Fine Art Photography woman standing in medieval peasant style dress in an Autumn woodland scene with her hands collapsed wishing

Fine Art Photography: The Ultimate Guide to Capturing Stunning Fine Art Photos

Do you want to capture stunning fine art photography?

In this article, discover the secrets to gorgeous fine art photos–so you can take amazing images wherever you go!

What is Fine Art Photography?

Fine Art Photography is a type of photography in which the photographer shares their personal vision.

That is: Fine art isn’t about representing what we see. Instead, it’s based on expressing our creative vision as a photographer.

An easy way of thinking about it?

Most photographers take a photo; a fine art photographer makes a photo.

Now, fine art photography still relies on basic photography considerations (such as light, color, and composition).

But you, as the photographer, have to add your artistic vision to the photo.

Make sense?

Let’s talk about how you can take incredible fine art photos, start with…

1. Plan Your Fine Art Photography in Advance for Gorgeous Shots

If you want to capture incredible fine art photos…

…you have to start with some planning.

Consider your finished image. What do you want it look like?

Try and picture it. You can even sketch a rough version out for reference.

Fine Art Photography of an artist painting trees on a hillside
Photo by Jade Stephens

As you’re thinking, answer these questions:

Is the image something you are passionate about creating? A fine art image is personal. It should be something you connect with.

And about the message you want to share with the observer through your work. How do you want them to feel when they look at it? How can you create that feeling?

2. Look at Other Art Forms for Inspiration

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for your fine art photography, don’t worry.

Because there are plenty of ways of becoming inspired.

My favorite?

Draw inspiration from other art forms!

Specifically, look at some of your favorite painters, sketch artists, or even sculptors. Take note of what you like about their work.

statue of a horseman riding along an angel
Draw inspiration from other art forms in your fine art photography

And then…

Incorporate aspects of it into your own work!

Of course, don’t just copy their art. But notice how they execute their vision–how they express themselves through their art.

And try to use their work to guide your own fine art photography.

3. Carefully Prepare for Your Fine Art Photoshoot

Once you have an idea for a fine art photo…

…it’s time to execute it.

And execution? It involves some preparation.

Depending on your particular vision, you may have to do a lot of prep work–or only a little.

But consider what your photoshoot requires. Will you need props? Clothing? Makeup artists? Lights?

You should also consider the equipment and settings your photos will need. Think about the best aperture, the best shutter speed, and the ideal lenses. That way, you can be extremely prepared when the shoot begins.

4. Pay Attention to the Details in Your Image

One of the reasons fine art images fail?

Lack of attention to detail.

Even the smallest items matter. Some wrinkles in the clothing, some dirt on a blanket–it all can ruin a shot.

Bottom line?

You want all the aspects of your work to be harmonious. Nothing should feel out of place.

I always think about the period of my images. Is it modern, set in a particular historic period? Or is it ‘timeless’?

It’s important to decide this in advance. That way, you can use props and clothing that have the right feel.

5. Find Cheap Props and Costumes for Your Photoshoot

A fine art photo of a woman holding a reflective mirror to her eye
Be creative with pops in your fine art photography. A photo by
Photo by Houcine Ncib

Because fine art photography involves creating a photo…

…most fine art shoots involve props.

But don’t worry–these don’t have to be expensive. Instead of going to the store, start by considering what things you can use from around your home or borrow from friends.

Be creative! Use cheap fabric and old clothing. For a slightly more luxurious feel, paint plastic items.

Thrift stores, charity shops, local sales, and online selling sites are all great places to pick up pieces inexpensively.

Just keep an eye out for useful props wherever you go–and you’ll find some things worth using.

I guarantee it.

6. Choose Your Lighting Carefully for the Best Fine Art Images

Lighting is key to capturing a stunning fine art photo.

So you must spend some time thinking about your lighting options.

If you are going to use natural light, then what will be the best time of day for the shot? Do you want to shoot in the early morning, for a beautiful golden scene? Or do you want to shoot using the harsh midday sunlight, for a more dramatic, contrast-heavy look?

A double exposure fine art photo of a man and pine trees
A double exposure fine art photo by photographer César Rincón

If you’re using a flash…

How will you set up the lights? Will you create some dramatic sidelighting? Or will you illuminate your subject evenly? Do you need to test out your lighting or visit your location?

You should ask yourself all of these questions–and more.

Because lighting can make or break a fine art photo!

Related Article: Ultimate Guide to Flash Photography

7. Experiment With Different Angles for the Best Fine Art Photo

A black and white fine art image of two buildings converging
Try different angles and viewpoints to get a variety of shots

The shoot has started. You’re trying to capture the photo you had envisioned.

What do you do?

Here’s what I suggest:

Even if you know exactly what photo you want to capture…

…try to get a variety of different shots.

As with any shoot, try to get a variety of different shots.

For instance, vary your angle. Get down low to the ground–and then climb up high.

And vary your focal length and depth of field. Shoot a tight photo with lots of bokeh. Then zoom out for a wider, more environmental photo.

A lot of the photos won’t work out.

But a few of them will! And if you persevere and take enough photos, you’ll capture the exact photo that you had envisioned in the first place!

8. Use Post-Processing to Put the Finishing Touches on Your Fine Art Photo

Fine art photos don’t require processing.

But a bit of editing work?

It can go a long way.

A fine art photograph of a women and her reflection in two different colors
Post-processing is helpful for putting finishing touches of your fine art vision.

Start by thinking about the subject of the photo. Does it stand out? Is it clear and obvious?

The best photos tend to have a clear subject–one that is immediately identifiable.

If the subject doesn’t stand out, you can use brushes to lighten your subject while darkening the background.

You should also ask yourself:

Do the colors match the subject and vision?  Can you manipulate them to make it even more cohesive?

Finally, think about whether your image has a feeling of depth and texture. How could you add to this?

9. Create a Cohesive Body of Fine Art Work

Here’s a fact:

Successful photographers and other artists often have a distinctive feel to their work. 

Check out two great fine art photographers: Brooke Shaden and Kirsty Mitchell.

They both have very strong styles–styles that run through their entire body of work.

It can be challenging to analyze our own photography style. If you’re struggling, I suggest you ask somebody close to you what makes your work distinctive.

And then…

…lean into that. Try to emphasize that uniqueness in your future photoshoots.

Plus, knowing what makes your work stand out can be helpful in developing a vision for new work.

And it will keep your portfolio cohesive!

Fine art photography cover image
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Now that you’ve learned these tips for stunning photos, you’re a better photographer.

Guaranteed.

But the fact is, the journey doesn’t stop there. There are more tips, tricks, and secrets--all of which will help you take gorgeous photos.

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About the author

Ceridwen Raynor

Ceridwen is an English fine art photographer specialising in fairytale and fantasy images with a Pre-Raphaelite feel. She loves costume and history and focuses on creating cinematic and painterly images. When not shooting or editing she can often be found with a sewing needle in hand or using a smartphone to snap random items to add to her texture library. You can follow her @CeridwenImages on social media.

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