well how the lighting enhances the shape of the birds and helps highlight them against the dark background.

None of those features "just happened," either!

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The Presentation Matters, Too

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Let's say you have a beautiful photo that was planned and executed to perfection. It tells a story, triggers an emotion, and brings your creative vision to life.

Then let's assume you have the image printed as an 8x10, you frame it, and hang it on your wall.

All that hard work and attention to detail will be lost in such a small print, don't you think?

In other words, fine art photography is meant to be presented in a way that enhances its details, reaches out to viewers, and knocks their socks off.

You aren't going to accomplish that with a measly 8x10 paper print...

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It's certainly popular to have fine art images printed in large format because then the image becomes the focal point it should be.

And in recent years, printing on substrates like metal and acrylic has become popular amongst the fine art crowd.

As a matter of fact, as I was formulating the idea for this post, I got a notice in my inbox that one of my favorite new printers, Artbeat Studios, has just released their HD Acrylic 360 Prints.

When I saw it, I immediately thought, "Now that's fine art!"

Their HD Acrylic 360 prints have a 1/4-inch sheet of acrylic on the front and a 1/8-inch sheet of acrylic on the back, giving the image a clear, vibrant, museum-quality look.

The fact that the image is printed on high-resolution archival Epson Metallic Photo Paper with Epson Archival Inks helps, too.

The photo is face-mounted onto the acrylic, ensuring that the vibrance of its colors come shining through. And the icing on the cake is that Artbeat Studios diamond polishes the edges that adds an incredible finish to the final product.

If you don't believe me, see the process in action in the video above!

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Wrapping It Up

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As I noted earlier, there's a lot that goes into taking a photo and transforming it into fine art.

Having a solid vision for the photo, creating something that's as close to technically perfect as possible, and presenting it in a way that's eye-catching are certainly three cornerstones of making something that can be considered fine art.

The first two are clearly under your control, but the third isn't.

By that I mean that you depend on the printer to help you complete your vision, which means you have to carefully select who you work with to bring your image to life.

Artbeat Studios has been a go-to for photographers that want professional prints that are full of life, and their new HD Acrylic 360 prints will certainly continue in that tradition.

If you want to create fine art photography, see what they have to offer. I know I will!

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