Alain Briot Fine Art Photography Top 16

 The purpose of the artist is to express reality as felt


What are the most important aspects of Fine Art Photography?  The answer to this question certainly varies from photographer to photographer because each of us places more importance on some aspects than on others.  What follows is what I personally consider to be the most important aspects of Fine Art photography.  

This list is excerpted from a longer list that I use for teaching during my workshops and seminars.  The decision to create a shorter list, with only 16 items instead of 37, stemmed from the desire to focus on the essential aspects of Fine Art Photography regardless of which scenes we photograph, what subject we are study or whatnext stepwe are working towards. The resulting list is free from a particular teaching emphasis and represents what I look for in a Fine Art Photograph.


Four Tufas at Dawn, Mono Lake, California 

 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 – Create images that represent what you felt, not just what you saw

– Study the differences between objective and subjective representations
– Technique is objective and emotions are subjective
– The camera is objective and the artist is subjective
– Study the differences between documentation and personal expression
       – Documentation is showing only what is in front of the lens
       – Personal expression is showing your emotional response to the subject

5 – 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


6 – Master both art and technique

– Fine art is about both art and technique
– Do not study just one or the other
– Study the work of artists working in a variety of medium
– Practice until you master both

7 – 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


8 – Optimize your photographs using layers in Photoshop

– Don’t do all the optimization work in the raw converter.

9 – 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 


10 – 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.


11 – Focus your work and efforts on projects

– Don’t photograph everything that attracts your eye
– Be selective and deliberate in your choice of subject matter


12 – 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.


13 – 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

14 – Create a Personal Style

– This is what will make you stand out from everyone else

15 – 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

16 – 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


Dowloadable version available:

A PDF / Wallpaper version of this Top 16 list is available as a free download at this link:

This free version features 7 monitor resolutions plus iPad resolution (768×1024).
It is available in both French and English versions. 

About Alain Briot

Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, raw conversion, optimization, printing, marketing photographs and more. Alain is also the author ofMastering Landscape Photography,  Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography.  All books are available from Amazon and other bookstores They are available as eBooks exclusively from Alain’s  

You can find more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter onhis websiteat  You will receive over 40 essays in PDF format, including chapters from Alain’s books, when you subscribe.

Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays. You can reach Alain directly byemailing

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
December 2011