Aesthetics is a term commonly used in the world of art. In definition, it is about the concept concerned with the appreciation or emphasis on beauty, whether on an object, a person, or a scene. In other words, it’s how people talk about beauty all around them.
However, in photography, aesthetics is more than just “taste.” Aesthetic photography also explores how an artwork is created and how observers feel about this creation. In this article, we’ll talk about aesthetic photography. If it’s your first time encountering this photography genre, we’ll also help introduce this to you through helpful tips and tricks.
Let’s start by defining what aesthetics is in the world of photography.
What is Aesthetic Photography?
In aesthetic photography, the photographer’s primary goal is to capture the visual beauty of the photo’s subject, be it a person, an object, or scenery. Since it is derived from art concept, it mainly focuses on “beauty” and how to curate a visually pleasing photograph.
Moreover, aesthetic images, like art pieces, are curated and conceptualised to make viewers feel something. It’s a highly specialised type of photography with images carefully planned to deliver a message or an emotion when viewers look at the image.
To do this, aesthetic photos make use of similar elements employed when creating an artwork. Let’s talk about these elements in the following sections.
How to Compose an Aesthetic Photography Image
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional photographer, getting into aesthetic photography can be tricky. However, if you know your art and photography composition basics, you’re halfway there.
In this section, we’ll help you compose your first aesthetic photography photo. To do that, you have to remember these important elements. Try to apply each of them in your shot and see the difference that it can make.
1. Using Colors in Aesthetic Photography
Colors are an integral part of aesthetic photography. Artists in every field are aware of the ability of colors to evoke different emotions and tell stories. For example, the color red often symbolizes passion and power, while the color blue induces feelings of tranquility.
Aside from the emotional associations of individual colors, artists also pay close attention to the combination of all the colors used in the image, also known as the color scheme. A basic understanding of color theory will go a long way toward ensuring that your color scheme creates the right mood for your aesthetic.
Color theory can help you come up with combinations of analogous, complementary or monochromatic colors that will communicate the message you want to send with your photography.
The best way to apply what you learned in composing aesthetic images that focus on the emotions of colors, you can try aesthetic flower photography.
What is aesthetic flower photography? Flowers and their states are commonly used symbols to represent a long list of human experiences. The decaying or blooming roses, for instance, represent death and life, respectively. Flowers, with their delicate and dreamy forms, are also associated with purity and beauty. Using these representations, think of how your choice of colors can add another layer to these symbols.
2. Choosing the Subject in Aesthetic Photography
Choosing the subject in aesthetic photography is a very significant part of your planning stage. Since it’s the focus of your frame, your viewers will be drawn to it immediately. It’s what sets the first impressions, so make sure to choose right.
For example, if you want to choose a natural landscape as your subject, think of what this image can deliver to your viewers.
A. Aesthetic Landscape Photography
Nature is naturally beautiful but we’re too familiar with the images of nature that typical nature photos have lost their appeal. So how will you stand out and create something aesthetic? Focus on one goal: compose it so that your viewer will be transported to another place the moment they lay their eyes on your image.
Take advantage of light or the absence of it. Use the natural elements, like water and wind, choose uniquely shaped terrain, and capture the raw chaos of randomness of nature to create a photo with an ethereal quality.
You can try aesthetic beach photography as a good beginner practice. The beach offers some of the best visuals that you can find in a landscape aesthetic photography shoot. Aside from the blueness of the sea and the golden sands of the shores, you can take advantage of the textures and patterns of seashells, rock formations, greeneries, and of course, the sky.
Aesthetic beach photography experts also suggest shooting during the Golden Hour, that is, sunrise or sunset. At these times, although short, the sky and everything that the sunlight touches, is softer and redder. Such images can easily evoke the feeling of new hope or nostalgia, depending on how you compose your shot.
B. Aesthetic Portrait Photography
Nature is a great landscape photography subject but if your portfolio focuses on human or wildlife portraits, you have more opportunities to explore these subjects’ aesthetic qualities.
People, for example, have different personalities that you can highlight in your shots. These include their youth or maturity, their lifestyle or career, your relationship with them, or even the qualities that make them so unique from everyone else.
In capturing aesthetic photos of wildlife, you can focus on how they are in their natural habitat. Capture them in motion, while hunting for their prey or caring for their young. Aside from giving your viewers a glimpse of their human-like qualities and traits, you are also capturing something so aesthetically captivating.
C. Capturing Both Portrait and Landscape Aesthetics
If you want to focus on both portrait and landscape aesthetics photography, you can. The great outdoors has a lot to offer to help you capture aesthetic landscapes and wildlife portraits, especially aesthetics lights that are rarely captured by a camera. As long as you have everything you need in your camera bag, and hopefully, the new skills to take on aesthetic photography after reading this article, you’re good to go!
Speaking of camera equipment, here’s a pro tip for you: did you know that you can also use MIOPS Smart+ in taking aesthetic photography? MIOPS, the intuitive camera trigger that can be controlled using a mobile application on your smartphone, can help you capture the most fascinating aesthetic scenes in the wild.
MIOPS Smart+ has a timelapse mode that helps you record timelapse videos and sequences of photos of mesmerising scenes for hours. The smart trigger highlights functions, such as automatically adjusting your camera’s exposure according to the changing light source.
If you want to capture rare and aesthetic sightings of wildlife, the MIOPS Sound Mode allows your camera to independently take a shot whenever a sound event, like a roar of a tiger or a lion, a rattle of a deadly snake, or a bird flapping its wings, is detected. Cool, right? Leave it to your remote trigger to activate the shutter remotely!
Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!
