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15 Jul 2016

How to Take Your Impressionist Photography to the Next Level

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Do you produce acceptable impressionist images, but don’t consider them great? Doy ou have the feeling of repetition that makes you tired of every subject? Do you think that everything you produce is boring and that keeps you from creating new images?

Everyone has experienced this kind of feeling. Whether you are a beginner or you’ve been photographing for many years, it’s not always a smooth ride. You’ve probably already discovered that impressionist photography is a lot more difficult than it appears.

To create impressionist images well, in my opinion, you need to photograph from your heart. We all have a different view of the world and this should be reflected in your images. You need to develop personal insights into the subject matter, combined with aspects that reveal something about yourself.

[bctt tweet=”To create impressionist images well you need to photograph from your heart.” username=”evapolak”]

Every scene in front of you will present different properties and challenges. Always allow yourself time before you shoot to get the visual feel of the place or subject. To take your impressionist images to the next level, you need to learn to see with strong personal vision. Before you press shutter release button, ask yourself these six simple questions:

couple on the beach Eva Polak

1. What am I photographing?
What’s my subject matter? What thought or feeling am I trying to express? This could be a fiscal subject like a tree or a person, but perhaps a colour, texture, mood or emotion. Nail this down and you’ll have a very easy task deciding on your next steps.

2. What is the light doing?
The importance of light in impressionist photography cannot be over-emphasised. Light is the main ingredient which transforms everything. Light creates shadows and depth. Observe how light is interacting with your subject. Look at its direction, strength and quality. What kind of mood is it suggesting?

3. What is it about this subject matter that prompted me to take my camera out of the bag?
The first step is observation. Before attempting to interpret the distinctive quality and mood in a subject, it is always a good idea to spend some time just looking and assessing which elements are the most meaningful and the most important to capture the effect you want.This could be an interesting shape or colour, or the way light is interacting with your subject and creating interesting effects. Observe and study your subject before you take any photographs. Think how you can highlight them. Think how you can use it to emphasise your story.

Eva Polak_1

4. How am I going to frame the subject?
The success and impact of an image depend on it making a strong visual statement. Which principle of design can you use to create an effective composition? Perhaps you can use an eye movement to guide the viewer to the focal point. Maybe using colour contrast will create great visual impact. Consider balance, rhythm, and symmetry.
5. What’s the background of the subject?
The background is extremely important as it can put subject matter in context and make it stand out in a way that highlights its features. On the other hand, the background can overwhelm the subject and compete with it. Always scan the background of your scene before taking an image. Look for colours that don’t fit with the rest of the image – bright patches that might distract the eye, etc. If you have distracting elements in the background you can move your subject, or move yourself and shoot from a new angle.


6. What kind of technique should I use?
Think of the various lens and camera settings which will give you the best results and help you to tell a compelling story. To express yourself visually, you have to master your tools to be able to produce the images you want.

[bctt tweet=”Learn how to be intentional with every decision & about every tool that you have when photographing.” username=”evapolak”]

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter how you answer these questions, as your choices will reflect what appeals to you personally. The directions and possibilities are limitless. What matters for you is learning how to be intentional with every decision and about every tool that you have at your disposal. Each photo shoot will add to your knowledge and in turn give you more resources to call upon when you are thinking about the best way to interpret your subject.

Experiment! Challenge yourself! See what works for you. To move your impressionist photography to the next level, you can’t play safe and work within your comfort zone.

If you wish to have your impressionist photography skills taken to the next level check  out my course Impressionist Photography Advanced. This six-weeks long workshop will give you the skills and inspiration to take your work to new heights.