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What Is Conceptual Photography and Why Is It Cool?

Updated on August 2, 2022
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Ryan has been an online writer for over a decade and loves to share and educate.

Conceptual Photography Example


Many have probably wondered what's the difference between regular photography and conceptual photography. The reasons may range from pursuing a career in photography to simple curiosity.

To many, deciphering the meaning behind Conceptual Photography — what it is and what it is used for — can seem like a mind bending task. The same also applies to those who already understand it and are trying to pursuing a career in the art given it’s tedious work.

So what is conceptual photography? Simply put, conceptual portrait photography is a genre or methodology where the aim is to capture and depict an idea in a portrait. Hence, the term “conceptual portrait.”

This form of photography differs from others mostly due to the fact that the images captured are deliberately designed to convey some kind of message to the viewer as opposed to capturing real-life events. Some examples include emotional, social, political, etc.

Given the nature of the content, photos produce from this art don’t have to be completely practical. Nowadays, artist can use computer techniques such as graphics design to apply more imaginative effects to the photos in order to better convey the message within them.

Its uses in media

Conceptual photography is often used for developing advertisements such as a social advert or a product advert. A fine example of a social advert is a photo depicting a man drowning in a pool filled with beer to convey the warning of alcohol abuse. And for a product advert, we have a photo of a soap brand surrounded with vanilla orchids on display to convey that the product contains natural properties of vanilla.

Conceptual photography can also be used for artistic purposes like drama, fashion, etc. These portraits or photos usually depict people, animals, or objects in symbolic scenarios to achieve a dramatic effect. For example, portraits depicting a winged hourglass can symbolize the passage of time and perhaps even death. Another example is a gigantic person sulking in a miniaturized room to symbolize the inability for someone to fit in with society.

Whichever is chosen, the art of conceptual photography can have a huge impact on the campaign they are used for.

Conceptual photography in the modern world

Regardless of its use, conceptual photography provides a great opportunity for photographers to create wonderfully spellbinding art and express themselves. For those who want to pursue the field of conceptual photography, the difficulty of producing the art can range from surprisingly simple to annoyingly hard.

But for both sides of the spectrum, the process is much easier in the modern world. Thanks to the internet, there are countless websites on the subject and most of them offer the necessary resources for free. However, it is advised to study the art at a university to gain professional knowledge first hand.

Conceptual photography has gotten more sophisticated thanks to emerging technologies. As mentioned before, artists have taken advantage of current technologies to enhance the photos for better conveyance of their messages. Graphics software like Photoshop allow photographers to add, retract or edit the content int their photos. They can also add special effects which can radically alter the reality originally captured in said photos. But as convenient as this software is, it requires training, discipline and above all, an artistic perspective for success.

A career in conceptual photography

Those who pursue conceptual photography as a career path have many opportunities lying ahead of them depending on their approach to the industry. There are many jobs that employ these skills to be used especially in big industries like Hollywood. Job positions can include creative photographer, brand designer, videographer, creative director and so much more.

Take note that conceptual photography is not for everyone and may or may not be appreciated by those who view it. But it can be rewarding to those who indulge in the craft. For example, the average salary for photographers currently starts at around $35,000 per annum.

For more information on salaries for conceptual photography and college and universities that provide the appropriate education, please visit the link below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Ryan Fanus


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