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What Does an Art Photographer Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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The term "art photographer" can refer to a number of different types of photographers, but in general, such a professional will take photos and sell them to others for enjoyment or professional applications. Unlike some other photographers, an art photographer will often focus more on the artistic expression of a photo rather than its practical purposes. Consumers who will buy such photos may utilize them for decoration in the home or office, use on a calendar or poster, or even presentation in a museum or art shop. Many photographers take such photos in addition to other types of photos to create a more varied portfolio.

Since the advent of digital photography and photo editing software for the computer, the art photographer has had far more opportunities to control the presentation of a photo. The photo can be manipulated or altered entirely in a computer program to create new types of art, or the art photographer may focus on creating artistic images without digital enhancements. Either way, the photographer's main goal is to create an image that can be appreciated for its beauty, uniqueness, quirkiness, or even its value to society. Art can, after all, be a reflection on society and the behaviors of people, so art photography can be open to interpretation by a viewer.

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The ways in which an art photographer presents his or her work and eventually sells it can vary. Some professionals choose to work on a freelance basis, opening his or her own business to accommodate various customers. Others may open an art studio in which they show their own works exclusively, or the works of others as well. Still others may work for a particular media outlet such as a magazine or website, creating images specifically to cater to a particular audience that publication serves.

Of course, some professionals may not strive to place their works in museums or art stores at all, but may instead choose to use their images for consumer products such as calendars, posters, mouse pads, computer desktop backgrounds, or even book covers. The line between commercial photography, which includes photos taken to create revenue or to be sold, and art photography is often blurred, so a savvy photographer may combine the two disciplines. A well-rounded art photographer will often create images for a wide variety of applications, from artistic to commercial, or even editorial. Event photographers can take artistic photos at weddings, proms, and other events as well.

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fingered
Post 8

@aLFredo - A photography internship is an excellent way to learn about the industry, but I would caution new photographers to realize how much their work is worth. Many people out there offer "internships" as a way to get free labor. Know when to draw the line and start turning down requests for free work.

EricRadley
Post 7

@bluespirit - There are also some websites that offer free or registered photography workshops and tutorials online. Some of them are video conferences and some are written tutorials. It's well worth a look though, since many of them are extremely useful resources.

It might also help to look up some contemporary fine art photographers and read up on how they got started in their field.

nefret
Post 6

@tolleranza - The idea of the starving art photographer is valid enough. It's a difficult field to break into and become established and often takes years of hard work. For anyone starting out, I would recommend having a backup job to help support you until "starving photographer" turns into "professional photographer".

bluespirit
Post 5

@tolleranza - I have also seen photography workshops where you take a class for maybe two days with each class consisting of a two to four hours.

In bigger cities you can find workshops to teach you fine art photographs to the art of taking pictures outdoors.

I have not taking a workshop yet, but have read very good things about it. The thing I liked about the workshops I read about was that they took you out of the classroom for a portion to let you actually take pictures!

aLFredo
Post 4

@tolleranza - I know what you mean, it seems sometimes like wishful thinking to some to make it into the art scene sometimes just because of the culture of phrases like "starving artist."

I had a friend who took an internship with a wedding photographer and the agreement was that if she did well, then the internship would turn into a paid assistant position. She really just wanted to take her picture taking ability to the next level like you, but getting experience and getting paid was even better!

She loved it! Even more I think she loved the on-the-job learning versus sitting in a classroom.

My friend came and visited me and her pictures she just took around our city were great. I have two of them hanging up in my office next to me as I type!

tolleranza
Post 3

I have loved taking photographs for as long as I can remember. I never thought to pursue it professionally; I guess I had a subconscious fear of going from starving student to starving art photographer. Too many possible years of slight starvation!

But now that I have a wonderful career that I enjoy, I have been thinking of taking my hobby of taking pictures a step further by learning some professional tips.

I am not sure how to go about this however, any suggestions?

wander
Post 2

@lonelygod - I love to take photographs while I am traveling and I like to experiment with a lot of different filters and effects on my images. I am really proud of the art I create and have been looking for a way to showcase my work without putting a lot of money into it upfront.

Your friends online store sounds like a really good way to reach a lot of people and make a bit of cash on the side. I am going to have to look into some different sites online and see which will be best one for my photographs.

lonelygod
Post 1

Anyone can be an art photographer if you have a passion for taking photos and some great ideas. My friend actually started up her own online store to sell prints of her work.

A lot of places online will let you display your photographs for free and they have built in systems that that allow people to purchase a copy of the art for a set price. Usually the company takes a certain percentage of the profit as they are supplying the actual prints.

Unless you are already well known you most likely won't make a lot selling your photographs online but it is something to try out. Who knows where you pictures may end up?

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