Tips for Creating Artistic Photos

Shoot Images That Evoke Emotions Like Traditional Artwork

Martin Barraud / Getty Images

When attempting to take great photographs, most people want a realistic look. Trees should be green and vibrant, skies should be bright blue, and kids should be smiling and happy at all times. (OK, maybe not so much on the last one.)

However, another way to create great photos is to attempt to create art. Creating artistic photos is different from shooting photos of artwork. Instead, you want a photograph that can generate many of the same feelings and emotions that you’ll receive when viewing a piece of art in a museum.

There are quite a few different ways to create artistic photographs, which is important to keep in mind. And you can use a variety of equipment to create artistic photos, although some techniques are easier to employ with advanced camera gear.

Just as with traditional types of art, such as sculptures or paintings, no one method is the correct method. Art’s beauty truly is in the eye of the individual viewer, and artistic photographs are the same way. So be as creative as you want to be with your camera, and hopefully the following eight tips will help spark you to create photographs that will be artistic.

  • Think outside the typical photography box. Merging photography and art can be tricky, because you need to use a few different techniques. You want to frame photos quite a bit differently than you do when shooting portraits, for example. You might purposefully leave the subject slightly out of focus. You may want to photograph a repeating pattern with one unique object, as shown in the photo included here. You just have to think about photography a little differently when shooting artistic photos.
  • Try to look at subject matter in a new way. Look at your potential subjects a little differently, too. A boring bowl of fruit isn’t much of a subject for an everyday snapshot, but, with the proper lighting and configuration, it can make a great artistic photo.
  • Using different angles can yield a vastly different look. Try a variety of lighting angles and photography angles when shooting everyday objects in an artistic photo. You’ll be amazed how some slight changes in these angles will give these everyday objects a completely new look.
  • Blank space can be used to your advantage. Make good use of “white space” when shooting artistic photos. You don’t have to fill the frame every time with the subject, although that will be tempting, because the background seems boring. In addition, try to avoid centering the subject every time. Follow the Rule of Thirds sometimes.
  • Consider making use of a studio setting. If you want to become serious about shooting artistic photos, you may want to set up a small studio in your home. Have a few different backgrounds available and a couple of simple lighting options in this studio. You won’t need all of the equipment that a professional photographer needs, but a few pieces can help you shoot great artistic photos.
  • Special effects can turn an ordinary photo into an artistic one. Look through your camera’s special-effects menu. Some cameras allow you to apply artistic setting to a photo as you’re shooting, such as a pin-hole effect, a film grain effect, or a colorized effect, where the entire photo is black and white, other than one color.
  • Try HDR. One type of special effect photography that’s growing in popularity is HDR photography, which merges multiple photographs to expand the exposure levels of the image, creating a very interesting, artistic look to the photo.
  • Always use a high resolution. Finally, shoot at the highest resolution your camera can support, which will allow you to bring out the photo’s artistic look during the image-editing phase without losing image quality or size.