Light and Shadow: Two Powerful Photography Tools

Quality photography relies heavily on light. The very meaning of the word “photography” underlines the importance of finding the perfect lighting balance, as it stems from two Greek words: “phos” (meaning light) and “graphis” (which translates into drawing). But despite the fact that most photographers would argue endlessly over the fact that lighting is everything, there is exquisite creative potential in the lack of this highly praised element.

Though often overlooked, shadows can only exist in the presence of light. Oxymoronic, I know, but light would be nothing were it not for the shadows it casts. Learning how to manipulate shadows and seamlessly incorporate them into your composition is an essential element of any photographer’s skillset.

A photograph of a bicycle casting a shadow on the wall

With that in mind, grab your camera, at least one subject and let’s get started!

The Importance of Shadows

We have to stop thinking of shadows as mere dark masses bordering the light. For without shadows, there would be nothing to draw attention to the light we speak so highly of. When correctly using shadows, photographers discover unique opportunities. Before getting down and dirty with techniques you are not familiar with, make sure to visit the exhibitions of experienced photographers and draw inspiration from there.

Creating context and adding drama to a composition is one of the main uses of shadows. Viewers are naturally drawn to areas in your picture where high tonal contrasts exist and such contrasts are impossible without shadows. As such, light by itself could never be able to create the subtle nuances that shadows make possible.

Beautiful composition of the sun shining through the branches of a tree. The branches cast shadows on the snow.

This exquisite photograph, for instance, perfectly uses the juxtaposition shadows and sepia tones to add warmth to an otherwise chilly winter day.

Apart from creating contrast, shadows also allow photographers to focus a viewer’s attention to what is most important in the composition. On the one hand, shadows can be manipulated to remove irrelevant details from portions of the photograph that aren’t as important as others.

Shadow photography portrait showcasing a beautiful model whose face is contoured by cones of shadow.

This photographs creates a striking contrast between the model’s eyes and the rest of her features, which are hidden in cones of shadows falling at different angles.

Photographers can also use shadows to highlight the model’s qualities: from the striking innocence of a child’s face to the subtle sensuality of a female model, everything lies in correct positioning and the artist’s unique view.

two shadow portraits of an innocent child and a sensual woman, both highlighted by correct shadow placement

Another exquisite use of shadow allows photographers to reveal texture. Such images are obtained when the illuminating body (in most cases the sun) is found at a low angle to the horizon, so as to cast shadows across the terrain. Such compositions allow for the textures of certain objects to be emphasized.

use of shadow photography to highlight sand texture

Correctly Including Shadows in Your Composition

Photographing shadows isn’t the easiest task, especially since most settings will cause the targeted shadows to come out too light. Capturing shadows involves a series of tweaks which may contradict a camera’s essential purpose (which is to expose the film to enough light to make the detail visible).

So when you’ve set your mind on shadow photography, be sure to:

  • Switch from automatic to manual mode. Not a beginner photographer’s best friend, manual mode allows you to set the aperture time, ISO value and shutter speed. As such, you are in full control of what your camera is capturing. Beginners may copy the values from these settings from those used by your automatic mode. Tweak and alter each individual setting to identify precisely what you need.
  • Use the exposure lockdown feature when available. DSLR cameras often include an exposure lock feature in their settings menu. Experiment with this feature to include that part of your scene which doesn’t lie in the shadow and use the automatic exposure calculators to obtain exposed highlights contrasting with deep shadows.
  • Consider exposure value compensation. Digital cameras allow photographers to quickly assess their work and if your composition seems to be too bright, slight exposure value tweaks may correct the issue. Lower exposure values to deepen shadows or increase it if your composition is too dark.
  • Bracketing helps. An alternative is to bracket your image by taking successive shots at different exposures. Although high-range cameras (and several mid-range ones) include BKT buttons which have this feature build in, you can achieve the same results with lower-range cameras by simply using manual mode and taking different shots at alternating exposure value compensations.

Tips and Tricks for Shadow Photography

Now that we’ve gotten the technical aspects out of the way, let’s discuss some tips to help you with your creative process. Shadows are excellent starting points especially when you lack a muse.

