Fine Art Photography

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When it comes to photography I love doing it all: Working for big-wig clients who want something very specific done that they are unable to create themselves. Getting a client who is willing to toss me complete creative control. Working with Models and doing consumer level portrait work. It all appeals to me!! But when I get a chance to shoot for myself I invest my time in personal projects, usually conceptual in nature, that send a message or express a feeling or idea I have that I just can't seem to put into words. I call this work "Fine Art Photography" When asked what it is.. other than "Personnel Project", (which sometimes doesn't fit the circumstance in which the project is being spoken about) "Fine Art" seems to be the only other term there is for work of such a nature.

I've never liked the term Fine Art.. It often doesn't seem like the proper description for what I am creating with photography.. yet it's become such a commonly used word in the photography world that I have begun to identify my (as well as other photographers) work with it.

So what makes a photograph "Fine Art"? Can a personal project of mine that is very commercially oriented or a project I make specifically to be displayed on social media be considered "Fine Art" with the same confidence as a project made for a formal art show or book? What is "Fine Art" anyways?
 

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Any answer to this question is subjective, it will vary from person to person, it is one of those grey areas that is definitely up for debate :) For me, fine art photography is any photograph taken for any purpose other than pure documentation. Fine art is the culmination of all of the decisions the artist has made along the way including how much or how little control they take over the process each step of the way.
 

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Wikipedia - "It is photography with fewer aesthetic restrictions which allows unlimited freedom to pursue unique visual expressions and ideas. It's personal work that's intended for galleries, museums or collectors."

:D
 

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When it comes to photography I love doing it all: Working for big-wig clients who want something very specific done that they are unable to create themselves. Getting a client who is willing to toss me complete creative control. Working with Models and doing consumer level portrait work. It all appeals to me!! But when I get a chance to shoot for myself I invest my time in personal projects, usually conceptual in nature, that send a message or express a feeling or idea I have that I just can't seem to put into words. I call this work "Fine Art Photography" When asked what it is.. other than "Personnel Project", (which sometimes doesn't fit the circumstance in which the project is being spoken about) "Fine Art" seems to be the only other term there is for work of such a nature.

I've never liked the term Fine Art.. It often doesn't seem like the proper description for what I am creating with photography.. yet it's become such a commonly used word in the photography world that I have begun to identify my (as well as other photographers) work with it.

So what makes a photograph "Fine Art"? Can a personal project of mine that is very commercially oriented or a project I make specifically to be displayed on social media be considered "Fine Art" with the same confidence as a project made for a formal art show or book? What is "Fine Art" anyways?

I once saw a fabulous quilt show which included a sphere, about 12 feet in diameter, covered in quilt. In effect it was a huge, spherical quilt. It included a note from the quilter saying "This quilt is absolutely useless, so it must be a work of art."

Then I saw a stainless steel girder outside the Whitney Museum, years ago, with a plaque that quoted the artist, Walter De la Maria, reading "This stainless steel bar is only a stainless steel bar unless accompanied by this signed statement by the artist, in which case it is a work of art."

These two quotes are about "art" and I don't even dare think about what makes something fine art. Worth looking at? Art as contrasted with craft? Bringing in the word creative just introduces another layer of subjectivity. How many "creative artists" are just one trick ponies? Does copying yourself over and over constitute creativity? (Look at all the worms in that can!!)
 

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Wiki's article on "Fine Art" is quite interesting: Fine art - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On Fine Art:
Wiki said:
One definition of fine art is "a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture." In that sense, there are conceptual differences between the Fine Arts and the Applied Arts. As originally conceived, and as understood for much of the modern era, the perception of aesthetic qualities required a refined judgment usually referred to as having good taste, which differentiated fine art from popular art and entertainment. However, in the Postmodern era, the value of good taste is disappearing, to the point that having bad taste has become synonymous with being avant-garde. The term "fine art" is now rarely found in art history, but remains common in the art trade and as a title for university departments and degrees, even if rarely used in teaching.

The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline according to traditional Western European canons. This definition originally excluded the applied or decorative arts, and the products of what were regarded as crafts. In contemporary practice these distinctions and restrictions have become essentially meaningless, as the concept or intention of the artist is given primacy, regardless of the means through which this is expressed.

