Classic art is a constant source of inspiration for me. I spend a bit of time each week exploring a new artist. My time spent observing is never wasted. I find myself being inspired even when I am not a huge fan of the artist. The concepts of light, emotion, connection, and story all are applicable to photography. I believe that classic paintings create a bridge between the world as we know it and the world that we create through out lens. As we study art, our minds shift from three dimensions to two. This study helps us in everything from framing to composition. Color, texture, and light are also inspirations.
Using art as inspiration for photography
It is important to remember that paintings do not have to be recreated. We study art to see deeper than just the surface. For instance, Rembrandt’s subjects were generally clothed in attire of his era. The light, however, is classic. We can place our modern day subjects in the similar light and it creates the same dramatic effect.
Here is a classic Rembrandt portrait:
You can see that the woman is seated, with her arm forward and she is wrapped in and ivory cloak. The tones are brown and gold and the light is shadowed. Here I have taken these colors and created an image that speaks to me, but embraces some characteristics from the painting:
Sometimes, I make images that mimic expression and light. Here is a neoclassic painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau:
I interpreted it this way:
All inspiration doesn’t need to be dark and moody though. I love Monet! His beautiful colors and light are two things I adore. I often use a color palate from classic art to inspire my editing. I used this painting by Monet (The River Epte, 1885) for inspiration:
I came up with this image of my daughter in a field across from my home. The colors were drab and brown, but I pulled all the tones I could out of the sunset-washed prairie and added a bit of photoshop to complete it. I loved how the blues and purples played against the warm and sunny tones of the evening sky. I kept the image soft and flowing instead of sharply toned like the Monet. Remember, it is not necessary to copy. Just find one aspect that draws you and play with that.
Caroline Jensen – Guest Post
Caroline Jensen is a photographic artist living on the wide, open prairie with her husband and four children. She enjoys a great read aloud book with her kids and a classic movie at home with plenty of kettle corn. You can find her work at www.LoveStandsStill.com and on Facebook.
You can find her mentoring at Clickin Moms and teaching her class called The Art of Observation, that includes the study of classic art.