With that in mind, please remember that a shadow is not the same thing as a silhouette. While silhouettes represent the outline or the dark shape of a specific object or being against a lighter background, shadows represent the shapes or areas formed when objects come between the illuminating body and a surface.

Most photographers find their inspiration looking up or around, so paying attention to the sidewalk or the ground will be a new experience, especially if you haven’t worked with shadows before. But, though unsurprising, you’re only going to find shadows on the ground or against walls. Start actively searching for shadows and seeking inspiration in places yet undiscovered.

stunning contrast between the shadows cast by the building's columns and the girl dancing between them

The human eye enjoys symmetry and shadow patterns create unique compositions which are particularly appealing. Combining shadows and patterns can yield sublime results, so shift angles and experiment with positions to see whether you can capture interesting patterns.

Monochrome and black-and-white compositions are also a good option especially when the shadow you’re photographing is the center-piece of your composition. By removing the colors which would otherwise compete with your viewer’s perception, you’re setting yourself up for great results. Strong, graphical shapes fare best in monochrome, especially when captured from unexpected angles.

Numerous artists have played with shadow compositions. Denis Buchel, for instance, recently won an award for his divine composition focusing on Istanbul’s dim sunset light and the long, converging shadows cast by the people and trees it encountered.

stunning photograph of a hot Istanbul day with converging shadows

Shadow photography is a subtle art and requires a trained hand. It will take time to learn precisely how to incorporate the various elements, shapes and textures to obtain the perfect picture, so give yourself the time to get there. And allow yourself to experiment (even when the experiments don’t produce the results you’d expect). It’s all part of the learning process!

Photo credits: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Top 10 Fashion Photographers

Both intriguing and gutty, fashion photographers have challenged the concept of beauty over generations and continue to redefine visual art in the fashion industry. Here at Virtual Photography Studio we want to bring into the open the work of successful professional photographers from various niches and places around the globe. After starting with a top selection of travel photographers, here are 10 fashion photographers worth knowing about.

Name: Alessio Bolzoni

Location: Paris, France

Bio: Born in Crema, in 1979, Alessio Bolzoni is an Italian fashion and editorial photographer whose work has been featured in Marie Claire, Office Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar UK, Elle US, Grey Magazine, Numero, Lurve magazine and many more.

Alessio Bolzoni fashion photographer

His photography captures a sense of drama and movement as street art and cinematography are his sources of inspiration. Bolzoni is definitely one of the avant-garde fashion photographer of these days, mixing high style with simplicity. The result – an unusual elegance.

Website: Alessio Bolzoni Photography

Name: Alessandro Dal Buoni

Location: London, UK

Bio: Italian born, Alessandro Dal Buoni is a fashion photographer based in London. He shoots for multiple magazines. To mention just a few: L’Officiel Hommes China, GQ Japan, Amica, L’Officiel Hommes Germany, AnOther Man, Hunter, D Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Mixte Hommes, Rolling Stone, V and V Man. Dal Buoni works with clients like Dior, Yohji Yamamoto, Roberta Furlanetto, KRISVANASSCHE, among others.

Alessandro dal Buoni Photography

© Alessandro dal Buoni Photography

His style is extremely versatile, but as a trademark there’s a sense of purity and grace in everything he captures.  He acknowledges Frantisek Drtikol, George Platt Lynes and Robert Mapplethorpe as the photographers who inspire him the most.

Website: Alessandro Dal Buoni Photography

 

Name: Sebastian Kim

Location: New York City, NY

Bio: Born in Vietnam and raised in three very different corners of the world – Iran, France and Southern California – Sebastian Kim is a renowned fashion and editorial photographer. He immersed in the world of fashion photography as an assistant of Richard Avedon and Steven Meisel.

Sebastian Kim fasgion photographer

Kim has collaborated with many famous publications such as Harper’s Bazaar UK, Vogue, Numero, and The New York Times. His fame grew tremendously after having worked with top fashion designers like Calvin Klein, John Galliano, Nina Ricci and Alexander Wang.

Kim’s shooting style is described as sexy and glamorous, yet tasteful.

