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5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs

No “graphic photographs” do not have anything  to do with adult themed images. Graphical photography is an image style that utilizes shape, geometry and color to resemble something that might be drawn or designed. Photographs that are considered graphic in nature have distinct curves & lines,  color contrast and highlight geometry with in a particular scene. It may sound more complex than it really is, as I’m sure you’ve seen photos everywhere that fit this description.

Finding and taking photographs with a strong graphic element takes an observant eye. Man-made objects such as machinery, architecture, roads, etc. are inherently great graphic photography subjects because they’re designed with geometry in mind by engineers, architects and civic planners. Nature subjects also have a strong geometric shape rooted in the molecular geometry of organic compounds like cellulose and inorganic compounds with crystalline structures like quartz. Whether your subject is made by man or nature if you add light,  shadow and color plus follow the 5 tips below you have all the ingredients needed for a great graphic photos.

Here are 5 tips to capture great graphic photographs:

1. Look for curves and lines that provide contrast to shape and color.
5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs
Dusk at White Sands National Monument – featured in the new iPad app ePhotobook White Sands HD
Tech Info: Canon 1Ds Mark III, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 115mm, 15 seconds, f/22, Gitzo tripod

2. Look for color contrasts to distinguish shapes and leading lines.
5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs
The Bell Curve – San Francisco, California
Tech Info: Canon 1Ds Mark III, 70-200mm f/2.8 + 2x  at 235mm, f/25, Gitzo tripod

3. Look for light contrast to highlight actual and phantom shapes. Sometimes objects outside of the scene make their presence known by their shadow or inverse shadow.
5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs
Architectural Abstract
Tech Info: Canon 1D Mark II, 20-35mm f/2.8, hand held

4. Experiment with your framing
By turning your camera or perspective sideways and even upside down to extract the shapes & colors from an otherwise recognizable scene to place additional emphasis on the graphical components of the image.
5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs
Pattern Abstract I – Death Valley National Park
Tech Info: Canon 1Ds Mark III, 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4x at 420mm, f/32, Gitzo tripod

5. Experiment with Black and White photographs to draw out shape and texture.
5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs
Stormy Badlands – Badlands National Park
Tech Info: Canon 1Ds Mark III, 16-35mm f/2.8 at 16mm, f/22, Gitzo tripod

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Jim Goldstein
Jim Goldstein

is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

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