On Fine Art Photography:
Wiki said:
Photography[edit]
Main article: Fine-art photography

Ansel Adams' The Tetons and the Snake River, 1942
Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalism visually communicates stories and ideas, mainly in print and digital media. Fine art photography is created primarily as an expression of the artist’s vision, but has also been important in advancing certain causes. The work of Ansel Adams in Yosemite and Yellowstone provides an example. Adams is one of the most widely recognized fine art photographers of the 20th century, and was an avid promoter of conservation. While his primary focus was on photography as art, his work raised public awareness of the beauty of the Sierra Nevada and helped to build political support for their protection.
 
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W.Y.Photo

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When it comes to photography I love doing it all: Working for big-wig clients who want something very specific done that they are unable to create themselves. Getting a client who is willing to toss me complete creative control. Working with Models and doing consumer level portrait work. It all appeals to me!! But when I get a chance to shoot for myself I invest my time in personal projects, usually conceptual in nature, that send a message or express a feeling or idea I have that I just can't seem to put into words. I call this work "Fine Art Photography" When asked what it is.. other than "Personnel Project", (which sometimes doesn't fit the circumstance in which the project is being spoken about) "Fine Art" seems to be the only other term there is for work of such a nature.

I've never liked the term Fine Art.. It often doesn't seem like the proper description for what I am creating with photography.. yet it's become such a commonly used word in the photography world that I have begun to identify my (as well as other photographers) work with it.

So what makes a photograph "Fine Art"? Can a personal project of mine that is very commercially oriented or a project I make specifically to be displayed on social media be considered "Fine Art" with the same confidence as a project made for a formal art show or book? What is "Fine Art" anyways?

I once saw a fabulous quilt show which included a sphere, about 12 feet in diameter, covered in quilt. In effect it was a huge, spherical quilt. It included a note from the quilter saying "This quilt is absolutely useless, so it must be a work of art."

Then I saw a stainless steel girder outside the Whitney Museum, years ago, with a plaque that quoted the artist, Walter De la Maria, reading "This stainless steel bar is only a stainless steel bar unless accompanied by this signed statement by the artist, in which case it is a work of art."

These two quotes are about "art" and I don't even dare think about what makes something fine art. Worth looking at? Art as contrasted with craft? Bringing in the word creative just introduces another layer of subjectivity. How many "creative artists" are just one trick ponies? Does copying yourself over and over constitute creativity? (Look at all the worms in that can!!)

Good point. especially with such an ambiguous word as "Fine". Like.. what does that constitute?? When someone says fine they either mean acceptable or extraordinary, In most cases I guess you could say that "Fine Art" should only be an umbrella term for exceptional artwork; however.. that is most definitely not the case based off of its current usage; this either means everyone's calling their work "acceptable, but not fantastic art" or that "Fine Art" is essentially the essence of a Humblebrag shoved into 2 simple words :p
 
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Wiki's article on "Fine Art" is quite interesting: Fine art - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On Fine Art:
Wiki said:
One definition of fine art is "a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture." In that sense, there are conceptual differences between the Fine Arts and the Applied Arts. As originally conceived, and as understood for much of the modern era, the perception of aesthetic qualities required a refined judgment usually referred to as having good taste, which differentiated fine art from popular art and entertainment. However, in the Postmodern era, the value of good taste is disappearing, to the point that having bad taste has become synonymous with being avant-garde. The term "fine art" is now rarely found in art history, but remains common in the art trade and as a title for university departments and degrees, even if rarely used in teaching.

The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline according to traditional Western European canons. This definition originally excluded the applied or decorative arts, and the products of what were regarded as crafts. In contemporary practice these distinctions and restrictions have become essentially meaningless, as the concept or intention of the artist is given primacy, regardless of the means through which this is expressed.

On Fine Art Photography:
Wiki said:
Photography[edit]
Main article: Fine-art photography

Ansel Adams' The Tetons and the Snake River, 1942
Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalism visually communicates stories and ideas, mainly in print and digital media. Fine art photography is created primarily as an expression of the artist’s vision, but has also been important in advancing certain causes. The work of Ansel Adams in Yosemite and Yellowstone provides an example. Adams is one of the most widely recognized fine art photographers of the 20th century, and was an avid promoter of conservation. While his primary focus was on photography as art, his work raised public awareness of the beauty of the Sierra Nevada and helped to build political support for their protection.

I like that Wikipedia definition a lot. Good find!!
 