Website: Sebastian Kim Photography

 

Name: Andrea Klarin

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Bio: Born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, Andrea is a fashion photographer, currently on the crest of the wave. Based in Brussels, he travels the world to work for clients like Vogue, Gloss, Flaunt, Harper’s Bazaar, Wallpaper, Madame Figaro and TANK magazines, as well as advertising clients such as Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Guerlain, Swarowski, Lanvin, L’Oreal, Nike, Longchamps and Canon.

Andrea Klarin, fashion photographer, and Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol and Andrea Klarin

With an obsession for perfection, his photographs are meant to redefine beauty by capturing a contemporary mood based on light, shapes, shadows and textures.

Website: Andrea Klarin Photography

 

 

Name: Steven Klein

Location: New York City, NY

Bio: Steven Klein is an acclaimed American photographer. His passion for photography began at the age of 10. Although he studied painting, he started building his career in photography as soon as he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Brad Pitt Photo Taken by Steven Klein, fashion photographer, for Interview Magazine

Brad Pitt by Steven Klein for Interview Magazine

Highly provocative and subversive, his photographic style brought him to the attention of major brands in the fashion world. Klein has shot for clients like Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, contributed regularly to magazines like Vogue, i-D, Numéro, W and Arena. He is mostly known for his editorials with Madonna and Brad Pitt.

Klein has also created vibrant images of iconic music artists, such as Britney Spears, Rihanna and Lady Gaga. His photographs are eclectic, sexual and inspiring.

Website:Steven Klein Studio

 

Name: Nick Knight

Location:

Bio: Born in London, United Kingdom, Nick Knight is one of most imaginative and influential photographers in the fashion industry. Over the years he has worked for leading designers including Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Lancôme, Levi Strauss and Yves Saint Laurent. Nick Knight also shot for high-profile brands like Audi and Mercedes Benz, challenging not only the conventions of fashion media, but also the conventional notion of a fashion photographer.

Famous fashion photographer Nick Knight

Among his prestigious clients, it is worth mentioning British Vogue, Paris Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Another Man and I-D magazines.

Apart from photography, he is also a renowned filmmaker. He shot videos for artists like Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Gwen Stefani, Massive Attack and Bjork. His style is thought to be experimental, and progressive, or, in another words, at the edge of the avant-garde. He continues to create visionary content on his own fashion website SHOWstudio.com.

Website: Nick Knight Photography

 

Name: Annie Leibovitz

Location: New York City, NY

Bio: Annie Leibovitz is one of the most famous female American photographers of all times. Born in Connecticut, she is a third-generation American with family roots in Romania and Estonia. While studying painting at the San Francisco Institute, she discovered photography and started working for the Rolling Stones magazine. In 1973 she became the magazine’s chief photographer, shooting no less than 142 covers in ten years, including the iconic embrace of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon was shot dead five hours after the photo shooting, making Leibovitz’s photograph a memorable moment in the history of visual art.

Annie Leibovitz American fashion photographer

She then collaborated with Vanity Fair, shooting the pregnant Demi Moore, Lady Gaga, President Barack Obama, and more recently, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Leibovitz’s portraits are dramatic, provocative and highly influential.

Website: Annie Leibovitz Photography

 

Name: Mert & Marcus

Location: London, UK

Bio: Mert & Marcus is the name of two fashion photographers working together, both born in 1971 and influenced by the renowned fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are some of the leading photographers in fashion today.

They worked for top publications like Vogue, W Magazine, Pop Magazine, Numero. High-profile brands like Louis Vuitton, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi, Kenzo, and Miu Miu are just some of their major clients.

Mert & Marcus fashion photographers

Mert & Marcus are known for a creative and innovative use of digital technology. But what keeps them ahead of the game is their exuberant and sophisticated photography. Their style is highly aesthetic, unconventional and, sometimes, hyperreal.

Website: Mert & Marcus Photography

 

 

Name: Paolo Roversi

Location: Paris, France

Bio: Italian-born fashion photographer, Paolo Roversi is now based in Paris. His love for photography came early, in 1964, while on vacation with his family in Spain. After returning back home, he set up a darkroom and began developing his own black and white work. Years later, he started working as a reporter until he was discovered by the British photographer Lawrence Sackmann.