3. Balancing Light and Dark Variances in Aesthetic Photography
Also known as contrast, the balance and play between light and dark is an art and photography element that can add depth to your images. By mastering how to manipulate and control the contrast of your photos, you can direct the viewer’s eyes and guide them on how to “see” your photo. How?
Contrast emphasizes the subject and its background’s shapes and sharpness. The stronger the contrast is, the sharper and bolder the area of the image is, visually. It is the opposite of “affinity” or the lack of distinguishable patterns in an image.
Controlling both contrast and affinity by manipulating the balance of dark and light elements in your shot can create varying emotional responses.
For instance, high-contrast photos feel more intense and more dramatic. On the other hand, low-contrast images look calmer. In other words, if you want to deliver a feeling that is bold and strong, aim for high-contrast images. If you want to achieve a peaceful and serene image, affinity or low-contrast images are ideal.
4. Mastering Lighting Techniques for Aesthetic Photography
Light is one of the most important components of photography, and has a profound influence on the aesthetic of your image. The same setting and subject can look dramatically different depending on the quality and direction of the light. Hard light creates brightly illuminated subjects against a dark background, such as when a flash is used. Diffused light, on the other hand, softens shadows and gives a more natural-looking result for portrait photography.
The direction of lighting also has a substantial impact on the aesthetic of your subject. Positioning your subject directly in front of the light source will minimize textures, which can give a portrait subject a smooth, flawless appearance. A photographer may want this aesthetic for a fashion shoot; however, some types of portraiture emphasize each individual’s unique facial features. Side lighting is the best way to achieve a three-dimensional image, because of the shadowing created by the directional light.
The most effective way to figure out your ideal lighting setup is to experiment as much as possible. Try using a combination of natural light, studio lights and flashes to find out what works best for your type of aesthetic photography.
5. Playing with the Potentials of Exposure in Aesthetic Photography
Aesthetic photography is extremely different from other types of photography, in terms of how it deals with exposure values. For example, in a typical landscape photo, having your image overexposed is a big NO-NO! Overexposure renders these photos useless and a waste of opportunity.
However, aesthetic photographers see the opposition. For them, learning from the lessons of over-exposed and under-exposed photos, the often rejected shots, provides them with limitless potential for creativity. How?
A. Intentional Underexposure as an Aesthetic Photography Technique
Intentional underexposure or overexposure is an effective technique that many aesthetic photographers often take advantage of. For instance, overexposed images, with their overwhelming light and glare, create an otherworldly effect on the image. The seemingly dark scene emphasizes the only spot hit by the light, to form a ghostly and mysterious sight.
B. Purposeful Overexposure as an Aesthetic Photography Technique
Overexposing your images means letting more light into your image. This abundance of light somehow imitates the overwhelming brightness of the ethereal and surreal landscapes often found in fantasy books. You can combine this effect with a relevant subject that takes advantage of this dramatic and edgy aesthetic.
6. Framing the Perfect Focus in Aesthetic Photography
Focus and framing in photography are pretty straightforward when it comes to aesthetic photography. When the subject is in good focus, you’ll get detailed and crisp images. An out of focus image, on the other hand, gives you a soft and blurry effect. The focused portion of the frame also comes forward while the blurry part recedes in the background. It gives two-dimensional photos a three-dimensional feel, and you can take advantage of this effect.
If you want to tell a story using the concept of focus, break the rules. Focus on the object, the elements on your image, that you want to be highlighted.
Photographers who want to improve their food photography aesthetics often take advantage of the element of focus to create more interesting product photos. Instead of choosing a blank background and putting the food, their subject, in the frame as the highlight, they use blurs and out-of-focus techniques to create a story.
For example, to enhance the food photography aesthetics of a simple cup of coffee, why not curate a coffee table scene that tells the story of how coffee drinkers, their potential customers, actually experience this globally loved beverage?
7. Accentuating Textures in Aesthetic Photography
Using textures is one of the most effective ways to create an aesthetic photograph that stands out. However, it’s also one of the aspects of photography that tends to be overlooked. Texture is a multi-sensory element that we can physically touch, as well as experience visually. Well-defined textures in a photograph can make the viewer “feel” the object with their eyes, which creates a powerful connection.
As we’ve discussed in this article, the directionality and quality of light play a significant part in creating textures. Ideally, you’ll use side lighting to highlight textures, making sure to minimize diffusion. Another key element is the focus setting. Sharp focus is necessary for accentuating textures. Used correctly, this can create a striking effect for an aesthetic photograph.
8. Balancing Composition in Aesthetic Photography
Humans are naturally drawn to harmonious visual compositions. Knowing how to use symmetry and balance is essential for an aesthetic photograph. A well-composed photograph not only emphasizes the subject but also draws the viewer’s interest and takes them on a journey through all the significant elements of the photograph.
Asymmetrical balance is a compositional technique that can create a highly appealing aesthetic photograph, based on rules that may be familiar to you, such as the golden ratio and the rule of thirds. With this technique, your subject is not placed in the middle but is balanced by other elements in the image. A consistent color palette will help to keep the image in harmony,
So there you have it, the eight elements and techniques that will help you get started in your aesthetic photography journey. Remember that aesthetic photography defies some of the traditional concepts of basic photography. The uniqueness and perfection of your shot will depend on the story that you want to tell and how you deliver it to your audience. Have fun!
Blog Credit: Charm Villalon
Charm is a writer and a visual artist. Her drive to share ideas and stories is evident in her background in communication arts and language studies. Years of professional experience in content creation have given her a broad proficiency with the process of engaging online communities. An appreciation for multiple languages and cultures drives her to seek out experiences and capture these moments through her writing, digital art, and photography.