What makes fine art photography "fine art"

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by zackesch, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. zackesch

    zackesch Member

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    I am a novice in photography in general. I've honestly been having trouble going out and shooting because I dont know what to shoot. After doing LOTS of digging and finding what interests me the most, I found examples of fine art that really got me thinking. I dont have the intention of creating a photo in a studio, but go out in the world. My question is, as it states in the Title, What makes fine art photography, "fine art"? Perhaps im asking myself too much to start with, but I want my time spent with photography to be on one genre instead of being a master of all.


    I know gear isnt as important as the operator, but I have an elan II w/ a canon 50mm 1.4, will only use HP5+ 400 asa, HC-110 Dev. Is this a good starting point? What im trying to do is eliminate as many distracting variables and stick with the same film, dev, focal length "normal"...etc.


    More then anything, I want to find my photographic voice and have my voice recognizable. I want to gain inspiration from photographers, but I not shoot like them if that makes any sense.
     
  2. Rom

    Rom Member

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    Photographing is like cooking !

    When you start you have to follow some receipts in terms to learn. When you get the good taste, you will be able to add your personal touch.

    So, if you want to concentrate on one genre, i will suggest:
    - find some photographers that you love their style
    - try to figure which combo film/dev they use
    - go straight in that genre of photography

    - make your art and at least, when you will have feel that you mastered it or if you want to promote, call it "fine art"
     
  3. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    Even as a student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree I have to ask the question, what makes anything fine art? The answer comes down to intentions. If the image has no practical function it can be considered fine art as opposed to commercial or editorial photography. But art that has function can also be called fine art. It is all about intention and perception. Fine art generally refers to something that is about higher thought and feeling that's soul purpose is to be art.
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    An extra 40% on the selling price.


    Steve.
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would say photographic processing is very like cooking (time/temperature), but not sure about that analogy for photographing. Probably more like fishing, but of course depends on the sort of photography you are doing.
     
  6. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    This is an un-answerable question. It's been discussed on this and other forums for years and there is still no consensus.

    Just go out and make the pictures that you wish to make. That is all that matters.
     
  7. batwister

    batwister Member

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    There isn't really an answer, especially on this forum, but two things are for certain - an art education helps and the validation of critics is absolutely necessary.

    A Leica is a bare minimum. This is what I've discovered through poring over books and literature. But go medium or large format if you want to literally nail the 'fine' bit - assuming you know how to focus.
    35mm photographers rarely win the fine art label from critics because their negatives are too small and heads too big. (Try Googling a picture of Garry Winogrand and tell me he doesn't have a big head. Critics don't like this, as it takes up gallery space reserved for their own giant craniums - physically and otherwise)

    Give it 20+ years minimum, assuming you're in your 20s/30s and ready to go. Art photographers by law of averages (historically speaking) don't get any recognition until their 40s.

    This isn't a generalisation, it's the brutal truth. Anyone who disagrees has spent too much time in the darkroom. Or not enough.

    Oh, and if you want to be a fine artist in the 21st century (most on APUG don't look at photography post-1950, no criticism, just the truth) you need to develop intense critical facility, sequence your images and learn art speak.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2012
  8. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I often find that those who call themselves "fine artists" in their website bio aren't.
     
  9. batwister

    batwister Member

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    What he said. 'Artist' is acceptable, I'll decide if it's 'fine'. :D
     
  10. zackesch

    zackesch Member

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    Thank you all for your input thus far. I see what you are saying that there is no true meaning of what fine art is. If people who see my work, and concider it "fine art" then thats good enough for me.
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    But we can but try.
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I think "Fine" is to distinguish it from "Applied" arts when it comes to field of study or work. That's one explanation.
     
  13. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    You don't have to. 35mm photos are often considered fine art. Most of your major fine art photographers from the 50s on shot 35mm.
     
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  15. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Fine Art is Fine Art, if you say it is, there really is no more to it than that. I mean, if I take a photo, call it "Fine Art", can anyone say it isn't?

    The gear you are using is fine, if you're happy with it. All you need is a camera you like to use. I like my Leica M3, but that's gear-lust, it won't take any better photos than a $50 Pentax ME.

    As for finding your photographic voice, I've no idea. Just try to take photos you want to hang on your wall is probably a good place to start.
     
  16. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Yeah, but not too hard... I think that's how their heads grow. Creative constipation.
     
  17. zackesch

    zackesch Member

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    I do dream of moving upto medium and large format "if it fits my style" one day. My 35mm is a learning tool.
     
  18. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would state that the other way round.
     
  19. litody

    litody Member

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    What makes fine art photography "fine art" ? Well fine art is like ugliness, it's in the eye of the beholder. And frankly I have never seen any photography that I would consider fine art.
     
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    It means you are selling the final product for its own sake, visually, in contrast to commercial use.
    Whether it's worth anything or not is a different subject. Give a Stradivarius violin to someone who's
    tone-deaf and it will sound abominable, or even to someone who hasn't practiced a long time. But
    most of the time calling something fine art is either wishful thinking or sheer BS. If you've really got
    the DNA to be an artist, it will just come out in time. Don't worry about it - just learn to shoot and
    print pictures and see where it leads you. Don't waste time with any wannabee mentality or fluff-
    headed pigeonhole terminology. And anyone who judges another person's work according to a mere website probably doesn't know how to print anyway. That's for geeks.
     
  21. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Don't worry about how your work is defined. Just make the best images you can, edit very critically, and keep repeating the process. Acknowledgment will, or will not, come with time.
     
  22. zackesch

    zackesch Member

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    After thinking about it, I guess I did ask an open question with no correct answer. Take Joel-Peter Witkin for example. His work is grotesque and highly unusual but highly rated.
     
  23. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    At least one nipple and contrasty unnatural lighting :wink:

    That's my rule anyway :tongue:


    ~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
     
  24. zackesch

    zackesch Member

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    How about the german taxi driver and he got his work shown of all the topless women in his cab. Isnt that fine art too stone? :tongue: :D
     
  25. scheimfluger_77

    scheimfluger_77 Subscriber

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    This is good advice. Just keep producing, I find inspiration usually comes from putting one foot in front of the other, so to speak. As for fine art, that's a moniker someone else usually "bestows," and then only after you're dead and can't collect. Do you enjoy what you are doing? Just keep going and ignore any naysayers.

    Steve
     
  26. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Zackesch- As a novice, I think you're coming to film photography at an exciting time. I know it's contrary to "the sky is falling" thoughts on film but, "hardware" is cheap, and the entire world is your marketplace. "Software" is still available and, while choices aren't as varied as before, what's still produced is (mostly) exceptional. There's a kinship among film users, and information/guidance is more available than when I started out, over 40 years ago. The internet gives you the opportunity to see work by wonderful photographers you'd never knew existed before. About 80% of my favorite contemporary photographers I found on this site. They live around the world, and I never would have seen their work in the pre-internet days.
    If I were in your shoes, I'd spend the $25 to become a subscriber. Then, I'd dive into the Gallery, spending time looking at images. I'd note the ones that "spoke to me", and figure out why. Then, I'd dig deeper into that photographer's work, noting the consistency of their vision and craftsmanship. Then, I'd go out with my camera, armed with the knowledge of what "speaks to me", and make my own.