8 tips for artsy photos that sell

Using examples from talented 500px Contributors, we’ve compiled these quick tips for creating artsy photos that also sell in a commercial market. The post 8 tips for artsy photos that sell appeared first on 500px.

8 tips for artsy photos that sell

In 1975, Richard Avedon opened an exhibition of 100 photographs at Marlborough Gallery on 57th Street in New York City. The public wondered and speculated — would he leave behind his lucrative career as a commercial photographer for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to pursue art full-time?

The answer, of course, was no. Avedon would continue to pursue both fine art and commercial photography. “I would never not want to be a fashion photographer,” he told The New York Times just before the exhibition. “My commercial work has made it possible for me to be my own Ford Foundation, my own Guggenheim.” The money he made as a commercial photographer fueled and funded his private life as an artist.

Even today, we make distinctions between “fine art” and “commercial” photography, and there’s a reason for that. Commercial photography is used to sell something, while art comes from an innate desire to create. But sometimes, this boundary can feel too rigid.

Last month, we interviewed two prominent gallerists working in New York City today. One of them noted that commercial photographers can transition into the realm of fine art, and the other commented on how he’s learned to see the artistry in some commercial photography — particularly fashion. They got us thinking — how can photographers stay true to their artistic voice while still creating marketable work?

Using examples from talented 500px Contributors around the world, we’ve compiled these quick tips for creating artsy photos that also sell in a commercial market.

Use more color

In the 1970s, color was considered the sole domain of advertisers — not artists — but these days, we know bright hues are equally at home in magazines and art museums.

While there are top-selling black and white photos, these are exceptions and not the rule. It is possible to create a commercially viable monochrome photo, but for the most part, color images are more versatile and give buyers more options after downloading.

Alina by Tatiana Koshutina on 500px.com

When we suggest using more color, we don’t mean applying heavy filters or post-processing effects — two things that can actually hurt the sale of an image. Instead, we recommend playing with bold colors in your studio and fashion work. This year’s trending colors are eye-catching hues like corals and golds — plus electric neons like pink and lime.

Make it sharp

Back in the early 1900s, pictorialist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz used soft-focus lenses to get that artsy, impressionistic look. While we always recommend embracing new lenses and playing with different apertures, stock photos have to be in focus.

That means your subject has to be sharp and clear if you want to sell your photos through 500px and its distributors, but there are certainly ways to get creative. In the still life below, for example, Iordache Laurentiu has used a shallow depth of field to blur the background, all while keeping the lemon (and ice cream cone) in focus.

Lemon fruit in ice cream cone by Iordache Lauren?iu on 500px.com

Get retro

From the renaissance of film photography to popular remakes of movies and TV shows of decades past, it’s clear that nostalgia is “in” in 2019.

We see it in the art world in the resurgence of tactile, handmade collages and zines, and we also see it in commercial photography — just in a slightly different form. In order to give those retro-vibes a modern edge, make sure to use a clean composition and those bright colors we mentioned earlier.

ELU by Milton Smith on 500px.com

The photo above is from a session between Los Angeles-based art director and photographer Milton Smith and recording artist Elujay. As they’re both creative people, they wanted to do something artistic and out-of-the-box, but they also wanted it to be appropriate for Elujay’s upcoming album release. The result is an oldies-inspired theme with a contemporary aesthetic.

Think symbolically

In art, there’s no need to think literally — or to represent the world as it actually is. The same holds true for commercial photography, and in stock, there’s been a movement towards conceptual images. Some stock photos illustrate objects and events, but if you can give your photo a greater symbolic resonance, it will appeal to even more buyers.

The Boss by Péter Heged?s on 500px.com

The wildlife photo above by Péter Hegedus is showing European bee-eaters, but because the alpha male is stretching his wings — it could also illustrate abstract, complex concepts like non-conformity or bossiness.

Go abstract

Fine art photographers throughout history, ranging from László Moholy-Nagy to Wolfgang Tillmans, have experimented with abstract forms and compositions. Abstract photos also work well in stock because buyers can use them for almost anything, from web banners to backgrounds.

bubbles by Slava Ivanov on 500px.com

Play around with abstract compositions by bringing out the macro lens or a microscope, or alternatively, fly a drone or helicopter to capture those sweeping aerial views.

