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  1. #1
    thefizz's Avatar
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    What is "Fine Art"?

    I see more and more people setting up web sites (I plan to do one myself some day) to show and sell their photographs. A lot of them describe their work as Fine Art Photography whether it is darkroom produced or from an inkjet printer. Some of these people may be experienced and some not so.

    So can someone define "Fine Art Photography" for me please? Does it matter how it is produced? Are we all Fine Art Photographers?

    Peter

    p.s. Apologies if this is in the wrong forum section.
    www.thephotoshop.ie
    www.monochromemeath.com

    "you get your mouth off of my finger" Les McLean

  2. #2

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    Not that I'm any expert, but lurking through all the old forum posts last night I actually came across this answer to this very question, posted by David Hall:

    it's art if you say it is, as the artist. It's fine art of the rest of the world agrees.

    To me, that about sums it up.

  3. #3

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    "So can someone define "Fine Art Photography" for me please?"

    Can't be done.

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    its a marketing tool used by galleries and so called "fine artists"
    so they can charge what they want for what they want to sell...

  5. #5
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Shively
    "So can someone define "Fine Art Photography" for me please?"

    Can't be done.
    Work done with an artistic purpose and the requisite skill to communicate this.

    Defining art is really not difficult - PRODUCING it is the hard part!

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    Dear Peter,

    It's a substantially meaningless term, except perhaps in the long term when you're dead and people say, "Ah! Peter! Now there was an artist..."

    There are two criteria for pictures: critical appeal, and sales. Unless you are independently wealthy, the latter is usually to be preferred.

    There's actually a free module about it in the Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com, which you might find interesting or amusing or both.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  7. #7
    thefizz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks

    It's a substantially meaningless term
    That seems to be the case today as very Tom, Dick and Harry boasts about producing Fine Art Photography even though some of them wouldn't know a properly produced photograph if it slapped them in the face.

    I know what I like might be crap to what someone else likes but I thought the term "Fine Art" applied to the processes (i.e. FB paper, archival washing, mounting etc.) and not the actual subject of the picture.

    To me a properly prduced FB print could be classed as Fine Art but not something printed in my local 1 hour shop?
    www.thephotoshop.ie
    www.monochromemeath.com

    "you get your mouth off of my finger" Les McLean

  8. #8
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    It is difficult to define "art," but it is easy to define "fine art."

    "Fine art" is art for display only, not for illustration, document, journalistic purposes, commercial applications, advertisement, etc. "Fine art" does not mean "art" or "good art" or "great art."

    "Fine art" is opposed to "applied art." Specific works of "fine art" may be crap, and specific works of "applied art" or "illustration" may be great art, but there is nothing in the terms "fine art" or "applied art" that suggests one or the other.

    "Fine artist" is something you can put on your tax forms. "Artist" is something that it is up to future generations to decide.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by thefizz
    That seems to be the case today as very Tom, Dick and Harry boasts about producing Fine Art Photography even though some of them wouldn't know a properly produced photograph if it slapped them in the face.

    I know what I like might be crap to what someone else likes but I thought the term "Fine Art" applied to the processes (i.e. FB paper, archival washing, mounting etc.) and not the actual subject of the picture.

    To me a properly prduced FB print could be classed as Fine Art but not something printed in my local 1 hour shop?
    Technique has absolutely nothing to do with it. Think of 'installation art' or deliberately ephemeral art. You could have a 'fine art' print made by your mini-lab, or you could make a palladium print on hand-made paper coated by virgins under the light of the full moon and processed to last for 1000 years and still have it fail as fine art. Consider some of Jackson Pollock's 'Pure Paint' paintings: the highest or finest of mid-to-late 20th century 'Fine Art' but falling apart at an ever-increasing rate today.

    David's definition -- that 'fine art' is the antithesis of 'applied art' -- is the one that has been accepted for the last 200 or 300 years, but without wishing to disagree with David for one moment about a classical definition, I'd suggest that 500 years ago there was no distinction and that his definition is, shall we say, under siege to some extent today. It's probably the best definition you'll ever get, though.

    Cheers,

    Roger

  10. #10

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    Way back in the days of my college youth, Fine Art photography was distinguished from Commercial or professional photography. They were separate programs with separate degrees. They also had significantly separate philosophys. The main difference had to do with vision and technique. The Fine Art people considered vision the priority...technique was less important and played a secondary role in the creation of Art. The Fine Artists learned technique as they needed it. As I recall, none of them ever touched a densitometer.
    The Commercial photographers were more pragmatic. Their courses were clearly geared to learning techniques and understanding the materials and processes (As I remember one of the primary freshman courses was called M&P; Materials and Processes. Better known to the student body as Misery and Pain).
    Commercial photographers dreamed of making it big in NY and shooting covers for ultra fancy glossy magazines. The Fine Art photographers....had much more interesting discussions on philosophy and poetry. I think most of them figured they could make a few bucks waiting tables until they landed that teaching job.

    Of course I describe the extremes. Most of us were somewhere in the middle, regardless of the program we chose. So Fine Art kind of blends into Commercial and visa versa.

    Generally though, Fine Art is focused on marketing through galleries, whereas commercial work....generally is not (with exceptions). I have worked on both sides of this fence. Personally, I find the Fine Art side immensely more satisfying from a creative perspective, and contrary to some opinions here, I find it much more preferred than the days when I made a descent living as a commercial photographer.

    Regards,
    Don Sigl
    www.drs-fineartphoto.com

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