Looking for art in everyday life, a photographer’s guide

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My goal with this article is to help you become more artistic with your photography, so you can not only be a better photographer, but to see the art all around you in the world and in everyday life.

Because, as a photographer, your goal should be to perfect your work. And art is an essential part of photography.

Being great at your work will make you a professional, and professionals can charge a lot more then the amateurs, because you as a professional have earned it, and your work will be far superior.

When you reach that point, you’re set in a whole new category, you are not just a photographer anymore, you are an artist, and that is truely something to be proud of.

Looking for art in everyday life

When you first pick up a dslr camera it seems a bit foreign. You’re not quite sure where to point it are what would make an interesting angle.
We’re so used to just grabbing our phones and carelessly snapping shots of our kids with virtually no thought of what angle to shoot, how the light is or what might be in the background.
This has programmed us to think uncreatively (if that is a word) and confuses us when we try to take professional photographs.
Here’s a few ways to correct that and help you to see art everywhere.

Position and Angle

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When photographing a model, In almost any cases you want to be head level with them or looking up at them, especially with children. It always bothers me when I see a high end photo looking down on a child, unless of course they’re trying to create a special effect intentionally making the child’s head look lager then his/her body.

Emotion

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Consider having the model looking away at something other then the camera, even try looking behind themselves turning their back to the camera completely. This makes for a much better artistic photo then the typical look at the camera and smile.

Also try asking the model not to smile, or to actually look a little sad. Small things like this will change the emotion and mood of the photo drastically.

Clothes

Never allow your model to ware clothes that have logos or obnoxious colors. Try to have them ware muted colors. You want the focus to be on their face, not their clothes. Sometimes you just can’t avoid this in some cases where there is a perfect photo opportunity but the person is not dressed for it as in this example.

But take the photo anyway, sometimes you can remove the logos in the edit.

Color

Having a basic understanding of color and color opposites can have a huge impact on your photos! For example, if your model is in a field surrounded with yellow flowers, try some purple outfits. Or if you have lush greenery all around, try a red outfit. One of my personal favorite opposites is blue and orange.
You can also change the mode of the scene completely by simply adjusting the temperature. Warm tones create a peaceful safe and comfortable environment where cold tones make it sad, alone, scary, uneasy etc.

Light

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Light is a very interesting thing, you never noticed light the way you do when you start thinking about it and taking photos. Light is most interesting in the morning as the sun is rising, and in the evening as the sun is setting. The sun becomes magical, shooting beams of light through trees and windows exposing and illuminating particles of dust that you would normally never see.

You may have been told at one point, as I was, to have your model facing the sun to brighton the face. Never do that!!! I shouldn’t say never. Experiment, with it, if you must. But try putting the sun behind them and you will get gorgeous rim light, especially around hear.

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Also, experiment with interior light when there is no other light source, like having a room light on and the hallway lights off so you can see the light poring out into the hall as a child opens the door. Or maybe even giving your model a flashlight as the only light source. Your mind can go wild thinking up so many awesom things you can do with light!

Composition

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Learning just the basics of composition will greatly improve the art of your photos.

The rule of thirds is basically a tic-tac-toe board, two lines horizontal and two lines vertical. Most cameras have this built in where you can turn it on and see the rule of thirds grid on the LCD screen. Position the focus point (typically your models heard) on one of the thirds where the lines cross.
Just a side note. Never crop your models off at the  joints. I’m guilty of this all the time if I’m not paying attention. When you frame your shoot, always double check to make sure you haven’t cropped on a joint.

Props

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Having some great props in a scene will make it much more interesting. Instead of simply having a little boy sitting on a log by a pathway through the woods, give him a suitcase and maybe have him looking at a compass or reading a letter. All of these things can help tell a story and make a great piece of art.

Remove Distractions and reveal your focus point

When you get into the shoot, it’s easy to get lost in the moment and not notice the mountain of blue trash cans in the background, (guilty!)… These distractions can sometimes be edited out in post, but that’s just another step you have to take.
Before you start editing, zoom way out until the photo is about thumbnail size. What is the first thing you notice when you look at the photo now? Is it your model or something else? This is a good  exercise, it will help you to remove or desaturate things in the scene that are not necessary. Our eyes are drawn to light and color, so that’s something else to keep in mind. A good habit to get into is desaturate parts of the photo you don’t want to draw attention to and bring the viberence up a touch to the part you want your viewer to focus on.

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Conclusion

When you start watching out for and applying these things, you will start to notice art all around you. To the point where it gets annoying, because you wont always have your camera with you or have the time to take a great photo every time you see one. But it’s good practice to look for these photo perfect art pieces throughout everyday life.
Was this article helpful to you? I would love to see your art photos in the comments section. Also, if you know someone who could benefit from this post, feel free to share it like a happy go lucky caffeined up babirusa! 😉
Be awesome! Share this with your photography friends! :D
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