Gradients by Aidan Campbell on 500px.com

Keep it minimal

Minimalism was born in the art world in the 1960-70s with abstract art pioneers — like Frank Stella, Robert Morris, and Agnes Martin. Back then it was radical, but today it’s everywhere. Thanks to innovative brands like Apple, minimalism has found its way into the commercial realm, and stock photo agencies have seen minimalist compositions thrive throughout recent years.

White Walls Abstract 3 by Peter Liversidge on 500px.com

Combine your artistic impulses and commercial acumen by simplifying your compositions and getting rid of any extraneous elements. Clients appreciate negative space in their stock photos because it allows them to add their own text and designs.

blue glass by Guy Lambrechts on 500px.com

Be bold

In last month’s article about fine art photography, we discussed the importance of creating work that’s personal — and that takes a stand somehow, whether it’s social or political. While commercial photography might once have had a reputation for “staying safe,” stock agencies are noticing a demand for photographs that feel more honest and diverse.

Ziningi by Bongani Dlamini on 500px.com

Inclusivity and sustainability are trending. Don’t be afraid to tackle a controversial subject, and find a way to weave your values into the work you shoot — artistically and commercially.

Visit galleries and museums for inspiration

It’s important to study commercial photography and stay up-to-date on trends, but some of the best stock photographers in the business also make a point of seeking inspiration in the fine arts. Adding beautiful Rembrandt-style lighting could elevate an ordinary portrait subject, making it stand out to art-lovers and image-buyers alike.

Sneaking Cat by João Domingues on 500px.com

When it comes to cat photos, stock agencies are spoilt for choice, but the portrait by João Domingues above is something special. Captured when the artist’s cat was hiding from his four-year-old daughter, it uses light and shadow to create drama and visual interest.

Not on 500px yet? Sign up here to explore more impactful photography.

The post 8 tips for artsy photos that sell appeared first on 500px.

Source : 500px More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

How to use balance in photography

A balanced image is any image with two sides of the same or similar weight, so that the eye is drawn to both sides equally. The post How to use balance in photography appeared first on 500px.

How to use balance in photography

Perfectly balanced compositions are everywhere these days, with trending hashtags like #symmetricalmonsters, #symmetrykillers, and #symmetryhunters drawing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to more than one million posts online. The hugely popular Instagram account @symmetrybreakfast has a cookbook available worldwide, while @geometryclub—a page with tens of thousands of followers of its own—accepts regular submissions of perfectly-aligned architecture.

Why are balanced compositions so satisfying, and what does it take to create one? Perceptual psychologists like Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007) have spent decades studying balance in art, but we’ll keep it simple for now. Balance is influenced, in part, by visual weight. An object’s visual weight might come down to its size (e.g., larger objects weigh more) as well its hue (e.g., red objects are heavier than blue ones).

Detailed and intricate objects—like those in focus in a photograph—can have more weight than those that aren’t as sharp or detailed. An object’s weight also varies based on its location within the frame; objects close to the edges of the frame appear to weigh more than objects near the center. Isolated subjects are heavier than those closely surrounded by others, and regular shapes are more likely to feel heavy than irregular ones.

A balanced image is any image with two sides of the same or similar weight, so that the eye is drawn to both sides equally. An imbalanced one will have one side that’s heavier than the other, creating a visual tension that’s hard to resolve. Both are useful, depending on the meaning and style of your work.

In many photographs, a balanced composition represents an ideal, particularly if it’s left-right balance—that is, the photo has equal weight on both sides when bisected laterally. As humans, we’re bilaterally symmetrical, so these compositions “make sense” to us.

Formal balance—also called symmetrical balance—is a good place to start. In a picture that’s formally balanced, as you might expect, the left and right sides of the frame are nearly identical. Unless you’re cloning elements or creating composites on your computer, it’s unlikely that you’ll get both halves to match up exactly (pixel-for-pixel), but near-mirror images exist everywhere, from the human face to architecture to landscapes.

As with any kind of balance, formal balance isn’t a rule to be followed but a creative tool to be implemented as needed. Symmetrical compositions usually result in feelings of calm and tranquility; you can find them often in religious artwork for this reason. In the case of the photo above, the photographer uses formal balance to express the serenity of the scene itself, lily pads and all.

