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What is Fine Art Photography?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Before the invention of the photograph, fine art consisted mainly of painting, drawing, and sculpture. However, photography is now considered to be in the same class as these fine arts. Just like paintings, photographs rely on composition and perspective.

Fine art photography is a kind of photography that is created with the intent of producing gallery-quality and museum-quality work. Furthermore, it is meant to be viewed as an expression of the artist's vision. Fine art photography is distinct from photojournalism in that it is not created in order to support another piece of work, such as a piece of journalistic writing. It is also distinct from commercial photography and fashion photography in that it is not intended to be used to sell a product. Despite the distinction between these forms of photography, there are some interesting overlaps.

Photography was not fully accepted as a fine art until after the middle of the 20th century. In fact, it was not until the 1950's that it became acceptable to frame a photograph for a museum or gallery exhibition. Before this time, prints of photographs were simply pasted onto a board and hung. Alternatively, they were printed with a white border and pinned to walls instead of hung.

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Since the middle of the 20th century, fine art photography has gone from a barely accepted medium that was only afforded the crudest of frames, to a well-respected modern art that is often displayed with great respect. From the 1970's to the 1990's it became more and more accepted and popular to print photographs on a large scale, give them a glossy finish, and hang them in frames just as if they were paintings.

The increased scale and improved framing of fine art photography speaks directly to the increased popularity and acceptance of the medium. There are two American organizations that have done a great deal of work to promote fine art photography. The first is the Aperture Foundation. The Aperture Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to fine art photography. The organization publishes a quarterly magazine called Aperture. The organization also publishes books of fine art photography.t

The second major force that has supported fine art photography is the New York Museum of Modern Art, commonly referred to as the MoMA. Even in the 1960's, when fine art photography was first getting some recognition, the Museum of Modern Art presented shows that promoted this genre.

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lighth0se33
Post 4

A lady who specializes in fine art wedding photography shot my wedding. Though I loved some of her photos, I have to say that her filtered work was not for me.

I'm all about realism, so I loved the pictures she shot that were not altered in any way. However, I hated the ones where she blurred out our wrinkles by softening the whole scene.

I know that some people prefer this type of photo, but to me, it just didn't look like us. I cherish our imperfections as part of who we are, and I wanted them portrayed in our wedding photos.

Fortunately, she had several versions of each photo. I was able to purchase the realistic looking versions of all of them.

cloudel
Post 3

@Perdido – I have to disagree with your friend. I'm sure it's an accomplishment to understand all the workings of film and filters, but using a digital camera to capture a scene or setup does not make you less of an artist.

I think that the art lies in being able to either see a beautiful, eye-catching scene or arrange objects in a visually appealing way. So what if you have a digital piece of equipment that can handle the lighting and quality for you? Does it really matter that all you did was take advantage of this and snap the button?

I believe that you can capture art just as well with a digital camera as with old

-fashioned equipment. In fact, you are at an advantage, because it trims down the time and effort you have to put into it, and you can snap a scene quickly that might have changed by the time someone else got all their equipment set up.
Perdido
Post 2

Photographers who have worked for many years with film cameras to produce fine art do not take kindly to those who use digital cameras. This has been my experience, anyway.

I like to use my digital camera, because it takes wonderfully descriptive pictures. I can see tiny details in a flower, and the color is brilliant. The way it captures light is unparalleled.

However, I have a friend who has used film cameras all her life. Whenever I post my work to social networking sites or hang it in my office, she gives me a long lecture about how what I'm doing is not really an art form, because all I have to do is click a button.

I agree that it does seem there should be more work involved. I have no idea how to adjust lighting and use lens filters, and she is an expert at it.

wavy58
Post 1

I have a friend who sells his fine art photography prints. He has been a professional photographer for decades, and he has a day job working for the local newspaper. However, he needs an outlet besides getting his work published on low-quality newsprint.

He has been mentioned in several national magazines for his fine prints. He has had exhibits in art galleries across the state, and I can see why his work is so popular.

He has the ability to choose an inanimate subject and somehow make it come to life. He shoots a lot of old barns and abandoned buildings, but he captures their mystery and intrigue.

I'm sure he is glad that photography is considered an art form now. He is very artistic, and it's wonderful that he has the opportunity to be recognized for it.

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