Textures in Photography

Before you even take in the image, the texture communicates, evokes emotions, and often challenges expectations. This effect is called embodied cognition. Each and everyone of us experiences embodied cognition. We experience, even without realizing it, all day long. Our brains translate the feeling of texture into distinct emotions and impressions. The relevance of each material to the image and hanging location contains a message, making the print medium material choice very important. When purchasing Fine Art Photography we need to be cognoscente of the use of textures in photography.

It could be said that the print medium materials are the body language of the photograph’s communication.

Consider…

Embodied Cognition
(Source: “A Maker’s Field Guide,” Mohawk Papers)

We don’t often think of the print finish as texture, but a real sense the finish gives a sense of texture. It could be glossy texture, a matte texture, or perhaps even a velvety or metallic one. Finishes, as do all textures, are deft communicators. They stimulate are thoughts and emotions. The medium and the finish, as well as the mounting are the body language of Fine Art Photography.

Textures should be matched to content. What textures are in the photo? What textures do the emotions evoked by the photo bring to mind? What textures does the image’s embodied story convey to you in your mind?

 
Some thoughts on texture selection for Fine Art Photographs …

  • Consider how the image speaks to you before doing anything else. What does it say? What textures convey that feeling? Consider the entire package, finish, print medium, framing (if wanted), and location. Each is a vital part of the print’s embedded “story.”
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  • Select texture that enhances the images “texture” and vibrancy. For example does the image’s texture and vibrancy lend itself to canvas or perhaps watercolor paper? How about metal or wood? Would a glossy print or matte finish feel better?
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  • Avoid similarities when using more than one texture. Use textures that contrast. For example, consider mounting a print on watercolor paper on canvas, especially a darker canvas. The texture and shape of the frame, if used, must also be considered. Does it add or enhance the image.
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  • Strike a balance, especially when striving for a refined and thoughtful look. Consider pairing loud, eye-catching with a subtler look.
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  • Turn up the volume. If no-holds-barred, over-the-top character is what the image conveys, then consider forging the subtleties and go for bold textures.
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  • Ask yourself, how does my choice of textures, framing and location bring everything together?

Okay the textures have been chosen, there still remains color. Think about the way colors mix. How do colors of the image mix with those of its surroundings (and this includes frames and mat board if used)?

Some thoughts:

  • Use color shifts to emphasize conceptual changes.
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  • Use lighter colors to spark interest without taking over the photo
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  • Combine black and white with color. When, for example, color is the backdrop for a black and white photo the results are often unexpected and dramatic.

Most importantly, do more with less. Don’t overdo it.

 
 
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