Paolo Roversi Italian fashion photographer

After nine month of apprenticeship with Sackmann, Roversi started working on his own as a fashion photographer, shooting for Elle, Depeche Mode and Marie Claire. He has created ads for Armani, Dior, Romeo Gigli, Yohji Yamamoto and a many others.

His photographs are acclaimed for a sense of grace, purity and femininity due to Paolo’s technique, which he says to be ‘more subtraction than addition’.

Website: Paolo Roversi Photography

 

 

Name: Mario Sorrenti

Location: New York, NY

Bio: New York City based photographer, Mario Sorrenti was born in Naples in 1971. He is best known for his nude photography featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as for the iconic shooting of Kate Moss for the Calvin Klein Obsession perfume campaign. Sorrenti is active in the music industry as well, having shot Shakira, Maxwell, and Drake. He also directed John Mayer’s video for ‘Daughters’ in 2003.

Mario Sorrenti fashion photographer

Among his clients from the world of fashion, he has collaborated with notorious publications and fashion houses like Vanity Fair, Another Man, Lancôme, Paco Rabanne, and Benetton. Currently, he exclusively works for the Art Partner agency and continues to surprise his audience with a provocative, always impressive vision on what fashion photography is.

Website: Mario Sorrenti Photography

 

Image Sources: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Use Your Camera’s Depth of Field Better

The manual settings on your camera, if used right, can lead to far more marvelous photos than those done with the auto settings. It’s really quite unfortunate that most DLSR cameras come today with advanced auto settings, because it enables most users to postpone actually learning a thing or two about what the manual settings actually do and how they can be aligned to work together for perfect results. Don’t be one of those lazy would-be photographers who stick to the predefined options, as that will never lead to better than average photos. One of the first things you should learn to use better is the so-called triangle of camera exposure, composed of ISO, shutter speed and aperture. It can truly make the difference between average photos at best and good photos at least. But after learning more about those basics, the next thing which can influence your final photos for the better is your camera’s depth of field variable, a sub-setting within the aperture setting.

What is the Depth of Field?

The depth of field, usually abbreviated with an f-number, is something directly derived from the aperture of your camera. As a reminder, your camera’s aperture is the size of the hole within the lens, through which light travels to the inside of the camera. Considering that cameras are made following the model of the human eye, you could say that the aperture corresponds to the eye’s pupil, since they serve the same purpose of allowing light in. A bigger camera usually has a larger hole, and a smaller camera usually has a smaller hole. A larger hole equals a bigger aperture, while a smaller hole equals a lower aperture. The aperture of a camera is also expressed through an f number, with a higher number signifying a smaller aperture and vice-versa. This might seem counter-intuitive to some of you, but it can be easier sunk in if you look at this chart (pictured below). The white circles in it represent the size of the lens aperture, while the f numbers written below them illustrate the rule: the larger the number, the smaller the aperture signified will be.

1

The depth of field is the size of the field that looks sharp in a photograph, and it is directly dependent on the aperture.  A large depth of field number (like f/28) will bring all the foreground and background objects into focus equally, while a smaller number (signifying a larger aperture) will bring only the foreground objects into focus, making the background of the photo appear blurry. A good illustration of this effect can be observed in the picture below. As you might have guessed, this is how those wonderful photos with faded backgrounds are made with, and it is indeed a wonderful effect to use. A skilled manipulation of a camera’s depth of field allows the photographer to emphasize whatever their heart’s desire is within a photo, and to make sure the viewers “see” the same thing the photographer has seen when they look at the image.

2

Even though a camera’s aperture sounds like more or less of a hardware property, since it depends on the size of the hole and the lens, the aperture can be somewhat manipulated, within a minimum and maximum limit. Each camera comes with these min and max values stated in the manual or in the specifications of your lens, if you bought yours separately from the camera. The depth of field can be thus adjusted by adjusting the camera’s aperture, and you should play with it as often as possible to obtain better or more creative photos on the long run. Don’t be afraid to experiment, after a while you’ll get the feel of it and you’ll be able to employ the depth of field to create beautiful images seamlessly, just by following your gut. Good luck and have fun.

