There's a bit of an unanswered question here: What is the *point* of fine art photography (whatever the term may encompass)? Consider your own answer before reading further.

I think the traditional answer is the gallery wall---a "fine art" photo in any other setting is kind of out of its habitat, and private displays thereof are sort of expected to conform to the gallery aesthetic. When a fine-art print REALLY makes the big time, it ends up in a museum. Hence the emphasis on archival materials: the intended audience is posterity, and as much of it as possible, with ideally no shift at all from the original state of the image.

But I'm not sure that model really resonates with as many people as it used to, especially young adults who are accustomed to the internet as a conduit of (largely undifferentiated) media. In that sense, maybe the aspirants you're seeing aren't "fine-art photographer wannabes" at all, but photographers who wannabe...what? Something different. It might be interesting to interrogate them about their ambitions, and see how much those ambitions really comport with the "fine art" model.

-NT