Basics of fine-art photography/Creating works in style of pictorialism

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Elegy, 2009

Pictorialism is a movement in photographic art, whose proponents, by manipulating the original image, give it additional features of artistry, as a result of which the photograph becomes similar to painting.

General information

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The style of photographic art,, whose name comes from the word "pictorial", arose in the West at the end of the 19th century; it was a reaction to the recognition of photography as a static display of reality that had nothing to do with art. Probably, in those years, the concept “photo artist” (that is, a master of artistic photography) was born.

As a rule, in photographs belonging to this style, the image is blurred to one degree or another, which contrasts them with straight photography; and the shades are monochromatic, ranging from browns to pale blues.

Ways of implementation

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The 21st century, in contrast to the period when the style was born, offers the author a wide range of opportunities for photo processing: first of all — a variety of graphic editors, however, “grandfather methods” can also be used if desired. At the same time, you need to remember that the original photo work must contain elements of artistry, otherwise post-processing will be powerless.

Blurry contours, ambient lighting, smooth transitions, preference for night and foggy scenes - these factors will help you in your work. For shooting, you should choose landscapes, portraits, nudes — these are the themes that prevailed in the works of the founders of the style.

I would like to remind you that this manual is intended to familiarize you with the basics of photographic art. Those who wish to study the subject in depth, including the historical premices to the emergence of the style, may refer to the encyclopedic article.

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See also

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Creating stylized retro photo works — educational article about the genre of photography, which has similarities with pictorialism.