Why Photography Contests Are Good for Business: 3 Arguments

photography-contests-are-good-for-business01Photo competitions have been around since the art of photography itself, but their history in itself doesn’t mean they are without detractors. On the one hand, there are those photo aficionados who tend to believe  that such contests are a sheer waste of time, organized by money- and rights-grabbing brutes with no real interest in the art. Yet, on the other, photo competitions do have value for the artists, since they prompt them to take an honest, objective look at their own work, cull it, curate it, and put their best foot forward. That’s why we at Virtual Photography Studio believe photography contests are good for business, no matter if you’re into wedding photography, glam, editorial, or photojournalism. They can help you carve out a niche and build a name for yourself and they can also do a whole lot more – join us as we explore three essential arguments in favor of photo contests.

#1 The money

It might sound petty, but one way to tell apart professional competitions from lame ones is the cash prizes. The winner of the International Photography Awards gets $10,000 in cash; the winner of the Deeper Perspective section within the same contest receives $5,000, and there’s also a $2,500 prize for the year’s best new photographer. If you win the grand prize of the Smithsonian Photo Contest you get $5,000 and there are also five $500 cash awards for the categories, plus a Readers’ Choice award worth just as much. The National Geographic Photo Contest awards its Grand Prize winner with $7,500 and each category winner with $2,500. Petty or not, when a serious chunk of cash is involved, one can’t help but think of how great money would be for making further investments into business.

#2 The exposure

Some photography contests are good for business even though they provide no actual cash prize, as is the case with the Photography Masters Cup. This competition asks for a $30 entrance fee and promises exposure in the PHOTO Paper Magazine, as well as several online media outlets. The above-mentioned IPA has had the work of its winners published on Buzzfeed, as well as on EYEMAZING. It goes without saying that some photo contests are great for exposure even only by sheer association (Smithsonian and National Geographic are two examples).photography-contests-are-good-for-business02

#3 The business leads

If you win the IPA, you get a trip to the prestigious Lucie Awards in NYC – and if you’re double lucky, you can even get your image selected for a 45-photo exhibition in the build-up for the show. And most local winners will get automatic exposure in local media outlets, irrespective of how prestigious the competition is – you can usually count on national/local pride to boost your prestige. Many previous winners of the contests mentioned above explained that photography contests are good for business because they allow you to become more connected with actual buyers in your niche. As such, winning the right contests is highly likely to ultimately boost your revenue.

Verdict: Top photography contests are good for business every time

Yes, we did say top photography contests are good for business – because the shady ones can actually be detrimental. Here are a few guidelines, if you’re looking to expand the notoriety of your wedding photography business by entering a contest and don’t know where to start:

–          Be wary of contests that charge entrance fees, but don’t offer any cash prizes. These are the money-hungry leeches we were referring to in the beginning.

–          Always, always read each competition’s policy on copyright. You do not want to give rights to your work for free, no matter how otherwise prestigious the contest sounds.

–          Make sure you enter the right category, when applying – and also check out the profile of each contest. Some are geared toward editorial work, while others tend to lean toward photojournalism more.

15 Things You Should Know About Becoming A Fine Art Photographer

1. Never listen to the critiques. With billions of people on this earth, there will always be people that completely get what you do … and people that absolutely hate everything about you. Unfortunately in many cases, the “haters” are louder than the “lovers”. I love getting “hate” emails because it means I’ve touched a nerve. (Not that I don’t like the “love” emails too! 😉 ) Never be afraid to let your true personality shine. You don’t have to make the world fall in love with you; only a select few that can keep you in business. The more edgy you are, the more “love” you will find.

15 Things You Should Know About Becoming A Fine Art Photographer2. Always study technique. The most important thing you can do for you career is study what you do. Learn the basics so you could do it in your sleep. You should be able to see and know you have a great image long before you check the file. Once the basics are down, refine everything you do from this point forward. Take a Photoshop class. A Lightroom class. A class on posing. A class from a master photographer. A class from a painter of light. And so on. Even if you don’t know how it applies to you yet, always be willing to learn. You never know how something will profoundly change the way you look at things. And have a huge impact on your business.