Jim Walczak

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When it comes to photography I love doing it all: Working for big-wig clients who want something very specific done that they are unable to create themselves. Getting a client who is willing to toss me complete creative control. Working with Models and doing consumer level portrait work. It all appeals to me!! But when I get a chance to shoot for myself I invest my time in personal projects, usually conceptual in nature, that send a message or express a feeling or idea I have that I just can't seem to put into words. I call this work "Fine Art Photography" When asked what it is.. other than "Personnel Project", (which sometimes doesn't fit the circumstance in which the project is being spoken about) "Fine Art" seems to be the only other term there is for work of such a nature.

I've never liked the term Fine Art.. It often doesn't seem like the proper description for what I am creating with photography.. yet it's become such a commonly used word in the photography world that I have begun to identify my (as well as other photographers) work with it.

So what makes a photograph "Fine Art"? Can a personal project of mine that is very commercially oriented or a project I make specifically to be displayed on social media be considered "Fine Art" with the same confidence as a project made for a formal art show or book? What is "Fine Art" anyways?


I'm not really sure if this is gonna help, but when I have to think of photography in terms of definitions, I tend to think of it in 1 of 3 categories. While this may be rather obvious, first and foremost you have the "snap shot". In my opinion, these are images that are either shot by folks who are inexperienced, or even people who may be well seasoned professionals who are simply on "vacation" or just a family outing. Such images can range from truly elaborate and beautiful to "why didn't you delete that while it was still in the camera?" (LOL). As far as I'm concerned, there's NOTHING wrong with snapshots...they often make for some of the best memories and keepsakes. That said, most of the time...with my own work at least...I don't consider snapshots as anything I'd go to the bother of trying to frame either. -If- they get printed, the prints usually end up stuffed in a desk drawer to be pulled out when family or friends come over for holidays.

Once you move beyond the snap shot, I think of photography in terms of either photojournalism or art. To me these are two rather distinct disciplines. The photojournalist for example, has a dedication to "the truth". The purpose of their image is to truthfully represent an event. That's not to say that photojournalism can't be done with a degree of artistic flair...if anything that's perhaps what sets many photojournalists apart as being worthy of mention. That's not however the primary goal of a photojournalist (at least it shouldn't be). On a personal level, I do in fact have the utmost respect for photojournalism...my father worked for a major Cleveland newspaper for over 40 years, so journalism as a whole is something I grew up with. That said, it's not what I do personally. I'm an artist. While I don't typically refine that definition any more than that, when I have to narrow it down, I'm a digital artist...I use digital cameras and a digital darkroom to "create" my images (I also do extensive work in Photoshop and Illustrator and I also do 3D modeling and animation and some degree of video work...I'm a musician too). Sometimes those images are fairly representative of what came off the camera, sometimes they may be rather extensive manipulations or composites. My "goal" as a digital artist, be it photography, vector images or even 3d animations, isn't specifically a matter of trying to convey any sense of the truth, it's simply to create interesting, if not beautiful or evocative images that hopefully others will enjoy. For myself, the computer (and monitor, printer, etc) are tools that I use in conjunction with the camera.

With that all said, I do try very hard to avoid getting caught up in the specifics of definitions or labels. Once you apply a label to yourself, you risk exposure to stereotypes. For example, as a person who's also an art lover and a rather perpetual student of art history, I tend to cringe when I hear the term "contemporary art". For myself, that term evokes immediate images of a person who spent months and months, painting a tiny black dot in the center of a 40' x 50' canvas...then named the so-called work something ridiculous, like "Man's Aberrational Perception of His Own Disdain for Personality"...seriously...gimme a break! Then of course there's people like Jackson Pollak...no...really...maybe I should try selling a paint drop cloth or two at an exhibition! LOL! Obviously not all contemporary art is like this, but the term alone does tend to evoke a certain preconception.

I will say that if people choose to label my own work with such definitions...so be it. If someone were to refer to my work as "fine art", whether it's my photography or my vector work, I can't really say I have much opinion about it either way. I've done a number of 3d animations based on the work of Leonardo da Vinci, so I suspect that work could be seen in such a context. I would not however define myself personally with such perimeters. I'm a digital artist...and that really is about as much thought as I put into it. I would like to believe that my work stands well enough on it's own and that the person who created the work doesn't really need such definitions.

So with that, my suggestion is simply this; if you're comfortable with terms such as "fine art photographer" (or perhaps even plan to use such terms as some form of marketing device), then enjoy it for what it is. Otherwise, personally at least, I really just wouldn't sweat it. After all, "a rose by any other name...".

