Gothic Photography Celebrates Beauty in Darkness
If you see the beauty in darkness, sadness, or even decay, you'll love looking at examples of Gothic photography. This haunting photographic style resonates with many people and works perfectly for those who love to show their darker side in their photos.
In Gothic portraiture, it can be beautiful to show a sense of isolation and loneliness through the use of a veil. Keep tones deep and dark. A natural background, such as trees, adds to the mood.
Capture Haunting Beauty With Double Exposures
Ghosts are a literal form of haunting, but they can also be a powerful symbol in a Gothic photo. The past can haunt people, and the losses and traumas of earlier events can take on the form of ghosts in a carefully composed double exposure photograph.
To create this type of double exposure, take two images and layer them. You can do this in camera or in post processing. Make sure you underexpose both shots just a little to keep the combined image from being overexposed. Add textures in post processing to give this a gritty feel.
Play With Color for Dark Art Portraits
Color choices, especially in post processing, can have a dramatic effect on the overall mood of your image. If you want to create a sense of desolation or depression, decrease the saturation. The duller colors will feel sad but still look beautiful.
In the case of a portrait, you need to make sure you don't desaturate the skin tones too much. In most cases, these will be reds, oranges, and yellows. Play with the saturation of individual colors to control where you tone things down. This look takes experimentation, but it can be a powerful tool to get a Gothic portrait with emotional impact.
Get a Moody Look With Overcast Skies
Gray days can feel dreary, but they are a Gothic photographer's dream come true. The overcast light is soft and beautiful for portraits and landscapes alike, and it keeps colors a little less bright. The moody look is easy to achieve in this kind of light.
For a really compelling shot, choose a location with interesting texture, such as stone walls, branches, or long grass. Have models wear dark-colored period clothing and move slowly through the setting as you capture beautiful photos.
Bring in a Fog Machine and Lights
For a dramatic Gothic scene, you can create the mood with a fog machine and your own lighting. Fog machines are inexpensive to buy, and they can do amazing things for your photos.
To create an image like this one, you need to set up your lighting carefully. A dark background keeps things somber, and a blue-gelled hair light offers separation between the model's dark hair and the background. A softbox or umbrella camera right and above gives a lovely light for the model's face, and a reflector camera left helps to soften the shadows.
Try Flour Paste to Embrace Decay
Capture the sense of time passing by using a flour paste mask on your model. Mix flour and water until it forms a paste and apply it to the model's face. Allow it to dry and crack.
Use a dark background for your photos or take them in a natural setting. Add flowers or other softer textures to contrast with the cracked appearance of the model.
Use a Mirror to Show Emptiness
That feeling of loss or emptiness that can consume people makes an emotional subject for Gothic photography. You can use a mirror to capture this feeling in your photos, especially for portraits.
Have the model hold the mirror facing the camera and ensure it reflects a scene similar to the one that surrounds her. Woods or fields are a great choice here, since they tend to feel
Capture a Beautiful Gothic Landscape Photo
Gothic photography isn't just about portraits. You can also show the beauty in darkness with stunning landscape shots.
The natural choice for a gorgeous Gothic landscape is a cemetery, but the key here is to keep it creative and have a clear focal point. Add in framing elements like tree branches to draw the eye into the scene. Process in black and white to make the scene starker and more dramatic. Bonus points if you can shoot in fog.
Photograph the Dark Beauty of Nature
Darkness is present in nature, and it offers another opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind Gothic photograph you'll be proud to display or share online. Capture ravens, crows, and other blackbirds with a few nature photography tips.
- Choose a long lens so you don't have to startle the bird by being close.
- Shoot as quickly as your camera allows, often several frames per second.
- Wait for soft, overcast light to avoid harsh shadows that could detract from the beauty of the bird's dark feathers.
Use Light Painting in Still Life Photos
You can add a lot of Gothic drama to still life images with light painting. This technique involves using a small light, such as a flashlight or LED, to add extra light to a specific area of a scene.
In this image, a red flashlight illuminates the interior of the piano and gives it a moody darkness that's irresistible. The key is making sure the actual light source is hidden inside the object or held outside the frame. That way, the light it casts becomes the subject of the image - not the flashlight itself. Purposefully underexpose the shot and use a long shutter speed.
Photograph Decaying Beauty
Nothing shows off the beauty of decay like a dried rose, and this makes a classic and beautiful still life subject for a Gothic photo. The key to making this shot really successful is having the right lighting. Place the rose or bouquet of roses near a window and shoot from the side. Expose your shot for the highlights on the rose, allowing the rest of the image to softly fade into deep shadows. This helps create the nostalgic, dark mood you want.
Confront Mortality With a Gothic Portrait
Using a prop skull, you can create a photograph that confronts mortality in a beautiful way. Have your model wear Gothic makeup that is inspired by the Day of the Dead or any other dark holiday. Position the skull and the model so they are face to face. Light the scene from behind the camera and use a dark background to provide plenty of contrast.
Always Include Emotion in Gothic Photographs
At its heart, Gothic photography is about emotion. This can take the form of a close shot of a crying model in Gothic eye makeup, captured in gritty black and white, or it can be lonely cemetery or dark woodland scene. Whether you create Gothic landscape photography or dark, moody portraits, it all comes down to conveying a feeling to the viewer.