3. Forget about things and focus in on feelings. Have you ever stood back at an art festival, a gallery or a museum, and watched people take in the artwork? They don’t say things like ‘great barn”, “love the green” or “nice tiger”. Instead, they get caught up in what the artwork “says” to them. They’ll ponder awhile before saying “the color is so intense, I knew immediately what the artist was trying to convey”. Or they’ll say “I feel like I’m right there in the field with the artist, looking back in time at what this structure, this barn has meant to people over the past 100 years”. Don’t photograph something just because its there. Really capture its essence and put all of your emotion – your feelings – into it before you fire the shutter.

4.Forge your own path.

“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” ~Joseph Campbell

While you may think that the people at the top had an easy ride, I can almost guarantee you they didn’t. They followed people, they learned from people, they made mistakes, they failed. The more you do each of these things, the more success you will find. Its only when you give up that you lose it all. Start by mimicking those you love. Use those ideas to come up with new things. And slowly develop into who you are meant to be.

5. Quit undervaluing yourself. As artists, we believe too much in the “starving artist” concept. Did you know the most expensive photograph sold at auction so far has fetched $4.3 million? Yep, million. For a photograph. People love art. They pay for art. And if you view yourself as an artist, you’ll quickly put yourself in an entirely different dimension than just another photographer.

6. Limit your work. What makes a photograph more valuable is how many of them are available. If you want to see your work increase in price, limit the amount you print. Do something special with each image. Make them stand out. Make them WOW! Then proudly display a limited edition with every image and tell them exactly how many there will be. People love things they can’t have or are very rare.

7. Think of your work as a finished product. Are you mounting each image on the finest of materials? Are you framing to compliment your work? Do you carefully sign each piece? Do you provide an easel if you want it to sit in the corner of the room? Are you making each piece an experience to look at from all vantage points of the room? Think of the experience, and work backwards from there. You can learn from an interior decorator as well.

8. Watch where you sell. Are you trying to sell your images from a souvenir shop? Or is it a true art gallery that makes you feel slightly different upon entering? You can’t sell a $1 million image from the back of a Hyundai. You have to have the Jaguar experience – its what they expect before investing their money.

9. Visit every gallery you can. While your goal should never be to copy what is currently being done, by seeing what others are doing, you’ll learn along the way. You’ll come up with ideas for your own work – both what you want and don’t want to do – and can use those ideas and you continue to refine what you do. Here’s a great list of galleries to get you started.

10. Fine art is an online/off line world. People like to see your work. So you’ll have to get your work into galleries and art shows. But once people know who you are, they are perfectly comfortable shopping your website. They want to check out where your upcoming shows are. They want to take a look at your newest pieces. And to do so, you must have a professional website that provides all of this and more. Fine art is not an offline venture anymore. To be successful at it, you have to be as comfortable heading into a gallery to network with the owner as you do networking online with sites like Facebook and Etsy.

11. Visit an art fair – submit to an art fair. The only way to find out how well received your work is will be to get it in front of people. Start with one of the many art fairs around the world. Visit some to get an idea of what to expect. Then choose a handful to join and work. Make sure you have enough work to give a good representation of what you do – and that you have a website and business portfolio strong enough to continue the networking process for months to come.

12. Reverse your learning curve and find out more about art collectors. While its important to become the best photographer you can, turn it around once in awhile and discover what a collector truly looks for in an art piece. Learn how a photograph is appraised, what makes it valuable, and how to handle a piece as it moves from gallery to collector. You may even sit down with a gallery owner and talk about what makes a photograph valuable. Incorporate all you learn into your own business model and you’ll quickly see your value rise.

13. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. Everyone – every photographer – started at the bottom. They all took an image or two that wasn’t at top quality. They all cringe at some of their first works. And they all to their very first shows in order to learn and get their feet wet in the fine art business. Its okay to start with something small. Small things lead to big things over time.

14. Use crowdfunding to fund your next project. If you have an idea, there are many followers willing to help you fund it. You just have to ask.

15. Change your plans. The first rule of success is to have a plan. The second rule is to change it along the way. Don’t focus on too many things upfront; instead spend time putting one thing into play. Depending on how well that works, adjust and approach your marketing from a different angle. “No” should never be an option. You should only use that to refine your approach before you try it again.