Just my own personal opinions...please use them only for what you feel they are worth to you.
 
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When it comes to photography I love doing it all: Working for big-wig clients who want something very specific done that they are unable to create themselves. Getting a client who is willing to toss me complete creative control. Working with Models and doing consumer level portrait work. It all appeals to me!! But when I get a chance to shoot for myself I invest my time in personal projects, usually conceptual in nature, that send a message or express a feeling or idea I have that I just can't seem to put into words. I call this work "Fine Art Photography" When asked what it is.. other than "Personnel Project", (which sometimes doesn't fit the circumstance in which the project is being spoken about) "Fine Art" seems to be the only other term there is for work of such a nature.

I've never liked the term Fine Art.. It often doesn't seem like the proper description for what I am creating with photography.. yet it's become such a commonly used word in the photography world that I have begun to identify my (as well as other photographers) work with it.

So what makes a photograph "Fine Art"? Can a personal project of mine that is very commercially oriented or a project I make specifically to be displayed on social media be considered "Fine Art" with the same confidence as a project made for a formal art show or book? What is "Fine Art" anyways?


I'm not really sure if this is gonna help, but when I have to think of photography in terms of definitions, I tend to think of it in 1 of 3 categories. While this may be rather obvious, first and foremost you have the "snap shot". In my opinion, these are images that are either shot by folks who are inexperienced, or even people who may be well seasoned professionals who are simply on "vacation" or just a family outing. Such images can range from truly elaborate and beautiful to "why didn't you delete that while it was still in the camera?" (LOL). As far as I'm concerned, there's NOTHING wrong with snapshots...they often make for some of the best memories and keepsakes. That said, most of the time...with my own work at least...I don't consider snapshots as anything I'd go to the bother of trying to frame either. -If- they get printed, the prints usually end up stuffed in a desk drawer to be pulled out when family or friends come over for holidays.

Once you move beyond the snap shot, I think of photography in terms of either photojournalism or art. To me these are two rather distinct disciplines. The photojournalist for example, has a dedication to "the truth". The purpose of their image is to truthfully represent an event. That's not to say that photojournalism can't be done with a degree of artistic flair...if anything that's perhaps what sets many photojournalists apart as being worthy of mention. That's not however the primary goal of a photojournalist (at least it shouldn't be). On a personal level, I do in fact have the utmost respect for photojournalism...my father worked for a major Cleveland newspaper for over 40 years, so journalism as a whole is something I grew up with. That said, it's not what I do personally. I'm an artist. While I don't typically refine that definition any more than that, when I have to narrow it down, I'm a digital artist...I use digital cameras and a digital darkroom to "create" my images (I also do extensive work in Photoshop and Illustrator and I also do 3D modeling and animation and some degree of video work...I'm a musician too). Sometimes those images are fairly representative of what came off the camera, sometimes they may be rather extensive manipulations or composites. My "goal" as a digital artist, be it photography, vector images or even 3d animations, isn't specifically a matter of trying to convey any sense of the truth, it's simply to create interesting, if not beautiful or evocative images that hopefully others will enjoy. For myself, the computer (and monitor, printer, etc) are tools that I use in conjunction with the camera.

With that all said, I do try very hard to avoid getting caught up in the specifics of definitions or labels. Once you apply a label to yourself, you risk exposure to stereotypes. For example, as a person who's also an art lover and a rather perpetual student of art history, I tend to cringe when I hear the term "contemporary art". For myself, that term evokes immediate images of a person who spent months and months, painting a tiny black dot in the center of a 40' x 50' canvas...then named the so-called work something ridiculous, like "Man's Aberrational Perception of His Own Disdain for Personality"...seriously...gimme a break! Then of course there's people like Jackson Pollak...no...really...maybe I should try selling a paint drop cloth or two at an exhibition! LOL! Obviously not all contemporary art is like this, but the term alone does tend to evoke a certain preconception.

I will say that if people choose to label my own work with such definitions...so be it. If someone were to refer to my work as "fine art", whether it's my photography or my vector work, I can't really say I have much opinion about it either way. I've done a number of 3d animations based on the work of Leonardo da Vinci, so I suspect that work could be seen in such a context. I would not however define myself personally with such perimeters. I'm a digital artist...and that really is about as much thought as I put into it. I would like to believe that my work stands well enough on it's own and that the person who created the work doesn't really need such definitions.

