What makes a fine-art photograph?

Discussion in 'Photographic Aesthetics and Composition' started by PaulDK, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. PaulDK

    PaulDK Member

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    Hello everyone.

    I have been doing some photography for a couple of years now, and I have been thinking of getting into fine-art photography. I don't know that much about it, other than it takes hard work (of course) and a fairly amount of research.

    Can some of you tell me your view on what makes a photograph fine-art? Is it by making only one perfect and unique picture of a scene, and making it the only photograph there is?

    If some of you are working with fine-art photography, what is your advice for those who want to get started in what I think is an artistically rewarding area of photography?

    - Paul.
     
  2. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    What exactly fine art photography is may be subject to discussion (And it has been discussed a lot). As far as I know it has to do with proper techniques (focusing, developing and printing skills). Usually, fine art images are also carefully composed and thought out rather than captured in a journalistic style. They are a product of your imagination rather than merely capturing what is just there. Some may also say that unless it´s not printed on fibre paper, it is no fine print. It has nothing to do with the subject whatsoever I think. You can make fine prints even from the most superfluous things.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2012
  3. Yashinoff

    Yashinoff Member

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  4. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I consider myself non fine art photographer :smile: : I don't care for temperature of developer too much, I don't care if my fiber based silver gelatin print is not flat 100%, I don't care if I have couple of small dusts of dents on the print, I don't use lightmeter with my M3, often my lens is not perfect clean. I just don't care for those imperfections and enjoy in image as it is. This attitude is not possible if you want to be fine art photographer.

    edit: When there is nothing to be added and nothing to be removed from final print - then I consider this print to be fine art.
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Fine-art photography is such a broad category as to be almost un-definable. If what sells in high-end galleries is fine art photography, then the standards of execution are meaningless. It doesn't require perfect lenses (or even any lenses at all). It doesn't require perfect production techniques (experimental work is highly regarded these days). It doesn't even require a recognizable subject! Given what constitutes 'fine art photography' these days, your kids' accidental exposures of their feet qualify (if you print them big enough!). Pinhole images, photograms, chemicograms (images formed purely through the action of chemistry on photo paper), black-and-white, color, dignified portraits, snapshots of prostitutes in flagrante , landscapes of the Sierra laden with snow, muddy excavation pits in dystopian suburban developments, it's all fair game.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi paul

    it really isn't to hard.
    just photograph what you like
    fine a market for it
    and sell your images.

    they will become " fine art photographs"

    if you do a search in the search bar and put "fine art photography" in quotes ( as i did )
    you will learn what others have to say about it. for the most part anything is is "fine art"
    including conceptual images that many people "don't get"

    good luck !
    john

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum50/31823-what-fine-art.html
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum50/36595-schism-fine-art-photography.html
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum48/111862-what-makes-fine-art-photography-fine-art.html
     
  7. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Anything shot in B&W.
     
  8. PaulDK

    PaulDK Member

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    Thank you very much for your replies folks, I really appreciated it. I will definitely try and move forward towards fine art, maybe if I'm lucky get something into a gallery. Who knows, I could get lucky.

    And thanks jnanian for that last post.

    By the way, I have a flickr page you can look at if you want: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gorlingimages/

    - Paul
     
  9. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Fine art photographs are those that have no other purpose than to be themselves. They are not of weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, events, news stories, real estate where the intent is to represent the property for sale, travels, or other things that need to have an image made for a reason. That said, fine art images can be about any of those things but just not for a purpose. The field is so wide open and amorphous that it might as well be thought of as indefinable in terms of what a fine art photograph 'should' or 'does' look like. Interesting anyone other than yourself in what you've pictured, however, is also as mysterious as whatever the 'fine art' photograph is. Photograph whatever interests you, and do it well. Let someone else decide for himself what it is beyond that.
     
  10. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    What is Fine Art Photography is the same question as What is Art.
    If you think it's Fine Art, then it is.
    If it's in a space where art is viewed, (as art) then it is art.

    -rob
     
  11. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    nice answer John.
     