7 Myths About Becoming An Artist Late In Life

At some point in your life, you’ll look at the life you’ve created and want something more. It may be as you graduate from college and decide your degree isn’t the path you want to take. It may be in your 30’s as you start your family and want to stay home with the kids. It may be in your 60’s as you retire and find yourself with more time on your hands. In any case, starting over can be a good thing when it comes to being creative and finding your inner artist.

Yet for many, the idea of finding your inner artist at a late age can be intimidating. Here are a few myths and what you can do to move beyond them.

Myth #1 You Have To Have Formal Training To Be A Great Photographer

I recently read a book Between The Lines by author Jodi Picoult and her middle school aged daughter Samantha Van Leer. In her note at the beginning of the book, she gives stories about how her daughter at a young age became a storyteller, and even began to write stories down as early as first grade. She states:

You are either born a storyteller or not, and my daughter – at age seven – seemed to have an intrinsic sense of how to craft literary tension.

Yes, artists can refine, they can learn, they can improve, and they can become better at what they do. But somewhere deep down inside, becoming an artist is inside our souls. Whether we choose to let it out at fifteen or sixty-five doesn’t change our potential. It merely changes the way we approach it and what we choose to do with it.

Myth #2 You Have To Quit Your Job To Be A Real Artist

Many, many people young and old start out on a part time basis. In some cases it’s for fun. In some cases it turns into a part time income. And in some cases, it eventually turns into something more. The purpose of becoming an artist is to fulfill something inside you that wants to let your creativity out. That can take any form you desire. [Read more…]

Can You Still Use Etsy For Making Money With Your Photography?

If you’ve been online for any length of time, you know sites come and go. What people were using even just a few short months ago to market their businesses may not work any more.

Many months ago I started looking at Etsy as a way to build up your brand as a fine art photographer.

Dig Deeper: How Photographers Use Etsy

Dig Deeper: 10 Places To Turn Your Photography Into Sales

Is Etsy still relevant today? As it turns out, the answer is yes.

Etsy is the king of the marketplace when it comes to selling handcrafted goods. You can sell your art without having to know how to build a website or start up an online store. Etsy does it all for you. You list it for free and pay a low commission on anything that sells. [Read more…]

7 Places To Display Your Fine Art Photography

Even if you are a full time photographer photographing commercial work, portraits or weddings, you’ve probably dreamed of having your best work on display for the world to see. As photography is more prevalent in our lives than ever, there are more places to display your work than ever before. Yes, you might have more competition for the few spots out there. But imagine how you will feel when you’re work is accepted?

Whether for display, or to sell as a piece of fine art, consider these places in your community as opportunities waiting for you.

Commercial Galleries

Probably the easiest galleries to find, and what people most commonly think of when you mention an art gallery, is the for profit commercial gallery. These galleries accept work that meets their clients’ expectations, and makes a profit when a piece is sold to a collector. A commercial gallery will offer you a contracted time period to represent you and show your work, and will split the sales price with you if a sale is made. Exhibitions are usually scheduled well in advance – sometimes 12 months or more – to prepare and market for the event.

 

Co-Op Galleries

Many galleries out there are associated with an artist and a group. In order to show your work, you have to have a membership into the group. Each membership has different requirements for acceptance, so shop around and find a group that meets your needs, as well as accepts your type of work. In some cases you will have to work at the gallery as well, so be sure its accessible to you and your schedule. [Read more…]

How Should You Be Marketing Your Fine Art Photography?

Here in the U.S. we celebrated Independence Day yesterday. And as a part of the 4th of July traditions here in Denver, we always head out and attend the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, one of the largest of its kind here in the U.S.

I love taking in the sites and the sounds – they have great bands on the main stage to help you enjoy even more. And this year we spent as much time as we could heading in to each booth, as it was in the mid 90’s with lots of sunshine as we strolled around the area.

This year, I noticed a few trends I thought I would share here.

Take Advantage Of Their Marketing

Any time you work at a festival, whether its something like the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, or even a bridal festival, chances are they are experienced at putting together a show. They know how to set up booths, get the best vendors, and market their show to the community.

