As to the original question. Give a man some brushes and paints and he owns brushes and paints. Give him a camera and he is a photographer. Give a man some black and white film with that camera, show him how to process it and enlarge it and you have created a "fine Art" photographer. Kind of the nature of the game.
I honestly do not believe one needs to know the history of photography to be a fine art photographer their talent should define that. Does it really matter if someone does not know who Dorthea Lang, Imogen Cunningham, etc...are? I don't think so, just as I don't think it is necessary to know who Picasso was to paint. A person's talent should not be judged by the history they know.