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Fine Art Top 15

April 1, 2010 Art, Composition, Technique 7 Comments

1 – Become an expert in light
The most important aspect of photography is not the gear you own or the techniques you use.  The most important aspect of photography is light.

2 – Compose your images carefully
Slow down
Use a viewfinder
Walk the scene
Give equal importance to all the areas of the frame
Refine your compositions progressively

3 – Study colors and contrast
Study the contrast of the scenes you photograph. Study the color palette of the scenes you photograph.

4 – Focus on quality not quantity.
The goal of Fine Art is not to create a lot of images. The goal of fine art is to make a small number of great images to be enjoyed for a long time.

5 – Master both art and technique
Fine art is about both art and technique. Do not study just one or the other. Study and practice so that you master both.

6 – Master all the aspects of Fine Art Photography
Photography is a multi-parts process. These include composition, conversion, optimization, printing, curating, exhibiting, etc. Learn how to complete each step to fine art standards.

7 – Optimize your photographs using layers in Photoshop
Don’t do all the optimization work in the raw converter.


8 – Make the final print your goal
Do not just learn how to take and optimize photographs. Learn how to print them well.  Nothing is as beautiful as a fine art print. Photographs in books, magazines, on the web, etc. are all reproductions

9 – Mat and present your work in a professional manner.
The print is not the end of the process.  A Fine Art photograph needs to be matted and framed.

10 – Focus your work and efforts on projects
Don’t photograph everything that attracts your eye. Be selective and deliberate in your choice of subject matted.

11- Share your work with others and build an audience
Do not keep your prints in boxes. Learn how to exhibit and promote your work so you can share them with others. It is by exhibiting your work that you will find an audience.

12-Do not try to recreate the wheel.
Instead, learn from those who know and teach how to do what you want to do. Get advice from those who are where you want to be.

13- Develop a Personal Style
Having a personal Style will make you stand out from everyone else

14-Do not expect success overnight
It takes time to do this well. Patience, perseverance and not giving up are the keys to success. You can only progress step by step

15-Do not overestimate talent.
Talent is not within our control.  Hard work and not giving up are.  Many more succeed because of hard work than because of talent.  We succeed because we control what we do.


This Top 15 list is part of the Top 32 List we study during our field workshops.  Consider attending one of our workshops if this first part of the list has shown you things you need to work on to improve your photography.


Alain Briot

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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Howard Grill. Howard Grill said: Alain Briot's Fine Art Top 14 Part 1: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Reflections/?p=99 […]

  2. David says:

    This is great advice. I can’t wait for the rest of the fine art top 14.
    I purchased your book, Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style. I was wondering if you could recommend a book on marketing photography.

    David Wolfe

  3. Alain Briot says:

    I don’t know of a book on Fine Art Photography Marketing that has currently valid information in my opinion. Existing books have been in print for a long time and have outdated information. Plus, they do not focus specifically on selling Fine Art Photography.

    Have you looked at my Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD? Here is the link:


    This tutorial has helped many photographers start selling their work successfully. It is based on my own experience selling my work since 1997.

  4. Johan Dermaut says:

    Hello David,

    I know a good book, take a look at Alain’s new book Marketing Fine Art Photography It is not out yet. If it is of the same quality as the two previous books of the same author, it will be a first-class book.


  5. Alain
    You say don’t do all the post-processing work in raw converter but use layers in Photoshop. My question is:-

    Now a days a raw converter like Light Room has got pretty much everything in it. Including the ability to selectively dodge-burn, selective sharpening etc. and it does all of this in non-destructive manner, as it is a parametrically driven program. And best of all it seems very intuitive to work with a program like LR, where as PS layers etc. seem to be quite intimidating to learn and use.

    Can you tell me, where in your opinion should we stop in your raw converter and begin in PS? In other words, what should we do in the raw converter and what should be done in PS layers?

    Thank you


  6. Alain Briot says:


    I only do exposure and white balance adjustments in the Raw converter. I do everything else in Photoshop using layers. In fact I also finalize exposure and white balance correction using layers because it is far more precise and controllable.

    The real question is about your goals for the optimization of your photographs. Are you looking for the quickest way to optimize your photographs or for the finest way to optimize your photographs? If you are looking for the quickest way, then doing everything you can in the raw converter is the answer. If you are looking for the finest way, then using layers in Photoshop is the answer.

    Also, whose work do you like best and whose work inspires you? If you want to optimize images the way I do and create a look comparable to mine, there is no way to do so in the raw converter at all. This is because my process is dependent on the use of layers.

    It’s a little like trying to duplicate Ansel Adams’ work but refusing to use the Zone System (the Zone System is the approach Adams designed to create the look he wanted for his images. Think of it as Adams’ “layers” in the darkroom).
    This is simply not possible, because there is no way to control tonality the way Adams’ controlled it without using the Zone System.

    This is the same with layers. I am fully aware that Raw converters can complete a lot of image processing functions. The reason why I don’t do eveerything in the raw converter is not because I am not aware of this fact! The reason why I don’t is because it does nto give me the results I seek. I need layers to do what I want to do, just like Adams needed the Zone System.

    Obviously, using the Zone System was a lot more work for Adams than simply developing and printing his photographs like everyone else did in his days! Yet, he went through the extra trouble because of the control, and the very fine result, that the Zone System gave him. As I mention at the start of my answer, your goals define your approach.

  7. Nagaraj Pudukotai says:

    Thank you very much for your explanation, that makes a lot of “why” clearer to me. I think now the ultimate proof of it for me would be to learn and “do it” with layers in PS. I am aware it is a steep curve, I will get there one day.

    Thanks once again.


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