  12. PaulDK

    PaulDK Member

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    Really nice reply John Voss. Thank you.
     
  13. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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  15. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    By this statement it sounds like I'm a fine art photographer :smile:

    Check out my gallery and let me knew haha


    ~Stone

    The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    There's also a lot of crossover in those genres (perhaps not real estate or wedding photos) though- look at Weegee as a prime example. His work now sells in galleries and is exhibited in museums. Same with Robert Capa. Now I doubt I'd want to hang a four-foot copy of one of the D-Day landing photos on my dining room wall, but I could see having an 8x10 print in an office somewhere. The thing I most often think of when someone says "fine art photography" is they're trying to distinguish their female nudes from cheesecake/boudoir/Playboy photography. Which is widely open to self-definition. One man's 'fine art' is another man's monkey-spanker.
     
  17. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    It's easy, you just grow a Van Dyke beard and refer to yourself as an artist :smile:
     
  18. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    How big is a rock? How much does a car cost? How beautiful is my love?
     
  19. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Yes that's what I often call my nudes to distinguish them from lame crappy nudes, and I also described them in post #22 of the above link to the other thread about fine art if anyone's curious, :wink:
     
  20. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Marry rich.
     
  21. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    I'm dating a doctor at Yale and it hasn't really helped me much... lol
     
  22. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Well, there's a rude (but really helpful) corollary to that intimating art curators and "creative directors". Shhhh! ...to your doctor.
     
  23. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    How do you wind up with a small fortune as a photographer?

    Start with a large fortune.
     
  24. ROL

    ROL Member

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    That is actually the advice for gallery owners. I should know :sad:.
     
  25. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Each time I see this subject line go by, a little voice in my head says: "It's like pornography, you'll know it when you see it." But I think for a serious answer, the one from Jovo is about as good as you're likely to get. I think 'Fine Art' might be a useful phrase to differentiate one's intentions, as in "Yes I'm a photographer, but I don't do weddings or bar mitzvahs, I'm a fine art photographer" but a rigorous, universally agreed on definition is just not likely.
     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    What makes a fine art photograph?

    • Reputation of artist in the broader arts community, which also includes photographers
    • Quality of application of his/her skill to the subject
    • Visual and conceptual interpretation of the subject, which must carry through and be strikingly evident
    • Consistency of producing his/her work to a very, very high standard, which means nothing is done cheaply
    • Bespoke production of the print, whether it be in a traditional wet darkroom or analogue-digital: even a speck on a print will fail it
    • Production of Editions, with the first often being the most pricey, and all future editions being either identical or varied. A special customer-requested edition is serious stuff
    • Reputation / representation with a recognised gallery where the artist's works and biography make clear a history of long involvement in quality art production.

    Fine art photographs are not a figment of the imagination, but a quite lofty achievement which takes a lot of hard work, money (lots of it!) and dedication to maintain a stable customer and thus, cash stream. If not producing the work yourself, the lab you deal with must be absolutely on top of their game and have a solid work ethic. No corners are cut, no expenses are spared and no pretentious assumptions about the quality of work are made, the work must speak for itself with little said (if anything at all) by the photographer.

    Landscape photography is out of favour in art schools, and has been for 20 or more years; it's seen as backward, romantic crap. If it works at all, the photographer has been long established and has a feel for the market (and the competition), and varies his/her repertoire to cater for a discerning demographic. It's no longer enough to have the biggest large format camera, a gaggle of lenses, a wooden tripod and gung ho: it is the intellectual clout and reading/analysis of the market that puts you in your place. In the last 10 years in Australia a great many photographers involved in fine art work have left the industry or moved to digital (for corporate, advertising or weddings, where the money is plentiful for those with skill) and only a very, very small number now make a living in Australia from fine art photography, namely Ted Mead, Rob Blakers, Peter Dobré, Ken Duncan... maybe three of four others (and all the same stuff being produced), and they are using adaptive digital because the market is less patient now for analogue — the "we want it now" thing is what is driving the transition to digital.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2012