Behind the scenes – painterly photography

Painterly photography is something new to me. I had heard the term talked about but not really fully understood what it was or how it is created.

After spending some time watching youtube clips and looking through many photographs, I have discovered a better understanding. I have also discovered a fun new way to create and edit photographs. I am loving this style!

So what is painterly photography?

This artwork is the ability to set up and capture an image in a style which could easily be a painting. You have to put yourself into the mind of an artist. All elements featured in the photograph must be there for a reason. As a photographer, it is easy to take on a documentary approach – capturing the scene literally as it appears in front of you. This technique makes you look harder and take away those distracting details.

The details

You have to have a more thorough approach to setting the scene. And when getting the image, either physically remove objects, move the camera, or eliminate elements from the image at the post-production stage.

It helps to have a clear idea of the story you are trying to tell before you start shooting.

High Dynamic Range

When you look at paintings they often have soft lighting. The shadows are not too dark, and the high lights are not too bright.

To get the image right from the start soft lighting needs to be used. It is easy to create an HDR effect in editing software, but if you get the lighting right to start with it is even easier.


Painters often use a signature colour in their art. This can be applied to photography also. Also by limiting the number of colours in the image, a more painterly effect.

My first attempts at painterly art

So I thought I would give all this a go, using myself as the subject! Here is the result:

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