Conceptual and Fine Arts Photography Tips

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Isn’t it surprising that the slightest change in technique and following a few tips and tricks can step-up conceptual and fine arts photography to a new level?

Indeed, it is!

Fine arts and conceptual photography are considered somewhat difficult and tricky compared to photojournalism, documentary, or commercial photography.

But in reality, it isn’t. If you are good at paying attention to details and envisioning artistic results, you can do wonders in these two photography genres.

This article will talk about some simple and practical tips to step-up your conceptual and fine arts photography. But first, for those who don’t know, let’s see what these two genres are:

What is Conceptual and Fine Arts Photography?

In simple terms, fine arts photography is where you are an artist as a photographer, and photography is the medium for you to express your art.

This genre is as commercial as any other genre of photography, the only difference is that it involves visioning, creative approach, and expressions more.

Fine arts fashion photography

It overlaps with several other fields of photography such as fashion photography.

On the other hand, as the name shows, Conceptual Photography is based on a concept, idea, symbol, or theme.

A conceptual photographer makes an abstract idea to speak via a visual.

Initially, it was used only to illustrate an idea, but as time passed, now it also involves photography to document performances, conceptual art, ephemeral sculpture, or actions.

Most of the time these two are confused with each other. Simply, all conceptual photography is fine arts work but not all fine arts photography is conceptual.

Conceptual photography is a narrower field of the broader field of fine arts photography.

Commercially, this niche of photography is very successful for quality content creators.

Research shows that the yearly income of fine arts photographers range from $14,197 to $382,921 (average $69,208).

The middle 57% of Fine Art Photographers makes between $69,208 and $173,732, with the top 86% making over $380,000.

Tips for Better Fine Arts and Conceptual Photography Results

Here are 15 tips, helpful to every fine arts photographer; from beginner to a professional one:

1. Have a Clear Vision in your Mind

A clear vision holds a primary spot in these genres of photography. You can become a top-class fine arts photographer without a professional degree, but you cannot achieve even second-grade results with the nebulous theme.

Be very clear in your mind what you want results to look like. Brainstorm an idea.

Go through other work before deciding a theme of your work. Develop an artist statement for your project and then choose locations and subjects according to it.

Conceptual woman portrait

2. Make only One Subject Focus of your Project

Using several subjects at a time can vague the message or vision you want to convey. You can choose a single subject and do experimentation with it to show your creativity.

To highlight the subject, keep the background as simple as possible. Avoid too many contemporary details and distractions in the background.

Instead, focus on being creative with your subject and try to convey the theme through it.

You can experiment with makeup, costumes, lighting, camera settings, props et cetera.

3. Use Colors to Demonstrate Mood of your project

Get out of black and white and experiment with different colors. In fact, you can use colors and grading styles as a theme of your project and differentiate your work from others.

Use them to evoke emotions and convey your message. For example, blue shows calmness and cold temperatures, warm tones show positive feelings.

Contrasting colors add dramatic effects. Do not bound yourself to a single tone.

4. Experiment with Setting of Your Camera

The more you understand the features and settings of your camera, the more brilliant your outcome can be.

Test out the camera in different settings in different situations—experience with motion blur, shutter speed, brightness level, white balance, and color temperatures.

Experimentation can be a great way to produce a masterpiece in fine arts photography.

Master the art of composition. Learn the rule of thirds (and then break it in an artistic way to add creativity). Understand the elements of the exposure triangle.

5. Set Your Imagination Free

Fine arts, especially conceptual photography, is all about how you envision things and process them.

The difference between an artistic mind and an average mind is imagination.

Do not stick to one style!

Experiment with new and out of box ideas to bring your concept to life.

Conceptual photography - special effects

6. Analyze the Work of Other Photographer

This might come as a surprise to you, but analyzing a photographer’s work and techniques in this industry is a great way to develop an authentic vision.

It is common among artists to struggle sometimes with vision. Looking at the work of others can be a great way to tackle this artist’s block. It also helps in finding brilliant ideas, subject to focus, or an inspiration to develop a personal style.

It does not mean that you should blindly imitate the style of others. You can also combine inspiration from their work with your personal experience or imagination to do wonders.

7. Invest in Photography Equipment of this Genre

Using accessories and equipment in photography can make a real difference.

For example, a professional photographer can easily tell the difference between photography with or without a tripod.

If you are in the genre of fine arts photography, consider investing in the equipment.<-Affiliate link 🙂

This genre doesn’t require too much equipment but small things can make much difference.

And just investing in equipment is not enough. Try to understand the working mechanism of everything at your disposal to use these tools better to convey your idea.

8. Prefer a Location with Meaning

Using a meaningful location is a good way to convey a message with more clarity.

Choose a location following the theme of your project. For example, you can choose the ocean if the theme is calm, church/mosques if the theme is spirituality, etc., with a meaningful location.

You do not have to struggle much to convey the theme.

Woman underwater

9. Do Experiments in Post Production

The editing time can be a real game-changer. You can add lots and lots of special effects to change the overall look of your photograph.

For example, if you shoot in color and then turn it into black and white in post-production, you will have two pictures of the same thing with a totally different look.

From adjusting the contrast to changing the temperature of colors, you can do a lot in post-production to achieve whatever you envisioned.

10. Connect with Fellow Artists

From Local artist communities to online forums of fine arts photographers, there are several mediums where you can connect with fellow artists.

You can discuss ideas with them, learn techniques and tips, collaborate, get their reviews and opinions, and cross-promote each other’s work for mutual benefit.

11. Develop Seeing Skills

Open your mind to seeing everything around to get an idea or inspiration.

If you stick to old inspirations, you will keep producing images in the same manner, and soon your work will get boring and monotone.

12. Develop a Technique

This is not a do-and-die thing, but developing a personal or signature technique can differentiate your work from others.

All big names of industry experiment with different things, but you can notice a pattern among the same photographer’s work, differentiating it from others.

13. Make Brainstorming your Friend

These genres of photography are all about ideas and visions. Brainstorm as much as possible. Pen down the ideas.

Evaluate your own idea and work—practice relating your feelings whenever you encounter a potential subject around you.

Use imagination to relate different messages which a subject can reflect. These simple exercises can polish your artistic vision.

14. Use Symbols

Symbols are a good way to express a lot without much effort.

Not only these symbols are usually universal. For example, if you are using the watch, the universal audience will perceive and relate it with time.

15. Keep Your Message Simple

Interpretation of a fine art image can vary from viewer to viewer, but it does not mean that your image can be as difficult to understand as cracking a code.

Keep things simple and understandable for everyone. A viewer can lose interest in your work if he has to put effort into understanding your work.

Some ways to add simplicity to your work are keeping the background plain and avoiding contemporary subjects in the background as much as possible.

As aforementioned, experiment with the object instead of its background.

Final Words

These are a few simple techniques, but each tip can step up your fine arts and conceptual photography.

Just grab a camera, <-Affiliate link 🙂 envision, follow these techniques, and make unique ideas to speak via your photography.

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