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Photography is a highly creative artform but it relies on the technical possibilities that are available, both in terms of the photographer’s knowledge and the camera and equipment itself.
This leaves you, as a photographer, with a difficult conundrum – how far can you push the creative aspects of photography without skipping on the technical aspects of the artform?
What Is The Difference Between A Creative And A Technical Photo?
Before we continue, it’s important to understand the difference between a creative, or artistic, photo and a technically good one. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive but having an understanding of their main features will help you to determine when it’s best to use them.
The truth is though, that your audience is unlikely to look at one of your photos and comment on the ISO settings, aperture or the shutter speed that you chose to use, unless they are a fellow photographer, in which case they just might!
However, your normal audience will be pretty unaware of the ways that settings can influence the photo and so they generally judge an image by how it makes them feel and if they like it. It’s your job as a photographer to handle the details and just let your viewers enjoy the experience of seeing your work!
What Are The Circumstances Where Your Shot Has To Be Technically Good As Opposed To Creative?
As a photographer, no matter what genre you’re working in, you always have to be conscious of your audience and, if you’re working in a professional capacity, the requirements of your clients.
There are many occasions when you should be focusing primarily on the technical aspects of the image more than the creative perspectives of it. Any genre of photography which is primarily about communicating a clear and simple message is going to be more heavily focused on the technicalities of the photos.
For instance, if you are taking real estate photography then you should be concentrating on getting the technical side of the shots just right. In real estate photography, your clients will want clear and simple photos that give potential buyers a realistic view of the property instead of overly creative avant garde style shots.
This doesn’t mean that there is no room for creativity though, even in real estate photography. You can still include props, such as cushions, flower vases or rugs, in the shot to make the photo more flattering while still keeping the technicalities perfect!
Fundamentally, you need to be aware of the audience you are creating the photos for and the needs of your clients. In other situations, when you are working on a personal project you can really let your creativity run wild!
Technical Photography – What Is It?
Technical photography refers to images which are expertly taken by using the correct settings, lighting and compositions to portray what you have envisioned. This is not an easy thing to achieve and requires a good camera as well as years of practise and experience.
A technically good photo will have crystal clear focus, well placed elements and a nice composition of colors, light and form. You’ll need to have an innate understanding of the way you can use lighting and composition but you’ll also have the skills and training to use post production techniques to the best effect. A technical photographer pays close attention to every aspect of the process of taking a photo and will have a clean and polished finish to their work.
Creative Photography – What Is It?
Creative photography is a far more difficult genre to define because, by its very nature, it’s a hard thing to pin down! There’s no limit to the human imagination and the ways that it can express itself and the fact that you’re using a camera to do so does not limit its potential.
Creative photographers see their work as a highly personalized artform and often ignore the ‘rules’ and make just up their own as they go! Artistic, or creative photos, may have blurred bokeh backgrounds, use unusual angles and perspectives and focus on the way the image makes them feel rather than clearly expressing the form and color of their subjects.
Creativity requires a constant pushing of the boundaries which makes this a fascinating genre to study and take inspiration from. So when you’re working in a creativity capacity trust your instincts and never stop experimenting.
Considerations When Distinguishing Between Creative And Technical Photography.
As we mentioned, there is no reason why a photo can’t be both technically proficient and creative; and so the boundary between the two types is always going to be a little bit blurred.
However, when you are approaching a new project you should be clear what your objectives are. Functional photography, such as real estate, catalog or formal portraits will be primarily focused on achieving technical perfection. More abstract, artistic and expressive images can be considered to be creative.
In many cases, you can balance the two approaches to create powerful images so never allow yourself to feel restricted by overly strict definitions or rules. For example, a technical photo can be perfectly clear and well executed but still cold, lifeless and lacking in authenticity if it ignores the creative side; although in many situations this might be what your client is wanting.
Photography – The Diverse Art Of Drawing With Light.
You should always take the time to learn how to use your camera and then never stop learning and studying more. There’s always something you can learn and taking inspiration from photographers you admire is a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated and your work feeling vibrant and fresh.
Photography is the art, from the ancient Greek word, of drawing with light and if you can’t do that effectively your photos won’t come out very well.
As you develop your skills using the camera you’ll soon become more comfortable with the process and taking pictures will become second nature to you. You’ll instinctively know what the approximate settings are that you should be using, whether you need artificial lighting or a change of lens.
However, there’s much more to it than that because you also need to be able to insert your own personal vision and creativity to your work to make it stand out. But without the basic skills and knowledge about your camera you won’t be able to express anything at all in an impactful way. So getting a solid foundation in the technical aspects of photography is absolutely essential and must come first before you start to get really creative.
It’s only once you are comfortable using your camera in its manual mode that you can start to be more creative in your work. Pulling off a great slow shutter speed image, for example, is difficult and you’ll have to understand the Exposure Triangle to get the settings right while expressing your creative vision.
Express Your Creativity Without Sacrificing Technically Proficiency.
Once you are confident with your camera and can fully utilize it’s capabilities you can begin to think about the best ways of balancing creativity and technical prowess.
Always try to push past what you at first think is the right way to do something and experiment with the creative potentials of your subjects and the composition. Of course, you don’t need to sacrifice your technical knowledge to do this and if anything you’ll be expanding your technical understanding of photography as a whole, something which will benefit you in all future projects and assignments.
As your skills progress and your creativity is easier to express you’ll start to think of the camera as an extension of your personality. This is the ideal position to be in and as you continue to grow you’ll be able to strike the right balance between creativity and technicalities.