Since the invention of cameras, photographers have explored many genres. But the genre that relates close to art is conceptual photography. It is a form of photography that can capture ideas and transforms into a stage with uniqueness and originality.
It has been used since the advent of cameras but the term ‘conceptual or fine art photography’ came into use in the 1960s, when similar Conceptual Art came into existence. In short, conceptual photography revolves around ideas, themes, and symbols. It is an artistic method to express one’s thought and feeling via creative freedom.
Development of conceptual photography
Conceptual photography was first adopted as far back as the early twentieth century when photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz captured Marcel Duchamp’s – Fountain, for an exhibition in New York. Later many other artists explored it to transform their ideas into images. This later stepped into consumerism where conceptual photography entered advertising.
Since then conceptual photography has expanded into Hollywood as well where artists such as Cindy Sherman, and David LaChapelle experimented with this medium to create exceptional results. With time the range of topics included under these concepts has diversified hugely.
The methods used have also expanded as better cameras and editing software have become available. Now with the advent of the internet, social sites like Instagram and Flickr also enable their users to share their concepts.
Some tips to help you discover conceptual photography better:
Using Glass or water to produce effects
Reflections and water are perfect for conceptual photos as they can be used to create dramatic effects. You can use glass or any other kind of reflective material for reflection that can represent personality vs appearance, self-esteem, selfishness and many other important concepts of individual thinking.
While on the other hand water can be used other surreal effects. Using water is a dramatic concept as it can add depth to portraits. Especially underwater effects tend to emotional and heart-wrenching. You can use the rain, beaches, a waterfall, and even bathtubs if you don’t have any other source available.
Produce Surreal Photos using Motion Blur and Anonymity
Surreal is rare these days in photos but it is the most attractive form on conceptual photography. So to create such bizarre yet attractive images, you can use many techniques. One such way is using motion blur which makes your results look eerie and confusing. You can create it by experimenting with your camera.
You can either move your camera while pressing the shutter or make your subject move around. You can also utilize panning techniques. Another way to make your photos look distinct is to add Anonymity. With partly hidden faces, mysterious and moody aura, your pictures can become more relatable.
These touches can be added via editing program using a variety of textures, brushes and other resources.
Making subjects levitate
Conceptual images are used to represent stories. These can be magical and mesmerizing. To add such touches conceptual photography can be combined with levitation. This would result in beautiful fantasy-themed images.
Levitation of subjects especially people can reflect inner peace and act as a symbol of yearning for innovation and adventure. It can emphasize your love for the subject.
Defining time and loneliness
Conceptual Self-Portraits are best if they depict feelings especially those of past, restrictions, gloom, sadness, and loneliness. They are the best medium to express seclusion and time without words.
So you can use portraits to reflect experiences that associate with empty rooms, clocks, transformations, privacy, isolation, etc. Even though these photographs may hold a negative connotation, but in the conceptual genre, they are a source to display powerful emotions with skills.
They bring an understanding of human nature to another level. As both topics are such abstracting, they can encourage thought-provoking images. So experiment with such immortal concepts as well to add a unique touch.
Capturing the different levels of Healing
The most common form of conceptual photos is dark and moody images. These might look dull at first glance but they hold a lot of temperament behind them. They represent the power of healing at different stages.
From wounds, and scars to blood and sullenness, both emotional and physical pain can be your starting points. You will find many emotions in different forms to deploy this powerful concept. As everyone can relate to these universal experiences, this method is often used by conceptual photographers to make viewers feel understood and vulnerable simultaneously.
Street photography can be blended with conceptual photography to create mesmerizing results. There is no limitation on outdoor concepts. You don’t even need to come up with ideas. Sometimes, the outside surroundings are enough for fine art.
So take time and explore your surroundings. Find unusual, landscapes, buildings and vehicles. They can be your star subjects for upcoming conceptual pieces.
Fixate on the beauty of Decision-Making
Conceptual photos not only have to be appealing but hold thoughts as well. And the best way to do so is by capturing the struggles of life. To make Conceptual photography go on step ahead of impeccable editing and fancy equipment, you have to add beautiful composition.
It’s not the situation that makes an image meaningful. You can take expressive photos anywhere if you know have the eye for it. Just take moments of important decision-making and universal struggles and capture them such as healing, self-care, and loneliness. You will find them in a variety of forms. Look out for a plethora of obstacles and take them as inspiration for the next photo shoot.
Creative Otherworldly Portraits
Who says conceptual photography cannot be inspired by the otherworldly portrait. From taking on heaven, space, quirky costumes, and what not, conceptual and fine art photography can go any length. There is a lot to play with as David LaChapelle did.
He used unusual costumes, backgrounds, and themes you can make and turned a simple portrait into a surreal work of art. It was dramatic, grotesque, and beautiful and that is why his celebrity photo shoots were most-awaited and demanded.
They popped out from every angle that is why his works reveled in high-end values. So take a leaf from David LaChapelle’s book, and share his love for immense perfection and attention to detail with a dollop of creativity. Use his methods to elevate your shoots and emphasize on your ideas.
Using Children and Props to recreate the nostalgia
Conceptual photos should represent some emotions. They don’t need to be moody all the time. To add more love, ambition, and passion to it, use children and props. Children’s desires are vivid and can transform your whole image.
They can also help you instill a sense of nostalgia as childhood dreams are recreated. You can enhance your results by using clever concepts revolving around children and utilizing toys and adorable outfits as props. You can use your past as an abundance of original ideas and as an inspirational source.
Moreover, viewers will also enjoy looking at such photos as they are meaningful yet adorable photos. So you can combine both children and conceptual photography in one creative bowl and produce something mesmerizing. You will enjoy it as well.
Using nature for symbolizing freedom and innovation
In conceptual photography using nature blessings such as butterflies and flowers are ways to symbolize freedom and innovation. Not only do they add visual appeal to your photographs but also makes but also represent hope, soulfulness and make your photos look surreal and exotic.
If you cannot go out in nature, you can invest in realistic accessories to make your photos stand out.
Conceptual and fine art photography remains an integral part of the photography world. It is for all those who want to get out of their comfort zone and experience something new and unique beautifully. It allows photographers to contribute stories while expressing themselves to the world without using words.
So take out time to explore this amazing genre with the tips highlighted above. Gradually you will come with original ideas, and enhance your skills to produce images that touch emotions.