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Top 10 Mistakes Fine Art Photographers Make

Started by Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU), May 04, 2017, 11:37:54 PM

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Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU)

Top 10 Mistakes Fine Art Photographers Make

1. Always Centering the Subject

It's human nature to want to just plop the subject of a photograph in the centre of the frame. The subject is the most obvious part of the photo, and the center is the most obvious place to put it. By putting the subject in the centre of the frame, you run less risk of accidentally cutting part of it off or having to make it too small.

2. Taking Ordinary Pictures

I've often wondered how many photographs of sunsets actually exist in the world. Millions, certainly – possibly billions. Are there more photos of sunsets than there are people on the planet?

I took my share of sunset photos when I first got into photography. I was thrilled that I could produce such vivid colours and dramatic light-play on film. The photographs I took of sunsets looked professional, and many of my other photos really didn't.

3. Auto-Exposing / Auto-Focusing

Today's cameras are technical geniuses, able to analyze the scene before them and instantly come up with the best exposure value for the conditions, even compensating for very tricky lighting. Auto-focus systems can focus on a moving subject in any part of the frame, and through-the-lens flash exposures result in perfect strobe pictures every time.

These are great tools available to most photographers, and photographers should certainly take advantage of them. However, setting your camera to 'auto' and firing away won't give great, creative results all the time. There are many focus points and exposure values for a given scene, and your camera will only come up with a few of them. Exposing and focusing manually is the only way to ensure that the photograph looks the way you want it to.

4. Hand-Holding the Camera

A tripod is the single best investment most fine art photographers could make. A tripod is cheap, versatile, low-tech, and easy to use. A tripod makes photography in challenging light easy, and provides a whole repertoire of options for photographing motion. Better yet, a tripod provides precise control over the composition of a photograph, allowing the photographer to carefully inspect and correct their composition before exposing. Properly used, a tripod could improve 80% of most fine art photographers' photos.

5. Trying to Make Every Photograph Beautiful

Beauty is a very small part of what can be communicated through photography. Calling a photograph "beautiful" is often just a way of generalizing the vast and difficult array of emotions one feels when looking at a great photograph. Fragility can be beautiful, and so too can sadness, fear, hope, nostalgia, anger, or any other emotion you can interpret from art.

6. Using Poor Quality Film / Sensors

Quite simply, a poor quality film / image sensor will never produce a professional, fine art quality image, unless poor image quality is the intended effect. Poor films / sensors display poor colour, resolution, dynamic range, and noise ratio. Even well composed, well thought out photographs can look like family snapshots if the photographer uses shoddy image capture.

Balancing image quality with a tight budget can be difficult. If you're shooting film, try using good quality film only when you're creating art – shoot cheap film the rest of the time. If you're shooting digital, however, a good quality camera body can be very expensive. Remember that the quality of the image sensor is really the only important thing about the camera body – try to buy the best sensor you can reasonably afford.

7.. Not Abstracting

Abstracting your subject doesn't necessarily mean rendering it unrecognizable. To abstract an article or book is to present it in a reduced, simplified form, only discussing its most important aspects. To abstract a scene with the intention of making a photograph is to follow a similar process – weeding out redundant or unnecessary details, and only showing the viewer the most important parts of the scene. A snapshot, taken without abstracting its subject, usually fails to communicate with its viewer at all.

8. Following Design Templates

Quite simply, following design guidelines like "the rule of thirds", "the zone system", or any other conceptual templates, will lead a photographer to create a photograph just like so many existing photographs. Photographing within some arbitrary conceptual scope only stifles creativity, placing unnecessary restrictions on an already very restrictive art form.

9. Ignoring the Frame

The photographic frame is the only compositional element that will appear in every photograph you will make. How you arrange further compositional elements within the frame can completely change the look and feel of your photograph. Ignoring the frame as a compositional element altogether will usually result in a clumsy, awkward composition that looks forced and random.

10. Confusing Technically Good Photographs with Art

Far too often, photographers evaluate their work using phrases like "great depth of field", "saturated colours", "hair-splitting detail", or other photography jargon describing the technical merits of a photograph. Photography websites and magazines are overflowing with terms like these, seamlessly blended into ads for the latest image-capture technology.

Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU)
Asst. Administrative Officer and Apprentice
Daffodil International University
102/1, Shukrabad, Mirpur Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1207.
Cell: +8801671-041005, +8801812-176600