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Aesthetic photography

As a photographer, I remember the day I stumbled upon a genre of photography that captivated me like no other - aesthetic photography. It was a realm where creativity and artistry met...

What is aesthetic photography?

Aesthetic photography refers to how someone creates, interprets, and criticizes images through their many qualities and how relatively beautiful they are to look at.

Aesthetics are based on factors that range from tones to little details, such as symmetry and everything in between. They determine how an audience will perceive and interpret artwork, as well as how it will make them feel.


But, with beauty being subjective, different people may not feel the same way about your artwork.

Luckily, there are specific rules to differentiate the good from the bad and foundational elements that can make your work aesthetically pleasing.

What is the difference between aesthetic and style?

Before diving deeper, it is worth understanding the difference between aesthetics and style. They are often used interchangeably, and some of their ideas overlap, but they are certainly not the same.

Style refers to the unique way an individual photographer creates images. It is affected by the cameras, lenses, and camera settings that they deliberately use. Your style is usually developed based on your niche of photography.

Graphic showing what makes a photographer's style.
What makes a photographer's style

On the other hand, aesthetics refers to how other people receive your artwork based on its appearance. Factors that evoke these feelings are:

  • Colors – smart use of tone, color, and contrast can trigger certain feelings.
  • Subject placement and composition – how you pose a subject and where they are placed.
  • Editing and creativity - The choices you make during editing can determine the mood of an image and evoke certain feelings.
Graphic showing what makes something aesthetic.
What makes something aesthetic

How do you take aesthetic photography?

General aesthetic photography tips include elements of composition and editing prowess. Here are some of the basics of aesthetic photography:

1. Use leading lines

Leading lines are commonly used to guide the viewer’s eye.

Using this element is a way of telling the viewer what to look at and, therefore, what is essential in the image by drawing attention to the subject. Leading lines can take the form of structures, trees, or even the horizon line itself.

Man standing in graduation gown.
Leading lines
Man standing in graduation gown.
Showing leading line arrows

2. Embrace the rule of thirds

Imagine three vertical and horizontal lines across your frame to create photographs that direct a viewer’s gaze more naturally. That is the rule of thirds. Placing important details along the lines or intersections of the grid will make the composition more pleasing to the eye. This rule can also be applied when editing a photo by cropping it based on the gridlines.

Girl walking down road.
Girl walking down road with rule of thirds intersection lines.
After rule of thirds

3. Try using Gestalt Theory

The principles of Gestalt theory apply to aesthetic photography ideas. It suggests that people tend to group objects and create a relation between them, as opposed to viewing them separately. This behavior would include:

– Grouping objects that look similar. – Perceiving objects as a group if they are near one another. – Subconsciously completing incomplete images.

These principles can be used to your advantage to direct the audience so they perceive your photo in a particular way!

For example, if you want to shoot a photo where someone feels alone, even in a crowd, you can create visible separation between the subject and everybody else. Gestalt theories imply that a viewer will be able to perceive this separation, which will, in turn, evoke feelings of loneliness.

4. Use some triangles

In aesthetic photos, using three points of interest (in the shape of a triangle) can create sharp lines that make an image more appealing. As with leading lines, these triangles are used to direct the viewer’s gaze.

Through smart usage of buildings, subjects, and perspective, you can easily create triangles in an image. Arranging lighting or subjects as your points of interest may also create triangles that make a picture more impactful.

Man in blue suit sitting on bench.
Man in blue suit sitting on bench in a triangle pose.
Adding triangle

5. Use an odd number

People tend to perceive subjects of an odd number as a group and not as individuals. Try to place them on the horizontal or vertical gridlines and leave some white space to ensure that viewers instantly notice your subjects.

It should be taken into consideration that these are only general guidelines. Feel free to experiment or even break this rule if the results are admirable.

Three palm trees in reflection of water.
Rule of odds

Tips for taking aesthetic photos

The topic of aesthetic photography can be daunting for newer photographers, but worry not! I'm here with useful aesthetic photography tips to help you along the way.

1. Find your personal style

Use the elements above as a foundation to develop your unique style. Some photographers enjoy using Gestalt theories and will explore how much they can exploit them. Others use various perspectives to capture triangles better.


Analyze why you like certain photos and why you dislike others. Pay attention to the pictures and how you feel about them, then try to find the patterns that evoke those feelings. This helps you identify the direction your style is taking.

After taking pictures for a while, each photographer develops a distinct style that sets them apart from the rest. This will have a significant impact on the aesthetics of your photography.

2. Experiment and have fun!

Despite how tricky it may be, you should enjoy the learning process. When it comes to aesthetic photography, experimentation is key. You can keep what works and discard what does not as long as you keep learning and growing.

There are many opportunities everywhere. You can even practice in your home along with your loved ones. Photography’s potential is truly unlimited; feel free to break some rules here and there to see how they affect the aesthetics of your photos.

Why aesthetics matter

In a community that strives to produce breathtaking photos, aesthetics can affirm your identity as a photographer. A uniqueness that allows you to stand out from the crowd gives you a huge advantage! Without unique aesthetics, pictures would become less eye-catching and get lost in the noise while competing with the millions of photos out there.

In conclusion, understanding what aesthetic photography is and how it works significantly enhances your photos. Actively using the aesthetic photography tips in this article can change the way you view the world of beauty and how it is constructed. Feel free to experiment with leading lines, triangles, and other compositional hacks to make your photos beautiful.

Experiment and learn how the pros take their shots. Many websites and videos are dedicated to explaining their methods! Find your own style, learn from your earlier shoots, and be conscious about your preferred aesthetic. But do not burden yourself with trying to recreate everything to a tee. Simply trust the process. Things may seem difficult in the beginning, but push through with routine practice to perfect your work.

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