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Art in Photography | Day 20

So, we’ve gotten pretty technical together. The reasons I chose to tackle technicalities first are pretty obvious – it’s much, much easier to teach someone how to work a machine than how to be artistic. Teaching you to have an eye for composition or see art in the everyday is a much greater task – and beyond the scope of 31 days of blog posts. And at the end of the day, what I perceive as beautiful and artistic may not appeal to you at all. And vice versa.

This post is littered with some of my favorite photos of my boys. Not one is technically perfect, and they were chosen for this post partially because of that but mostly in spite of that.

bday reaction expression in photography

Keep this in mind about technical versus artistic…

You may get it all right – the f-stops, the aperture, the shutter speed. You may have nailed exposure and made an absolutely perfect image, technically… you might have invested in great equipment… taken workshops and studied great photographers…

and your client / friend might prefer the camera-phone shot her mother-in-law took on the fly in the worst shooting conditions imaginable.

brotherly whispers

There’s just no telling why people fall in love with the images they do. It’s emotional, it’s memorable, it’s the experience… it’s definitely much more than the sum of f-stops and shutter speeds. Now, I don’t say that to undermine the previous days of this series. Knowing how to get it right in-camera matters. But it won’t replace the reasons why people love photography to being with.

The technical aspects of photography are simply tools to make the images you love and plan to take anyway that much better.

I want to spend a few days talking about the artistic, the beautiful, the memorable. We’ve barely skimmed the surface of the soul of the art. Yes, there are rules. Yes, you may break them. But!

You should break rules with intention, not ignorance. And therein lies the art in photography.

trouble jumping

According to Wikipedia, the Elements of Design are:

“Line – the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece
Shape – areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic
Color – hues with their various values and intensities
Texture – surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions
Form – 3-D length, width, or depth
Value – Shading used to emphasize form
Space – the space taken up by (positive) or in between (negative) objects”

Here are a few examples using those elements in photos. Is it necessary to use one of all those? No. Knowing how you want to compose your photo is about intention. It’s about creative placement, attention to detail, and arranging the subject matter in a way that emphasizes what you want in a way that tells your story.

Composition is to photography like words are to writers. Without the proper arrangement, the work simply makes no sense. But like we all use different words around the world to communicate – all photographers speak a different language, with some overlapping truths.

form space

lines shape

color texture

lines and shape

And even with the use of elements of design in photos doesn’t mean they will feel compelling to you. Your sense of appreciation and aesthetics varies, and you will find beauty in places and images that others may not.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about common rules of composition.

Please visit my aweseome girls who are sharing this 31 Days journey with us:

31 Days of Grace :: Chatting at the Sky
31 Days to an Inspired Table :: My First Kitchen
31 Days to a Less Messy Nest :: Nesting Place
31 Days of Living Simply :: Remodeling This Life
31 Days of Autumn Bliss :: The Inspired Room
31 Days to More. . .With Less :: Beauty and Bedlam
31 Days to a Better Photo :: My 3 Boybarians
31 Days to Stress Free Entertaining :: Reluctant Entertainer


  1. I just wanted to pop in again to tell you how awesome you are. Love.

  2. Darcy – these are great! What I try to tell teens and others who want to learn about photography is this:

    #1 Every photo is about the subject – so make it about the subject
    #2 Every photo is capturing a moment in time – capture the moment
    #3 Every photo is a work of art – think outside the box and get creative
    #4 Every photo has the potential to tell a story – what story do you see – get up close to it or back up to see it all!

    With that in mind most photos come out breathtaking, memorable and will be cherished – once you get the technical stuff done right!

    PS There will still be people who don’t see the world the same (creatively, in full color or see a story before their eyes – they just want to shoot shoot shoot and that is OK too). my brain never stops working creatively I was just wired like that.

    • Great post, so true!! And I also love what Jill said above!!

    • Jill – wonderful! 🙂

      That’s the hard part, though isn’t? “Get Creative!” can elicit blank stares or fuel a fire. Creativity cannot be taught. It can only be encouraged.

      • AMEN Darcy! It is a gift I believe given to us by God. Some just see things in ways others only imagine. I do agree with all my heart we can encourage others to see beyond what is simply in front of them and to look deep into the eyes of the soul which is calling them. That is where a story is told in every shot we take.

        🙂 Thanks again for your hard work and diligence with this series!

  3. Shannon H says:

    Just wanted to comment and say I love reading your blog! Learning lots of new things. One funky question… I’m a font fanatic and what is the name of the font your using on your photos? LOVE it! 🙂

  4. i just found your website today and i am so, so excited! everything you have written is super great! thanks.

  5. In case you were wondering, I’m going back through and re-reading this series. I find that the more I play with my camera, the more questions I have. So, I’m back clicking and reminding myself what all those pesky buttons do. I will say that I now know why photographers charge what they do! It’s complicated stuff! 🙂

  6. I absolutely LOVE your post and teachings…. where can I find day 1?

    Thanks a million!


  1. […] Darcy has rocked my world with her photography lessons. I wish I had more time to implement them, but I’ve encouraged her all along to put these 31 Days into book form. She shared amazing tips and resources and I love her attitude toward photography. There’s just no telling why people fall in love with the images they do. It’s emotional, it’s memorable, it’s the experience… it’s definitely much more than the sum of f-stops and shutter speeds. -Darcy, Life With My 3 Boybarians […]

  2. […] Art in Photography […]