When discussing balance, you might also hear photographers refer to mosaic—or crystallographic—balance. Photographs with mosaic balance tend to look like some kinds of abstract art (e.g., Jackson Pollock paintings) or designs (e.g., prints or wallpaper). They have a mesmerizing “all-over” quality, and the repetition of shapes and colors results in balance.

One more type of balance that sometimes falls under the symmetrical category is radial balance, which is exactly what it sounds like: a composition with radial balance includes a circular shape, extending from the center of gravity. It’s found in flowers, seashells, star trails, buildings, and more, so it’s a tried-and-true favorite of nature and architecture photographers.

That all makes sense, but it begs the question: Why does anyone follow the “rule of thirds” when they could go for symmetrical balance instead?

One potential answer is that many classic “rule of thirds” shots are asymmetrically—or informally—balanced. They’re not symmetrical, but both sides might still have equal visual weight. You can achieve informal balance by using any combination of those elements we discussed earlier: size, color, texture, etc.

In this photo above, for example, the subject stands to the right-hand side, attracting the eye off-center, but the billowing red skirt in the foreground provides an intriguing counterpoint on the left, resulting in a dynamic but balanced image.

The skirt also provides a nice parallel to the red wall in the back, directly opposite. Were you to clone out that skirt, the photo would be heavily weighted to the right, with both the model and the pop of red drawing our eyes in that direction.

Similarly, in the image above, the child running in the shadows takes up most of the right-hand side of the frame, but by introducing the two smaller, brightly-lit children—seen in the square in the distance on the left—the artist has created a balanced composition.

Crop out that critical detail (the square of light), and the photo would appear to be “tilting” to the right. This is almost always the case with balanced images; every element is necessary and has a purpose; without it, the composition wouldn’t be as strong.

Of course, all this isn’t to say that imbalance doesn’t have a place in photography. On the contrary, it can be just as powerful a tool as balance when yielded properly.

One of the most well-known conflict photographs, , created by the photojournalist Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War, has distinct moments of imbalance: the loyalist soldier, who’s just been shot and killed an instant earlier, takes up the left-hand side of the frame. On the right, there’s nothing by empty land and sky.

The photograph was shocking at the time, and even all these years later, in a world filled with images of violence, it’s just as disturbing. More balance within the composition might help assuage those feelings of fear, but that’s not what Capa did; as the story goes, he didn’t even look through the viewfinder to compose the shot.

There’s nothing in the photo to anchor the soldier or counter his visual weight—no tree, no sun, no birds—but perhaps it would be wrong to create order and balance from such a violent scene. As it is, the soldier’s fate is never quite resolved; he’s suspended in the air, and he will remain suspended forever. This kind of imbalance might be rare in photography, but it packs a powerful gut-punch.

Perhaps the photojournalist Sameer Al-Doumy does something similar in The remnants of childhood (pictured above), part of his documentation of the civil war in Syria. The large, bright pink teddy bear is in focus, giving the right side more visual weight than the left. While various details do provide balance to the overall composition, this moment of imbalance conveys a sense of disruption and unrest; in this case, mirroring the loss of childhood amid ongoing conflict.

Balance in photography is often discussed in absolutes or concrete “facts,” but the truth is that it can be subjective as well. As Arnheim proposed in his seminal book , there could be factors affecting weight and balance that we don’t yet grasp. For example, our desires or fears could influence our perception of balance, and the perceived weight of an object might change based on what frightens or compels us.

Balance—and for that matter, imbalance—aren’t necessarily valuable in and of themselves; they’re important because we can use them to convey a larger meaning. Whenever we look at a photograph, our knowledge and experiences inevitably inform our interpretations of the artist’s visual statement.

As perceptual psychology and photography continue to evolve, we might discover fresh ways to achieve balance or imbalance, making this field fertile ground for experimentation. We recommend trying out several compositions every time you take pictures; study them on the computer, and see what happens as you crop your photo or adjust hues and saturation to draw attention to certain areas. A simple compositional change could ultimately transform the meaning at the heart of your work.

Not on 500px yet? Sign up here to explore more impactful photography.

The post How to use balance in photography appeared first on 500px.

Source : 500px More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.