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My Journey to Fine Art Photography


First of all, I am ecstatic about writing this article, and would personally like to thank Summerana and all its staff, editors, and of course, the members who continue to uplift my spirits in this industry. I sat here forever, tapping my fingers on the table deciding what to write first…. having writer’s block and ultimately confused about where to start this article. I wanted to explain first and foremost my love for photography, my inspirations, and why I chose fine art. I wanted to accumulate together a great piece to read. And well…. I am not a writer. I am a photographer and an Artist.

So…let’s get started.

I first fell in love with Fine Art Photography about 5 years ago. I guess you can say my muse and why I started doing this type of photography was because of my daughter Grace. She has always pranced around pretending to be America’s Next Top Model, and of course, with the help of my photography, she has slowly started a career in modeling and has one heck of a portfolio. Not to sound biased but it’s true.

I picked up my first camera in 2014. It was a cheap old thing. I started monkeying with it, trying to figure out all the buttons. It was like learning how to drive. Very Intimidating! I tried asking other locals who knew a thing or two about photography and quickly got shunned away. My next step was to start doing model calls so I can practice. I started joining photography groups and learning how to achieve the type of imagery I wanted. The first work of photography I fell in love with was by Katie Andelman Photography. I followed her work for some time and only hoped I would become as great as her.

Then I became familiar with Tara Lesher Photography & I joined her membership, on the path to discover the type of art I wanted to create. I wanted to offer something no one in my area had offered yet so I can stand out. I started learning about light, digital painting, and composition. One day I begged my husband to allow me to drive 5 hours alone to attend one of her workshops. It was that workshop that finally opened my eyes. Yes I was good at photography, but I wanted more, I wanted to be noticed. And it was a certain mentor at that workshop who proclaimed I am on my way to success and exclaimed I had the talent and skills.

I started joining more workshops, attending more Shootouts and becoming a member to education sites including Summerana. It was not too long after becoming a Summerana Member, that I started to follow the main teacher, Shannon Squires, and quickly fell in love with her work. Not just her composite work, but her fine artwork as well.
Soon I discovered who I am and what my exact style is. I can’t just love these artists for their work. I can only be inspired by them and start loving my own work. So I started creating art!

The image being shared with this article took place last year, at a train museum in Pennsylvania. I got permission from the staff to do my model call there, and when they gave me permission to actually go inside the train, I was extremely excited because I wanted to create a story. See, Fine Art photography always tells a story. It shows real emotions, draws you into the image and makes you feel a part of it.

Let me walk you through my editing process of this image.
First and foremost, this image was shot with my Nikon D 5300 using my Sigma 70-200mm lens. My specifications for this image are as follows, Shutter Speed 1/750, f/2.8, ISO 1250 shot at 70 mm. I asked my model to just peek out the window and to pretend she is longing to go home. This way I created emotion within my subject. For post processing I opened the image in Photoshop, starting off with Adobe Camera Raw Adjustments. Here are my Adjustments

Exposure +30
Temp +9
Highlights +13
Contrast +4
Shadows -19

Then I liquified my subject’s hair and also cloned out the seat that was in front of her to get rid of any distractions. I had to clone part of the window back into the scene, by using the rectangular marquee tool and creating a copy of the window. Then I stretched it to create a larger window. I did Selective Color to adjust the tones of the image such as skin tone and the overall scene I wanted to create. My goal was to create a moody feel. I created light, using a new fill layer in the form of a radial gradient, to add light to the lamp, giving the image a more picturesque feel.

To create any type of painting or Fine Art Portrait, an artist needs to understand the fundamentals of contouring, using a method called Dodge and Burn. I created shadows and highlights on my image using this method, adding more dimension to the photo. I also looked up several tutorials on how to create a teardrop. My image tells a story about a young girl on the verge of traveling, to unknown destinations, emotionally feeling that home is always where the heart is, no matter how far the distance.

Adding the teardrop, making it that special component to my art piece entitled so much emotion on myself. Lastly, I wanted to make it look like a painting. An art piece worth remembering! Not just for my followers, or even fellow artists, but for myself. I used the oil paint filter to add that extra spark to the image. This is by far one of my most treasured art pieces, as it represents my personal emotions on so many levels. I hope it creates a spark in your journey to create something out of the box and begin to tell stories of your own.

Summerana invited me to write this article on this specific Image. I have been published now Multiple times by Summerana as well as other Photography Magazines. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity in being able to invite you all into my editing process. Thank you so much for allowing me to captivate your creative minds.

-Dani Jo
Photographer of the Western NY Region

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