Photography, like any craft, can be improved by practice and study. One of the best ways to become a better photographer is by cultivating your ability to see like an artist. The artistic components of fine art, such as light, color, texture, form and composition are artists’ tools. They are the same tools employed by accomplished photographers. Great photographers think like great artists. They compose with their eye, and are sensitive to the elements of a great composition before them.
Accomplished photographers learn to see and judge what is before them like fine artists.
One of the best ways to become a better photographer is to study the fine art landscapes and portraits of the Old Masters. Many of these works can be seen online. Visit museums and ask yourself why a great painting moves you emotionally. What elements has the artist used to engage your eye? How has he used color, shadow, texture and light? How can you use the same elements in your photography? The more you see the world around you as your canvas, the more you will compose your photos with an artists’ eye.
It’s not about Photoshop or the brand of camera you use. It’s how you use your eye to compose what is in front of you. It’s learning how to see and judge light. It’s capturing the emotions you feel as an observer and sharing it with others.
“Always Keep Looking” -Art Wolfe
I have noted that the photographers I most admire, see things with an artist’s eye. They do not obsess over the technical gadgets of their craft. Rather they focus on really seeing what it in front of them. And they compose and use color like fine artists. Two of my favorite photographers Art Wolfe and Jay Maisel emphasize this vital point.
“Always keep looking. There are amazing photographs all around you, even right in your own backyard, the town where you live, within an hours drive; you don’t have to travel the world to exotic locations to photograph iconic vistas and remote cultures or the rarest of animals. Some of my favorite images are those that everyone else would step right past and never see.” –Art Wolfe, Bare Essentials Magazine, Issue 38
In this video interview, notice how Jay Maisel (another photographer with a fine art background) makes the same observation.
The Benefits of Exploring Other Visual Disciplines
By drawing from more mature mediums of artistic expression we can accelerate the creative process and become better photographers. Through that effort, we can create a body of work with enduring appeal. -Don Peterson