This post below is a guest post from my buddy Ben Heys who runs an artistic photography blog [he still actually does photography and art, instead of laying around and going fishing like me ]
Artistic photography is a great hobby and really easy to get into. It doesn’t take much more than a decent camera and an eye for composition. The thing to remember about composition is that you don’t always have to set up a shot–sometimes, they just happen. Using a camera to catch life in action can be a great way to remember events, places, and people you meet. Once I got started, I began notice great shots everywhere, and capturing these scenes has been a really rewarding experience for me. I notice all sorts of interesting stuff everywhere I go.
First, I want to talk about setting up an intentional composition. There are a lot of considerations that come into play that I don’t think most people consciously consider. How do we judge whether something is “artistic” or even just “good”? Whether you’re into black and white photography, or you like the complex spectrum of colors in your art, you have to think about what elements are taking center stage, and those that have supporting roles. Then, you have to use placement and lighting to communicate that understanding. The tensions of light and shadow, a sense of motion—even if there’s no direct evidence of it—that brings life to the shot, and a good balance of space are important. Short of getting a degree in photography, the best way you can perfect your own art is to study what others have done in this vein. Find work by particular artists and photographers you like and see what they do to make it function. Then, play around with the ideas. Digital technology has taken a lot of the expense of experimentation out of artistic photography, and that’s been helpful for me.
If you’re more interested in naturally occurring scenes and settings, I think what has been most helpful for developing my eye for a great shot is taking my camera with me and then taking pictures of everything I can. After a while, I started to develop a sense for what would be awesome on film, and I didn’t need to take so many photographs. Sometimes, I’ve had to wait for a great scene, like when I go on hikes or down into the city for a night out. There are a lot of pictures that I thought would be great, but lacked that element of tension or failed to come together for some reason.