Photography Art and Craft

Guest Author

Ashveen @ashmec

Ashveen Maheshwari is a Product Designer from IISc Bangalore. He is a great photography enthusiast. Thanks to Ashveen for contributing this article. He is available in Twitter as @ashmec

Many people I know are worried that they don’t have a good camera. To be precise, any camera is not a limitation. Photographers such as Terry Richardson (a well known fashion photographer) have made their career starting with cameras no better than a Kodak KB10. Great photography is not limited by the instruments at your disposal. Instruments do give you more options, but that is no limit for an artist’s imagination.

Leaf in water, reflection of sky by Ashveen

Photography: An art or craft?

When photography was started in late 1800s, it was not considered as an art form. By and large it was thought as a craft. Photographs were not even considered to get a place in art museums. Eventually, after a long series of efforts by artists, it got its place and was regarded as an art form.

Some pointers for better photography

Errors are of two kinds- either deliberate action or careless mistake. Calling a careless mistake an art is what I don’t find very convincing. Even that can become an artistic expression. On the other hand, deliberate actions are the ones that add value to the overall picture and its emotion. Many photographers and artists use them extensively throughout their work so much so that the work is identified by the kind of error it has in it.
Here are some pointers that I observed over time doing photography and watching others do it. I hope these will help.

Unwanted objects

While we shoot in real life, there are always unwanted objects in a frame that can spoil the picture. Here is my tip: Either take the picture in a way that all the clutter becomes a part of the scene or you reconfigure the angle to avoid them.  Yes, Photoshop is always there.

Two friends on a wall by Ashveen

There are many objects that do not directly relate to the subjects.

Two friends on a wall by Ashveen

This looks better and has more impact.

Improper perspectives

When we take pictures at an angle, the perspective gets affected. Try to avoid perspective distortion using tilt shift lens. If the subject is small and you want them to look as they are (no cartooning), then taking pictures at right angles is a good idea.

Flying Dragon by Ashveen

Here, as the perspective is wrong, the figure looks clearly distorted while it was not intended to be.

Unwanted Shadows

This is common in pictures that are taken in bright sunlight.
Music, street art by Ashveen

To avoid shadows like this, you can also use flash.

Subject not emphasized properly

Care should be taken so that the original subject gets enough attention.

Classroom, student in front of projected screen: by Ashveen

Here, the person goes to the background and the big projection screen becomes the subject.


  • Natural lighting will give you great pictures if the light source remains on your back. You may do exactly reverse of this to get silhouette effect which is equally cool. Sometimes, angular lighting may also add value.
  • While shooting with flash and studio light, it’s all in your control and you can get whatever effect you want.
  • Best time for taking pictures in natural light is between sunrise and 10.00 AM or between 5.00PM and sunset. Weather is also to be taken into account.


  • True abstract pictures are pictures that can’t be directly related to any worldly object. They usually convey a mood or an overall meaning. This meaning may differ from person to person.
  • Just look around you and you will be amazed to see how much possibilities are there for abstracts. You may introduce deliberate errors for getting some abstract pictures.
    American Dream by Ashveen
    This image was taken with a long exposure. The three colors from three t-shirts that I was waving along with my camera. The image conveys ‘American Dream.’

Other Points

  • All simple principles that are related to graphic design like Gestault theories are relevant to photography as well. You can make use of them while taking pictures.
  • Your work may have an objective.  So you may give it a little thought, sometimes this happens during the shooting process itself. The idea keeps evolving as you move forward with the photo shoot.
  • Don’t be shy as you take pictures. You may need to touch your models and ask them to do crazy things, you yourself might need to be in odd positions while you take pictures. Just do it.
    Making faces, long haired male: by Ashveen
    This model’s hair is pinned on to the notice board and he is made to do all sorts of crazy poses. Model: Urvesh
  • Photographers pursue beauty. Beauty is not Angelina Jolie; it is in everyone and everything you see. You just need to have the right eye for it. None of your models or objects can be ugly or filthy, at least they should not look like that to you while you stay behind the camera.I found this doll in the junk yard.
    old doll, flowers: by Ashveen
    To me the picture says “Recycle before They Haunt You.”
  • It’s a good idea to make the models feel at ease. Start a conversation, crack jokes and refrain from criticizing them if something goes wrong.
  • The number of best pictures in any shoot will be usually low. You will take lots of pictures and very few from them will satisfy you. So don’t worry, just shoot. Digital memory is very cheap compared with raw film rolls.
  • Shoot everything that is around you. You can get amazing pictures from objects that look just ordinary. Ordinary objects may produce extraordinary impact.
    Fire in water by Ashveen
    This is a mineral water bottle filled with water. There is a yellow Gold Flake cigarette pack behind it. The camera flash made an effect of fire in the bottle.
  • Yes, your cameras are costly equipments. But if you are too cautious about the camera’s safety, you may miss a lot of great pictures.
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment… You will get nice pictures.

Here are some of my favorite photographers.

Hope you liked this blog post. And, congrats to AnasKA | antzFx for his long lasting blog.