How to Make Your Photos Artistic, Part I

Radovan Semančík, May 2010

Ever wondered what is the secret of the artistic expression in photography. There are some proven methods how to improve your photos, how to make them into a true art. Following paragraphs reveal few secrets that were up until now closely guarded in professional photography community.

Black and White

Black and white photos are the most basic artistic technique. It was used by the photographers from the very beginning of it. What could be more artistic? Simply convert your dull and uninteresting photos to black and white and it will become art! It is that simple. Please note that converting to black and white goes well with other artistic techniques, therefore use it a lot. Even more that that. Use every opportunity. Black and white rules.

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You do not need good camera. Any old thing will do. If you happen to have decent camera, at least turn off auto-focus. Make sure you have low depth of field and don't bother focusing on anything. Try crappy lens. The worse the better. Or no lens at all. Pinhole is simple and efficient to create the right artistic effect. As an advanced technique try to set a long exposure and shake the camera during exposure. You will get very artistic abstract images. Don't worry that you do not know the meaning of the picture, the audience will help you find it out. Just make sure you add unusual title and never ever admit that you have no idea what the photograph means.

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Grainy photos have atmosphere. More grain, more atmosphere. Therefore do what you can to increase grain. Increase ISO setting, shoot in darkness and if everything else fails add digital grain in photoshop. Grain is sexy. Grain adds "feelings" to the picture. Combine it with black-and-white and blur for extra artistic impression.

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Do you have two uninteresting unrelated photos? Great! Combine them in a highly-appreciated artistic form of diptych. Just launch your favorite photo editor and glue them together. Let the audience figure out what you wanted to say by such an unusual combination of photos. Just be careful not to reveal that you have no idea whatsoever so to what you wanted to say by such combination. Add a decent border for extra artistic impression. If you want to create post-modern composition, do not bother with matching the size of the photos. Add even more photos to create triptych and polyptych. More pictures, more art.


Real photo artists shoot on film. Don't get bothered by the fact that you cannot tell apart film and digital photography. The digital just does not have the right "feel" to it. To be a real photo artist you need to purchase inferior but famous, old and expensive film-based camera. It will produce black-and-white and unsharp photos with a lot of grain, therefore it will make them triple-artistic without any extra work. If you cannot afford antique camera, any film-based thing will do. If developing films bothers you don't hesitate to shoot digital. Just use some crazy photoshop filters to ruin your photo in post-process. You can claim that you used film and the result is a unique darkroom experiment with push-process. Don't forget to add extra grain!

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... to be continued ...

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