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.
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.
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. However, 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.
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 as the average salary for photographers currently sits around $50,000 per annum.