What is Fine Art Photography?

What is Fine Art Photography?

I thought that I would take a look at the topic of fine art photography.  What is it, and is photography art?  Well, yes, it absolutely is!

Let’s just start by saying that there isn’t an official definition of fine art photography.  And that is the beauty of it!  Because, in the end, fine art photographs are the interpretation of the vision of the photographer.

Fine Art is an Expression of Art

The words ‘fine art’ conjure up thoughts of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Old Masters. But fine art doesn’t just mean paintings that have been created by those amazing and famous artists.

Fine art is the expression of art in any medium. It is the expression of the vision of the artist. And fine art doesn’t just mean paintings, photographs or anything that you can hang on the wall. It can also include sculpture, jewellery and any creations that you can touch or move about (or not!).

Every creation starts with an idea, a thought, a vision. Sometimes that vision is defined and clear and sometimes it develops as the artist works with the creation that unfolds. It is the intent of the artist drives that vision.

The Creation of Fine Art Photographs

However, creation is rarely linear. It requires thought and intention but it usually doesn’t just happen in one easy and straightforward move.

A fine art photograph is also brought to life in this way.

The photographer starts with the vision, the idea and then sets out to realise that. But often things change and the photographer has to adapt. The weather turns for the landscape or nature photographer, the lions don’t make an appearance for the nature photographer, the flowers just won’t stay in position for the still life photographer, or the chocolate melts for the food photographer. So many variables and so many issues to contend with before the photographer gets his fine art photograph.

Editing, Editing, Editing!

And then there is editing! Every photographer who creates fine art photographs edits their images. The image that comes out of camera in its RAW state is flat and dull and lifeless. It needs some love and attention.

This is where editing comes in so that the image can be transformed into the photographers original vision.

black and white picture of horse with head near front leg

This used to be done in the darkroom with chemicals and water but now it is done on screen with a whole different, yet no less complicated, set of skills.

Lightroom and Photoshop are integral parts of the vision of the fine art photograph. They are a critical part of making the original vision and idea come to life. Sadly, when they first appeared, they were often overused and misused. We even got a verb out of Photoshop. An image had been ‘photoshopped’ because it looked fake and unreal. I remember looking at an image of a model in a glossy mag and being amazed at how bizarre her arms looked. There were absolutely no lines or any kinds of natural looking creases or shadows. It was awful. She looked like a doll.

Photoshop Used Well

Happily now you are much less likely to see this flagrant abuse of Photoshop. It still happens but generally speaking photographers use it for the nuances that it can help with. Making colours pop just a little more, removing that small eyesore that you missed when you took the photograph and much more.

For those who create surrealist, or even just very creative digital art, Photoshop is a lifesaver! The possibilities are endless and, when used intentionally, can be part of the creation of amazing and spectacular fine art.

So, next time you are thinking about buying a fine art photograph, remember that there is so much that has gone into that image. Time, skill, vision, technical skills and so much more. All of this to make your life just a little bit more beautiful.

If you want to have a look at some fine art photographs, take a look at my horse gallery here, or buy prints here!

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