Image you’re out on a hike or a walk or just simply outside, and you see something so beautiful and breathtaking that you have to take a picture of it…but then, when you look at the picture later, it’s not how you remembered it? It’s duller and dimmer and does not capture the essence of that natural beauty you experienced. Has this ever happened to you?
This happens quite often, and it can be really frustrating– especially when you see the spectacular images that professional nature photographers can take. But the reality is that when you see luxury fine art photography, you aren’t looking at a simple snapshot. What you’re really seeing is the end result of a deliberate artistic process that transforms nature photography into luxury fine art.
Here’s how this type of nature photography goes beyond pointing and shooting to create something truly remarkable.
What Is Fine Art Photography?
Unlike other types of photography, fine art photography is about what the artist sees, not just what the camera sees. According to Ariel Wilson, professor of photography at Southern Methodist University, “fine art photography is the intentional use of photography as your artistic medium of choice, used to further your conceptual idea.”
In other words, fine art photography is the result of a series of aesthetic choices and intentionality. You cannot just point and shoot; you are not trying to capture a single moment in time. Instead, the fine art photographer’s goal is to deeply express their feelings and vision using the camera as a tool. A fine art photograph is an original and deliberate creation, and every aspect of it, from the choice of the shot in the field to the post-processing, are individual choices that serve to express the photographer’s creativity and emotions.
Fine Art Photography In Nature
Fine art nature photographers have multiple challenges to overcome while creating their art. First, they have to find the perfect spot for the image they want to capture. This can mean long hours of hiking over challenging terrain and sometimes in dangerous conditions.
For instance, if a fine art photographer wants to get to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon, it is a ten-mile hike through treacherous canyon terrain, and then another ten-mile hike to get back out. You must get a permit to visit, you must stay overnight and you have to carry all of your camping and photographic equipment with you.
Yet when you see the results, like the serenity captured in Garden of Eden, you can see why fine art nature photographers are willing to make this journey. Again, it’s about the vision and the artistic choices– not just what the camera sees.
Seeing The Light
Another challenge is waiting for just the right light. Nature photography is always at the mercy of natural lighting; unexpected cloud cover can change a shot dramatically. Sometimes you have to wait hours for the light to be perfect.
There are other lighting challenges, too. For instance, in Sculpted, the interplay of light and shadow on an Arizona slot canyon wall means that the camera had to capture a great deal of information. Once the perfect shot was captured, post-processing was necessary to reproduce the complexity and depth seen in the canyon itself.
Another important aspect of the fine art photographer’s artistic vision is the use of color. Both black and white and color images can tell powerful stories, and even when the image’s subject is the same, color can change everything about the way it is perceived.
For instance, let’s compare Fury and Fury - Monochrome. These images both capture the howling desert winds and the streaming sand of a wind-blown dune, but one does so in black and white and the other does so in color. Looking at these two images, what do they mean to you? How does the emotion change when the color drops out? What depths are hidden– or revealed– by the color choices?
Post-processing is a vital part of the fine art photographic process. Without it, the photographer’s vision is not fully recognized. But when the image is complete, those long hours of planning, hiking, waiting, shooting, and editing are worth it as the artist is fully able to express themselves in a piece of fine art photography.
Creating luxury fine art photography is a deliberate and expressive form of photography that differs dramatically from snapshot style photography. We hope that this article was informative and that you feel more informed the next time you look at a piece of fine art photography.