Goth Photography: Tips & Techniques for Gothic Photography
written by: Chrissy Dean•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/12/2010
An introduction to goth photography covering what the style is, how to create the correct effects, and how to get started photographing in this genre. No special equipment is necessary for the beginner, but a basic understanding of the elements is. Learn more about goth photography here.
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What is Goth Photography?
Goth photography has become a very elusive term over the years. Being drenched in modern and pop cultures, and seeming to constantly redefine itself, goth photography may be very hard to explain. Yet gothic images are widely and almost instantly recognizable. When you see a very moody photo of a dark churchyard, you can instantly label it “goth".
This is because the essence of goth photography IS the mood. Specifics in subject matter and technique can vary widely, but the most important thing to maintain is the right atmosphere.
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Gothic Photography - Where to Start
The very first thing to decide when shooting gothic images is what message you want to send or emotions you’d like to evoke. From this base, you can structure your lighting, find the right setting, and prepare your model (if using one) all to work towards the same end.
Simple ways to begin learning goth photography techniques is take a stroll around your town in the evening. Take shots of interesting buildings, cemetery gates, strange statues, and interesting headstones. When you have a few dozen shots, review them and ask yourself a few questions:
1. How do these images make me feel?
2. Do these structures seem to have personalities or emotions of their own? If so, what are they?
3. What can I do with these images to make their messages even stronger?
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Color is An Option with Goth Photography!
Most times, goth photography is really about the ability to see, and show, the beauty in the dark, tragic, or even morbid. These aspects of life bring up emotions and reactions in everyone, and a successful goth photographer has a firm grasp and on this human reaction to their art.
To create these scenes, grays, blacks, and whites are used most often in subdued contrast. However, some of the most successful goth images display splashes or soft washes of colors such as maroon, navy, and plum.
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Using Models in Goth Photography
Adding models is the next step in learning goth photography. When doing this, you need to decide how much focus you will want on your model. Do want them to blend into the background to add to the overall effect, or do you want the whole image to be about them, making them stand out? With answers to these questions, you can decide on colors, clothing style, and hair and makeup for your model.
When introducing models into your photography, take many, many shots. Try as many different angles, light sources, expressions, and poses as you can think of. It is not uncommon for a photographer to take a few hundred photos of their subject just to capture about a dozen “perfect" shots. Playing with different filters like sepia tone can also change your effect and the entire image.
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Nature in Goth Photography
Other subjects can be used to break from stereotypical goth photography, as well. Experimenting with elements found in nature can add depth and interest to otherwise formulaic shots. Some examples include gnarled or dead trees, macro shots of spiderwebs and spiders, and even mangy or emaciated animals. Some of the best animals to consider are the ones which create fear naturally, such as wolves or birds of prey.
To see fine examples of all these elements together, you can visit the artist Viona’s website. Or for a wider selection from many gothic photographers, check out the goth photos at this website. Taking notes of the styles and imagery which appeals to you can help you identify and develop your own style and talent.
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Being a Gothic Photographer
Being a gothic photographer does not necessarily make one morbid or depressed, but many social stigmas and misunderstandings will cause you to be labeled this way. Many shy away from this type of photography, both as artists and audience because of imagery and beliefs they already have of the style. The goth subculture tends to go to great lengths to portray dark, sad, and disturbed individuals.
Seeing beauty in isolation, and identifying yourself as a gothic photographer can have negative effects on others' opinion of you, and you must work hard to overcome these predispositions. If it is something you are passionate about though, keep working and honing your skills to show your audience what you see in the darker side of life as beautiful, rather than scary.