5 things a photographer should learn from arts

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Sarah Saratonina
May 6, 2016 By Sarah Saratonina
5 things a photographer should learn from arts www.sleeklens.com

Some people can say photography is not art. They say you don’t need a special talent to be a photographer, you just need a camera then photography can’t be art or everybody with a smartphone should be an artist!

Photography is the most accessible of the arts
Photography is the most accessible of the arts

As I wrote in my first post, I believe you have to make some decisions when you take a picture, so, for me, photography is a kind of art. Probably the most accessible of the arts, I know. But I also do believe there are some documental photos that are not art at all, like the picture of your driver’s license or the photo of a car accident in the newspaper. Art or not, to make a high-quality photo you need to know a lot of things about photography gear and software and visual language.

In the present post, I write about what a photographer should know about art. It is a huge theme and I will try to be simple. There are many types of other visual arts, probably one of the first types of visual arts that come in our minds is the painting. But we can also find other types of visual arts like sculpture, ceramics, printmaking and drawing. And I guess the most popular visual arts nowadays are the video and filmmaking. Television, Netflix, and Hollywood are constant in our lives. 🙂

When you decide to take a picture, I believe you are making more than just an image because you can also make a piece of art. So let’s think about what you should know from arts to improve the quality of your photography.

1 – Know your camera and other instruments very well

A painter knows every brush he owns. He or she has different kinds of paper to choose, and there are many kinds of ink to use, like oil paint, watercolor or gouache and each of them needs different techniques of painting.

Make up brushes for different purposes
Makeup brushes for different purposes

So, as a photographer, you need to know every function and modes of your camera. Maybe you will need more than a camera or lenses for different purposes, like sports or to take pictures of the sky. And obviously, you need to know how equipment to choose for each situation and know every equipment you use.

You may say, “I can fix it in Photoshop”. But as a photographer who took more than 300,000 pictures, I can tell you: it is always better to take the best photo you can, instead of spending a lot of time trying to fix it on your computer later. A great picture in the camera has much more potential to be an awesome image with postproduction work than a bad picture in the camera. I use edition programs like Lightroom just to make fine adjustments in my photos, like contrast, alignment or cut. And for artistic purposes, we can use a preset of Sleeklens, of course.

2 – Lighting

As a photographer, you need to know everything about light. Light is a primary input for any photographer. Basically, a wrong light could destroy your photo. If there is no enough light, your photo will be too dark and you can see anything. Or if there is too much light, you can lose information in some white portions of the photo or in the photo as a role.

Light adds drama to your photos
Light adds drama to your photos

A right light can make your photo looks like a dream. As the correct light in an actor on the stage can make our feelings change when we see a play or as we can see in the Caravajo’s paints, the light can add drama to your photo and you can express emotions in your picture with the correct use of the light.

And again: in some cases, you can fix the light on your computer, but I strongly recommend you take the best picture you can and just make fine adjustments to the exposure of the pictures. For example, I appreciate very clear and bright pictures but this is a very personal preference.

And the light is so important to make artistic photos that you can find many Lightroom presets in the Sleeklens site.

3 – Composition

The composition rules were developed by professional painters of the century 16. They used geometric concepts like the Fibonacci ideas to define the best way to dispose of the elements in a rectangular frame. They wanted to produce more sophisticated paintings than the amateur painters. This is curious because many centuries later, professional photographers also use the composition rules to make more sophisticated photos than amateurs photographers. That is, painters and photographers use distinct techniques to produce images but they have very similar ways to see the world.

The subject in the center of the frame
Sometimes to put the subject in the center of the frame is an interesting option

When you travel, you may take a picture with your daughter in the center of the photo or you can compose a photo with the rule of thirds and put your daughter on the left or in right side of the photo.

The subject in the left side of the frame
The subject on the left side of the frame to follow the Rule of the Thirds

The best option for the line of the ocean is in one of the thirds if we follow the Golden Ratio or Rule of the Thirds. That is, we have to avoid the ocean line in the center of the frame.

IMG_8010_mini
Following the rule of the thirds, the ocean line must be in one of the thirds of the frame, never in the middle of the image

And my favorite is the strong diagonal. I mean, the real strong diagonal: this is not just turning a centralized photo to the right or to the left to make a fake diagonal.

A real strong diagonal
A real strong diagonal

You can find a valuable explanation about composition in this post.

4 – Color

There are many psychological theories about the power of colors in our mood and many theories about how we can choose the colors of ours photos, one of the most known is Bauhaus and the primary colors. And you can find a special series of three posts about colors in the blog of Sleeklens

I am a big fan of colors
I am a big fan of colors

I am a BIG fan of colors. And colors in similar tones are one of my favorite subjects.

And I also like to make color combinations, of course.

I love to play with colors

And I also like to make color combinations, of course.

Yellow pears in a green bowl on a purple background
Yellow pears in a green bowl on a purple background

I know many photographers who prefer black and white photos. As most of our cameras make color photos, you have to convert them to a black and white version and it can be complicated. You have to know the difference between black and white and shades of gray to get the better results.

There are many Sleeklens products to enhance the colors of your photos.

5 – Persistence

A sculptor needs years to develop all his potential and apply in his works. How many years are necessary to learn to transform a rock into a three-dimensional human figure? I can imagine it is not easy even without tried.

I guess sculpture is not easy!
I guess sculpture is not easy!

Or a musician needs many years of training before to play with an orchestra. And that great ballerina started to learn to make her spins before to learn to write.

IMG_4978_mini
How many years of practice are needed to learn to play the violin?

And a photographer maybe will need thousands of shots to be a great photographer. As Bresson said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Practice is necessary to be a great photographer.

Never give up. Do your best until you get satisfied. Try a new camera position, go to different locations to take a better shot. Borrow lenses from a friend, try new techniques like the time-lapse or light painting. Play with the rules or change the place of the lights. And always try new Sleeklens tutorials.

And be prepared to think your today’s favorite picture is a piece of garbage tomorrow because as an artist, you are in constant change and development. 😉

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Sarah Saratonina
I've studied photography in a one year vocational course in 2011 at Fullframe Escola de Fotografia, in Sao Paulo. And I also studied in a photography lato sensu post graduation course between 2013 and 2014 at Senac São Paulo. I'm working as a freelancer photographer since 2012.

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