Taking photos that resonate and move people is the desire to create art. Therefore, it’s going to be all about your approach to the camera, pixels, and what type of subject floats your boat.
If you start investigating the photos and paintings of great artists — you can also learn a lot about how to make a simple everyday scene look fantastic from the Old Masters of painting.
The magic of art is its ability to create something astonishing out of everyday mundane life.
When you spend time studying photos or paintings, your mind will sop-up the ideas of how these photographers and artists handled light and darkness, colour tones, line, accents in the image that create emotional responses in you and other people.
I love to peruse the paintings of the Dutch Masters. Window paintings that express the beauty of draped clothing, pale northern tones, a jewel of light reflected, my mind spins off into a world of subtle colour and mysterious lines.
All of it is relevant to photography. The masters of oil can teach the student of pixelated cameras the art of seeing just as well as they did their own students.
Images beguile us and we call it art. Many of us chase art throughout life as if it were gold.
The image and the word are strange phenomena. A photo beguiles the mind like a beautiful jewel that holds some unknown secret. This causes us to search deeper into its subtle tones, gorgeous colour balance, and the composition that seems to represent some deeper meaning.
It speaks to the unconscious mind, we know this because we stop critical thinking and allow the colours and lines of an image to wrap itself around our thoughts.
We feel good about it — some people pay top money for such experiences.
It’s only when you talk to a critic about a masterpiece, or a great photo, that your mind disengages and starts to snore as they drone on about the aesthetic qualities of the piece. Avoid that, just bathe yourself in the experience of form and line and colour as a human experience that is edifying. Through this, you will learn and it will show up in your work.
Practise, and keep practising. Be positively self-critical of your work; “not a bad photo, but now I know how to make it even better”. Never think you are no good — that is self-sabotage in any area of life.
Simple honesty about how you achieved something that is moving and artful in the photo, and honesty about the bits that need attention and improvement. Then ask yourself how you can improve it; it’ll be the light, the colour, or maybe a technical fault that sticks out like a sore thumb. Get better through doing.
Use your camera on manual. If you use your camera set on automatic all of the time, and expect to photograph something as you see it, you will only get what the camera “sees”, and not what you see. That’s logical. Your photos will look like every other Canon 5D owner’s, or like other Sony owners.
Automatic settings are fine for commercial photographers, they are in a hurry to get the job done.
But if you want great photos, something that is art, then work with a free mind, not an automated tool.
The only way to be different than all the rest is to achieve as much individuality as possible — don’t automate processes, do it all by hand, adjust light and darkness, shutter speed, on the hoof, and in post-processing use the tools to get exactly the tone you want, experiment with going the “other way”, soften photos for more artistic finish, dampen colours, and work on trying to “pop” just one colour in the scheme of colour composition. This will push back other colours, and your image will look more interesting — and professional.
Working on manual allows you to approach each scene with your own set of rules, experiment with shadows as structures that help you find a frame for the main subject. Understand the difference between framing the shot, and creating a composition.
Practise framing and composition as two separate components that you must join together.
Don’t forget to shift your feet to create the best composition around the frame to get the shot.
Don’t look for rules that go, 1,2,3, etc. Photography is a practice and an art, not an academic practice of gathering rules and notes on “how to”.
Practice, experiment, and think deeply about your work, and you will start to see what you are looking for, you’ve