Because they are always looking for ways to market their events more effectively, chances are they offer each artist a chance to use the latest technology. This year they have a website that showcases each artist within the appropriate gallery: photography, jewelry, drawing, wood, etc. And they also offered something new: a QR code attached to the sign placed at each booth. And this is where almost all need help.

People understand older technology – websites – and so they are using that fairly effectively. Yet when something is new, rather than finding out more about it, they simply use it in the easiest way possible. And this is where opportunity is missed.  While most people simply use the QR code to send people to a website, this is really your opportunity to grow your following. Why not send them to your Facebook Page, and give them a reason to like and follow you? Or maybe a special page on your site where they can take advantage of a show special? [Read more…]

Becoming A Fine Art Photographer

This post is Day 19 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

Have you ever walked into a gallery of fine art photography, and thought, “I could do that.” How great would it be to have a huge gallery that inspired millions from around the world?

Fine art means many things to different people.

  • Fine art might be selling a few images at a local craft fair.
  • Fine art might be selling your art as calendars, journals and books.
  • Fine art might be selling your work at art exhibits.
  • Fine art might mean ending up in a museum.

And of course how one views a work of art is completely subjective. We’ve all stared at a work of art and said, “Really?”

My definition of fine art photography may be different than others. I view fine art as:

A photograph created by an artist, and sold to an individual for the appreciation of the work itself.

I tend to look at things from a business perspective, so to me, if you can’t sell your work, and maintain an income stream from what you do, you can never be a full fledged fine art photographer. I don’t value the money itself; instead I look at money as a way to continue to work at your art in the best way possible.

So the first thing I do is look for support systems, resources and successful photographers to begin to follow.

Build Your Support Systems

So you want to be a fine art photographer? Let’s get started.

First, let me ask you what that means to you? Do you want to be in a gallery? Do you want to open up your own gallery? Do you want to sell books? Do you want to travel?

Start by defining what it means to you. Imagine yourself in a year, fully supported by what you make as a photographer. What does your life look like? How are you generating income?

Now lets work backwards. With that in mind, it’s easier to find the support systems already in place that you can build around.

If you want to be in a gallery, find a gallery that represents photographers. With a quick search I found Fifty One Fine Art Photography. I also found an Art Support resource that lists dozens and dozens of galleries throughout the United States – just pick your state and find out what’s around you.

Or maybe you have the desire to display your work at arts festivals. It’s a great way to travel to different cities and states, display your work, talk with potential clients, and experience a different lifestyle. I’ve found some great resources that can help you find an art festival, and apply for multiple locations in an easy manner.

With just a little bit of research, you can find a ton of resources that can begin to build up a plan for how to move forward.

Its Who You Know

When you walk into a gallery, it’s easy to wish for something. But because you have no idea how they got there, it will always remain a wish until you do something about it.

People don’t become famous by wishing. They become famous by doing. They find a person to ask a question or two, and then they take that information to heart. They start building one step at a time by acting on what they learn.

If you love what an artist is currently doing, ask him or her a question. If they are simply too large and unavailable, do the next best thing. Learn from their story. Buy their books. Visit their galleries. Read about them on their website. Follow them on Facebook.

You’ll quickly be amazed at how much information you can pick up just by reading.

You may learn of associations and groups they belong to.

By studying one site, I came across a great resource – The Association of International Photography Art Dealers. How much knowledge do you think you could gain from attending their upcoming show in New York? It’s March 17-20, still plenty of time to make your reservations and go.

Before I wrote my first book, I found out about the Book Expo America – a huge event that takes place annually, and has amazing classes, and row after row of publishers, authors and dealers. So off to New York I flew, and just absorbed for a few days. Yes, I was completely overwhelmed. But the notes and books and resources I took away from there were invaluable.
The key to remember in becoming a fine art photographer, or really any type of photographer, is you have to do things one step at a time. You won’t be on the top collector list the first week you try. It may take years. But imagine all of the fun you’ll have along the way. All the people you’ll meet. And all the things you’ll learn.

And that’s really the most important thing of all: the journey.