Skip to main content
Tips and techniques

Fine Art Photography Top 17

By January 26, 2016No Comments
Afternooon in Grand Canyon National Park © Alain Briot

Afternooon in Grand Canyon National Park © Alain Briot

Story and Photos by Alain Briot

According to Robert Motherwell, “The purpose of the artist is to express reality as felt.”  But what are the most important aspects of Fine Art Photography?  The answer certainly varies from photographer to photographer because each of us places more importance on some aspects than on others.  I’ve compiled my Top 17 Tips based on information that I use for teaching during my workshops and what I personally consider to be the most important aspects of Fine Art Photography.

This list is excerpted from a longer list that I use for teaching during my workshops and seminars. The decision to create a shorter list, with only 16 items instead of 37, stemmed from the desire to focus on the essential aspects of Fine Art Photography regardless of which scenes we photograph, what subject we are study or what next step we are working towards. The resulting list is free from a particular teaching emphasis and represents what I look for in a Fine Art Photograph. 

Become an expert in light

  • The most important aspect of photography is not the gear you own or the techniques you use
  • The most important aspect of photography is light      

Compose your images carefully

  • Slow down
  • Use a viewfinder
  • Walk the scene
  •  Give equal importance to all the areas of the frame
  • Refine your compositions progressively 
Les Sentinelles Eternelles © Alain Briot

Les Sentinelles Eternelles © Alain Briot

Study colors and contrast

  • Study the contrast of the scenes you photograph
  • Study the color palette of the scenes you photograph

Create images that represent what you felt, not just what you saw

  • Study the differences between objective and subjective representations
  • Technique is objective and emotions are subjective
  • The camera is objective and the artist is subjective
  • Study the differences between documentation and personal expression
  • Documentation is showing what is in front of the lens
  • Personal expression is showing your emotional response to the subject

Focus on quality not quantity

  • The goal of Fine Art is not to create a lot of images
  • The goal of fine art is to make a small number of great images to be enjoyed for a long time 

Master both art and technique

  • Fine art is about both art and technique
  • Do not study just one or the other
  • Study and practice so that you master both

Master all the aspects of Fine Art Photography

  • Photography is a multi-parts process
  • These include composition, conversion, optimization, printing, exhibiting, marketing, etc.
  • Learn how to complete each step to fine art standards 

Optimize your photographs using layers in Photoshop

  • Don’t do all the optimization work in the raw converter
  • Photoshop offers much more latitude for the interpretation of the photographs and for introducing an emotional content

Make the final print your goal

  • Do not just learn how to take and optimize photographs
  • Learn how to print them well
  • Nothing is as beautiful as a fine art print
  • Photographs in books, magazines, on the web, etc. are all reproductions
  • We show and sell prints, not images on screen 

Mat and present your work in a professional manner

  • The print is not the end of the process
  • A Fine Art photograph needs to be matted and framed 

Focus your work and efforts on projects

  • Don’t photograph everything that attracts your eye
  • Be selective and deliberate in your choice of subject matter 

Share your work with others and build an audience

  • Do not keep your prints in boxes
  • Learn how to exhibit and promote your work so you can share them with others
  • It is by exhibiting your work that you will find an audience

Do not try to recreate the wheel

  • Instead, learn from those who know and teach how to do what you want to do
  • Get advice from those who are where you want to be 

Create a Personal Style

  • This is what will make you stand out from everyone else
  • Studying art is a fundamental aspect of developing a personal style

Remember that photographs captured in the field are only points of departure

  • To be considered art a photograph has to be modified to match your vision
  • Otherwise the photograph shows only what the camera saw, not what you saw

Do not expect success overnight

  • It takes time to do this well
  • Patience, perseverance and not giving up are the keys to success
  • You can only progress step by step

Do not overestimate talent

  • Talent is not within our control
  • Hard work and not giving up are
  • Many more succeed because of hard work than because of talent
  • We succeed because we control what we do

Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. He is the author of Mastering Landscape PhotographyMastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style, Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold. For more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials or to subscribe to his Free Monthly Newsletter, go to: