5 Tips for Creating Fine Art Portraits | Barbara MacFerrin
Fine art photography is created with the photographer’s artistic vision. It is not simply documenting a subject as the camera sees it—such as in the case of photojournalism—but it is using the camera as a tool to create an artistic vision. Fine art photography goes beyond the literal depiction of the subject—it expresses the photographer’s creativity and that the image was deliberately created by the artist. In my case, I create “painted portraits” with my camera. I don’t want to just take photographs, I want to create art. My portraits make a bold statement and I capture the best possible version of my subjects, often bringing out mood and emotion. I have always been inspired and captivated by the paintings of the old masters: Vermeer, Rembrandt, and the like. I get lost in the details and imagine what it would have been like to be there. When I started my portrait photography journey, I was never really good at drawing or painting, so this became my way to “paint”: with lights, a camera and Photoshop.
If you have been exploring the possibility of offering fine art portraits to your clients, please note that this genre of photography does take more time to execute, especially during post-processing. There are no simple actions or presets that will turn your photograph into a fine art portrait. In fact, every image I edit is a custom edit—each piece varies slightly, just like you can’t paint two images exactly the same. I am often asked by photographers how long it takes me to edit an image. That really depends on the image and how creative or complex I want to make it. Sometimes it can take as little as 45 minutes, and other times it can take several hours. Typically, a fine art portrait is intended for wall art or a family heirloom piece. Therefore, you will want to be sure to calculate the extra time and costs incurred and charge more for this type of work. Fine art portrait photography is a great way to market yourself as having something different to offer to your clients. It may not be for everyone, but people will know who to go to for this type of photography. Make it your own. Give it a signature style or a name that is unique to you and your vision.
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