Imaginary to Imagery – Building a Fine Art Photo.

You know… I had the idea for this post a couple of days ago, and I’ve written about six different drafts in my head that all sounded lovely and made perfect sense. And now? I don’t know where to start. But, I guess the beginning usually works so we’ll start there.

1. Inspiration.

Everything starts with inspiration and I can not express how important inspiration is. Personally, in order to create, I need to feel the need to create, and in order for that, I need to be incredibly inspired.

Inspiration is something that is endless as long as you let it be. Be inspired by everything around you. All of your emotions, the good ones and the bad ones, let yourself be immersed and let yourself absorb it until you’re almost busting at the seams and you want nothing more than to create.

So, figure out what particularly inspires you. Sorrow, colors, nature. Then surround yourself with it – always. If you’re always inspired, you’re always creating.

2. “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

Firstly, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the God that is Ansel Adams. Hold on. Not yet. One day I’m going to make a post about my great admiration for Ansel Adams. But that day is not today so onward!

I’ve said before that sometimes it’s incredibly healthy and fine to think up your story as you’re going along with it. Letting it come to you as the photo begins to come to life. And it is. However, I get the most inspired when I have a clear concept in mind already when I go out to shoot. Let’s take this photo for example:

stardust soul
This was one of the magical times where a photo actually ended up turning a lot like how I pictured it in my mind. I grabbed the idea from one of three that I had. I sketched them out (ever, ever so poorly) and really tried to figure out which one would represent what I wanted to portray the most.

IMG_0881

This can be the most fun and also the most… frustrating? I think that’s the right word. That’s kind of exactly what it’s like sometimes, though. You have this clear photo in mind but figuring out the concept behind it is like when you can’t figure out what word fits the best. It’s right there and you can see it but you just can’t say it. That’s why sometimes it’s okay to skip. While a fuzzy concept isn’t exactly bueno, a half-hearted one might even be worse.

3. Get yourself ready.

I don’t mean get ready as in do your hair and makeup (unless you want to I mean hey it’s your photo), I mean get in the mood. For me, if I’m shooting in my room against a black sheet or something of the sort, I normally stretch beforehand. Just something quick, something to relax me and put me in a state of mind that’s calm and creative. I stretch, put on some Ben Howard, and then immerse myself in a world that I’m creating from the ground up.

When it comes to on-location shoots, I don’t bother doing anything. Those are always a little more hectic and fun, so submersing into that environment is easy.

So maybe what you need to do to get ready are push ups, or ballet, or jumping around in your underwear. Just find what makes you get in the mood to create. Maybe you’re a friggin’ powerhouse who doesn’t need to do anything at all. And if so, I say kudos and I look forward to when you take over the world.

4. Execute.

I’ve found that the longer I sit on ideas, the more stagnant they become. I start to over think them, the ideas become dull, or they just get pushed to the way side in general. Don’t let that happen. After you figure out what you’re doing, just do it.

Seriously. Do it. Jump up and do it. Do it with passion and vigor. Don’t have a model? Use yourself. The location is too far? Hey guess what… your room is a location.

That’s actually another thing I wanted to touch base on. Any room where natural light is filtering in through windows is absolutely perfect – and, bonus, you don’t have to wait for magic hour! If your wall is painted or textured or something just tack up a bed sheet! I’m obsessed with bed sheets and I’m sure there’s a post coming sometime soon about their multiple purposes.

So you’re doing it. You’re shooting and creating something magical and extraordinary, and that’s the most important part. If you’re doing it and you’re passionate about it – congratulations. You’ve completed the art of anything. Please continue doing it if it makes you happy.

~

All in all, building a fine art photograph isn’t hard. It’s four steps so self explanatory you don’t even need a blog post to tell you how to do it. But sometimes what we need reminding of is the importance of the smaller things. Like allowing yourself to be inspired at all times, and to take the bad things in your life and turn them into something beautiful.

Once again, I quote Ansel Adams, “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.

A bit of you goes into everything you make. Just as they say that every joke has a hint of truth, I believe the same to be true with all things considered fiction if it’s coming from a place inside you. Whether you’re aware of it or not. Let it happen. Let everything flow.

When it comes to fine art photography, you’re taking something so bare and natural and turning it into something passionate and lively. If you don’t let yourself be inspired and take concepts and purpose from what’s surrounding you, you won’t learn how to find beauty in the bad or how to make the best even better.

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