This Dress Did Not Exist

The Fine Art Side of Photography


Let’s talk about the art side of photography. What makes your portrait “Fine Art?” I could give you a dictionary definition or dive into what makes art well- art. I think that it would be much more fun to show you what it means to me. I am going to share behind the scenes of creating the above portrait and how photography like painting, designing, or drawing is an art form. I am also going to share how you can create your own fine art photography.



Gathering Ideas

I had a vision in my mind of a vague idea for a portrait. It started with fans, gold lines, and playing with color combinations. I knew that the dress would be white but I didn’t know exactly how it would look. I am not Picasso with the pen but getting ideas on paper helps me to start thinking of possibilities. I looked at some of my favorite photographers for inspiration and continued playing with the idea in my head for a while. Art to me is about intention. It’s making choices to frame something or nothing in a particular way. When deciding on what you may want to photograph as fine art consider playing with sketches, color palettes, textures, and more. Collect these elements in one place so your brain can start imagining where your photo will go.


Creating The Canvas

The day came to shoot the portrait and I was nervous and excited. I am always nervous to do a good job but excited to make a new piece of work. When you think of a blank canvas you may think of a white plain piece of paper. For me, my canvas is an unedited photo. How I compose the subject, light, fabric, and exposure all create the base for a polished portrait. Having the basic sketch in mind helped me to walk with some confidence and guidance as we took photos. Photography is in part a time-based artform. I am composing a moment that will not exist exactly the same way ever again. I began to play with fabric and the train of a bridal gown letting my initial idea morph. As the picture became clearer in my mind I began to work with more excitement and my friend posing went along for the ride. It looked crazy but I saw the vision. Having a plan is important but considering the environment, you are in when you are photographing is just as important. There may be something special about that moment and as an artist, you can decide how you want to incorporate the uniqueness of the moment into your work. Street photographers capture unplanned uncanny moments of humanity. Landscape photographers capture the fleeting daylight, clouds, or weather. Photo Journalists capture history as it happens. As a fine art photographer, you tell the story and frame it for the audience leading them on a journey.


Finishing Touches 

After the session was done I uploaded my photos at home and looked through them. I looked at the expression, color, and reflections and began the polishing stages for the portrait. I considered making the gown a different color, creating a really full fluffy dress with insane volume but decided on adding just a touch more shape. I like to collaborate with the subject of the portrait so I spent a lot of time going back and forth with some questions with my friend in the photo. I listened to her thoughts and incorporated them into the final portrait so that we both agreed that it looked great! Getting feedback as you finish your art piece is incredibly helpful for navigating if the image is saying what you would like it to say. In my case, I wanted to play with shape and texture without looking bridal.  My friend’s collaboration helped me to make the finishing touches with the right emphasis and detail. Check out some of the processes as I transform the finishing touches. You can see me going back and forth on the pink but in the end, the contrast of the white won.




Art Is…

Art is intention, invention, creation, and experimentation. That is what I do. I construct and build and at the end of it, all my hope is that you see an amazing person presented beautifully. You may never know all of the behind-the-scenes steps and that is ok. Part of the joy is in the process. I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look! If you want to collaborate on an art piece or commission please email or click here.

Join the conversation about how 6 hours of drawing class taught me a lot on the latest episode of The Creativity Cure Podcast here.


What is your creative process? DM me on social media or email bethany@bethanyjphotography.

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