NEW HAVEN, United States — Fine art is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “art (as painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects.” Photography is just one medium in the fine art genre, but that makes it no less popular. While technique is important, beauty goes far beyond rigid technique and learned skills. It is emotion, experiences and stories conveyed to the beholder in a meaningful and touching way. Regardless of your skill or experience, you can never have too many tips.
Meet Christopher Boffoli. Among other things, he is a fine art photographer. By day he shoots commercial and editorial photography, but when inspiration strikes, he transforms into an inspiring and imaginative fine art photographer. You will be surprised to learn that he was actually an English major in college and he has worked as a philanthropic fundraiser for Dartmouth College and the London School of Economics.
He says: “I think that when you’re creative, you can be creative in many different ways. I’m also a filmmaker. I’m producing a documentary film right now, so creativity kind of manifests itself in a lot of different ways.”
If you too are interested in honing your fine art photography skills, this Cheat Sheet will give you a leg up on the competition.
1. Get a well-rounded education
Weigh these thoughts for a moment. Is it better to understand one thing really well or, be well-rounded? Being well-rounded means understanding many concepts, which are directly applicable to the world around you. This knowledge can help you see, understand and interpret things in a completely different light. When talking about how to replicate his success, Boffoli says that he was not really sure how to do that, but he says there are some important things to keep in mind. He explains:
“The important thing is to be well-rounded. You know, like I said, I was an English major. I had a very good, solid liberal arts education as a background, which gives me flexibility to kind of respond to opportunities as they come up. I will also say to students, if they’re not already in photography school, don’t go to photography school. Get a nice, good liberal arts education as an under graduate and then do an MFA in photography, do a graduate programme in photography.” He adds:
Be well-rounded, that way you can respond to things that come up and that certainly helped me in this instance.
2. Challenge the way you see the world around you
Inspiration is everywhere, you just need to see it. When asked about inspiration, Boffoli says:
“Inspiration is everywhere. I mean, it could come from cinema, it could come from television, books, memories I had as a child, just walking to the supermarket, considering the geometry of a pile of grapes or a watermelon; you just have to always be drinking it all in and thinking about it. You know there’s so much in the world. There are so many distractions and I think that sometimes there are just some things that stand out that you’re like: oh gosh, that’s terrific it’s great.”
It’s almost like sometimes the world turns to black and white and these certain things are just in colour.
What do you see when you look at innocuous things like a glass of spilled milk or falling snow? When you see the world, do not see it through a skeptical adult’s eye. View each and every thing around you with a child’s innocence and wonder.
Develop your sight skills. Looks at things around you. Observe your emotional response to objects and situations. Close your eyes and think about past events. Look through a glass of water at some things or maybe attempt macro photography. Do things that most would not normally think of. Remember that your unique viewpoint is what will make your art stand out from of the rest.
3. Take hold of opportunities
Life is rife with opportunities, it just takes someone brave enough to grab hold of them. Keep your camera close and when opportunity or inspiration strike, snap away. Expand your horizons, it does not matter if you think you might not be able to do something the first time. Challenge yourself to try new things. Adapt when you need to. Do not let difficulty get in the way of chance.
4. Accidents are an opportunity
Your first thought is it did not come out right or the angle was not perfect. You did not get something in the shot or you are not sure the lighting was the way you planned. Do not just get rid of the picture. Maybe it came out great even though it is not what you were going for. There are tons of possibilities, but the bottom line is to learn from your “mistakes”. Every accident, every photo is an experience to learn from. Failure is a better teacher than success.
5. Tell a story
You take a picture and you see something with depth and meaning, but will anyone else? Each image should say something, draw the viewer in. A photograph should be a journey, a story, an experience. There should be expression of emotion and feelings. A story is what makes an image art. Make people connect with it.
Think about pictures and images you have seen in the past. What do they say to you? What happened when you saw a picture that you just did not get? It is likely you were frustrated or uninterested.
Being creative does not mean throw technical quality to the wind. Mind your composition, since this is important to the storytelling process. Have a subject and/ or a theme. Do not forget there is a big difference between ingenuity and pointlessness. Viewers should be able to feel, see, experience an emotion, an event or a story when they look at the image. Lastly, keep taking pictures! Practice makes perfect and no one ever does something with expert skill on their first go.