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Ornamental Photography

Updated on February 7, 2014
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Ornamental photography or as it is better known decorative photography but most often referred to as decorative art is nothing more that photographing subjects, any subjects, that are meant as pieces to be simply looked at or admired much like a decorative base or painting is when hanged on a wall or placed a top a table. Basically any subject is fair game for this style of photography but the best subjects are typically those that are considered abstract art.

"The decorative arts are often categorized in opposition to the "fine arts", namely, painting, drawing, photography, and large-scale sculpture, which generally have no function other than to be seen."..."In general the term "decorative art" is not much used of contemporary work, which tends to be called design whereas in art history the terms minor arts or lesser arts have been used which explains the contempt often expressed by those focused on 'fine art". Wikipedia

Monochrome is suitable for most styles of photography and is no exception with the style, but the best samples are usually those that have rich strong colors.

Regardless of where you locate a suitable scene or subject which you mean to use as a decorative photograph, aim for those that are not so elaborate to the point of creating confusion when someone looks at it. The simpler the composition the better.

Architecture, greens, landscapes, prairies, trees, flowers, still life and abstracts make the better subject compositions and you should have a keen eye when encountering any such scene. Most of the time there are parts of a scene that lend themselves quite well for the theme that also have other less attractive elements. Here you should use a lens that allows you to crop the image before snapping the shutter.

However, if the final image does not appeal to you or has elements that are not to your liking, you can always crop them digitally with a multitude of digital editing software programs such as Photoshop.

Look for scenes or subjects that are striking in their color appeal and general presentation, frame them to your liking, even use different angles and perspectives and then take the shot. Always keep in mind the intended use and how they will look better. Take notice to take some shots in a horizontal and in a vertical format, therefore you can use them either way.

A tip is to use both horizontal and vertical formats with one format being shown in a smaller scale and presented together side by side like in a frame.

Beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, flower gardens or nature preserves, well manicured gardens all have the opportunity of presenting themselves for the technique and you should visit them whenever pursuing the style.

A good source of inspiration for this theme is to browse through several of the most popular desktop websites and gather ideas from there as a starting reference point.

As far as using these images for submission to photographic stock houses or other photographic publications and not to forget the many specialized publications that may use your themes, keep in mind that this is one of the most competitive areas in the medium with many renown professional photographers who make their living from it. Therefore your images must be nothing less than exceptional or they may not stand a change of being picked up by stock companies or editors.

Always go with the smaller and local publications when attempting a commercial route for the first time. Your images stand a better change of being used, even if you do not collect from it, at least you begin to make a name for yourself. Local street fairs and art fairs are excellent mediums in which to sell your wares and gather recognition. Do not overlook them if at all possible.


Like with any photographic undertaking, take your time in composing the shot. Look for all possible angles, examine the entire scene and "fake shoot" a photo; frame it as if you would snap the shot but don't. Use it to get a better idea of how the composition would look in the end.

Be very critical of your technique as the images need to be nothing short of perfect. Use strong colors with one or two main ones in simple compositions when possible. Look for images that you yourself would use in your home or business and not because you are the photographer, but because they are good images.

Want more tips, ideas and advice for starting a new photo project?

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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Thank you and a Happy Holiday Season to you and yours

    • profile image 5 years ago

      Once again you put it in a Nutshell GL - the line on not making things too confusing for the viewer jumped out at me - I definitely try to do this when I take shots. Have a Merry Christmas GL and thanks for all the great tips!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Goodo hub, you gave some good information. I too enjoy photography. Thanks for sharing! Voted up and following.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Peggy W: Thank you for your nice comments

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Good explanation of ornamental photography and the images you provided as examples accompany this hub perfectly. I like to take photos and now that we can crop digitally and use other enhancing features, it makes it fun. Thanks!