Photography is a huge industry, with multiple ramifications. There is product photography, fashion photography, wedding photography, wildlife photography and many other such styles that define different professions. Each style requires specific lenses, accessories and tools, thus needing relatively large investment in professional equipment.
Out of all these styles, art photography deserves a special place, as it doesn’t aim to be an accurate replica of real life, but rather an interpretation of it through the personal filter of the artist. This makes it visionary rather than representational, innovative rather than conservative, subjective rather than objective.
Like all other forms of art, photography is a transposition of the artist’s perceptions, thus being an excellent vehicle for carrying and sharing emotions. This is why you should never judge art photography by the same criteria as photojournalism or representational photography, as its purpose is radically different.
Young photographers who seek to specialize in one of the above mentioned styles need to be very careful which career path they choose. Art requires a huge dose of creativity, so you have to be inclined to think out of the box and find original ways of conveying a message or an emotion to your audience. This kind of work is extremely personal, yet you have to master the right techniques that enable you express yourself through images and visual representations that may have nothing to do with reality at observational level.
The young artist should try to find a model, a professional to learn from. This may require a lot of sacrifice, but all efforts are going to be well worth it by the end of your journey. Choosing the right teacher or coach is extremely important, as this choice is going to shape your artistic personality more than anything else. You may study millions of pages of books written by the greatest artists of all times, and still miss the real thing, the practice in the lab of your mentor or professional guide.
Once you master the basics, you have to seek for alternative ways to broaden your knowledge and your understanding of the world. You need practice. The more you work, the better you become. This should be your main guide in life, at least when it comes to improving your skill, your technique and your ability to make your audience experience certain feelings and emotions. You have to keep in mind that each of us has a personal perception of everything around, from basic items we use every day to paintings, movies, images and situations. You won’t be able to please everybody, so don’t even attempt to reach this level of perfection. You have to do your best to convey your perceptions, and carefully watch the feedback from your audience. If you see tears in the corner of their eyes, you can be sure your art has made a strong impact on these people. This should be a reward and a sign that you are on the right track. You need to be as flexible as your art, to learn and improve with each and every minute that passes, with each and every new artwork you produce.
These being said, you shouldn’t imagine artistic photography is only a dream, thus not needing to follow any rules or guidelines. You still need to know the composition rules, the framing and focusing techniques and the post-processing software that would enable you express yourself through your art. Processing your images is essential, so you have to dedicate a lot of time to understanding your software tools. This is the prosaic side of your art you have to master in order to be able to unleash your creativity and create outstanding images that would impress millions of viewers.
Equipment is the other big secret great artists have in common. You can’t create amazing art by using low quality tools, cheap lenses and poor lights. Awesome portraits are only possible when you use the right lenses and the most appropriate light for this type of shooting. You may not feel like investing so much money in a high quality short prime lens, but you’d be absolutely wrong. The quality of the glass has a direct influence on the chromatic and distortion aberrations, so it’s in your best interest to buy the highest quality equipment possible.
Photography done as a fine art requires passion, time, dedication and a good budget to invest in the best equipment and accessories. Once you have this foundation, you can go ahead and build on it, pursuing your your visions and sharing them with the world through your precious gift which is your artistic nature. The line between great artists and average one is so thin that it’s quite hard to see most of the time. Yet, your hard work, grit and creativity can get you there.