So with that, my suggestion is simply this; if you're comfortable with terms such as "fine art photographer" (or perhaps even plan to use such terms as some form of marketing device), then enjoy it for what it is. Otherwise, personally at least, I really just wouldn't sweat it. After all, "a rose by any other name...".

Just my own personal opinions...please use them only for what you feel they are worth to you.

I completely agree with you on every point you made. Maybe I should ditch the term "Fine Art" and find something I like better.. I just don't know what that better term might be.:rolleyes:


My Favorite.:586:
 

Jim Walczak

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Well, based on your
When it comes to photography I love doing it all: Working for big-wig clients who want something very specific done that they are unable to create themselves. Getting a client who is willing to toss me complete creative control. Working with Models and doing consumer level portrait work. It all appeals to me!! But when I get a chance to shoot for myself I invest my time in personal projects, usually conceptual in nature, that send a message or express a feeling or idea I have that I just can't seem to put into words. I call this work "Fine Art Photography" When asked what it is.. other than "Personnel Project", (which sometimes doesn't fit the circumstance in which the project is being spoken about) "Fine Art" seems to be the only other term there is for work of such a nature.

I've never liked the term Fine Art.. It often doesn't seem like the proper description for what I am creating with photography.. yet it's become such a commonly used word in the photography world that I have begun to identify my (as well as other photographers) work with it.

So what makes a photograph "Fine Art"? Can a personal project of mine that is very commercially oriented or a project I make specifically to be displayed on social media be considered "Fine Art" with the same confidence as a project made for a formal art show or book? What is "Fine Art" anyways?


I'm not really sure if this is gonna help, but when I have to think of photography in terms of definitions, I tend to think of it in 1 of 3 categories. While this may be rather obvious, first and foremost you have the "snap shot". In my opinion, these are images that are either shot by folks who are inexperienced, or even people who may be well seasoned professionals who are simply on "vacation" or just a family outing. Such images can range from truly elaborate and beautiful to "why didn't you delete that while it was still in the camera?" (LOL). As far as I'm concerned, there's NOTHING wrong with snapshots...they often make for some of the best memories and keepsakes. That said, most of the time...with my own work at least...I don't consider snapshots as anything I'd go to the bother of trying to frame either. -If- they get printed, the prints usually end up stuffed in a desk drawer to be pulled out when family or friends come over for holidays.

Once you move beyond the snap shot, I think of photography in terms of either photojournalism or art. To me these are two rather distinct disciplines. The photojournalist for example, has a dedication to "the truth". The purpose of their image is to truthfully represent an event. That's not to say that photojournalism can't be done with a degree of artistic flair...if anything that's perhaps what sets many photojournalists apart as being worthy of mention. That's not however the primary goal of a photojournalist (at least it shouldn't be). On a personal level, I do in fact have the utmost respect for photojournalism...my father worked for a major Cleveland newspaper for over 40 years, so journalism as a whole is something I grew up with. That said, it's not what I do personally. I'm an artist. While I don't typically refine that definition any more than that, when I have to narrow it down, I'm a digital artist...I use digital cameras and a digital darkroom to "create" my images (I also do extensive work in Photoshop and Illustrator and I also do 3D modeling and animation and some degree of video work...I'm a musician too). Sometimes those images are fairly representative of what came off the camera, sometimes they may be rather extensive manipulations or composites. My "goal" as a digital artist, be it photography, vector images or even 3d animations, isn't specifically a matter of trying to convey any sense of the truth, it's simply to create interesting, if not beautiful or evocative images that hopefully others will enjoy. For myself, the computer (and monitor, printer, etc) are tools that I use in conjunction with the camera.

With that all said, I do try very hard to avoid getting caught up in the specifics of definitions or labels. Once you apply a label to yourself, you risk exposure to stereotypes. For example, as a person who's also an art lover and a rather perpetual student of art history, I tend to cringe when I hear the term "contemporary art". For myself, that term evokes immediate images of a person who spent months and months, painting a tiny black dot in the center of a 40' x 50' canvas...then named the so-called work something ridiculous, like "Man's Aberrational Perception of His Own Disdain for Personality"...seriously...gimme a break! Then of course there's people like Jackson Pollak...no...really...maybe I should try selling a paint drop cloth or two at an exhibition! LOL! Obviously not all contemporary art is like this, but the term alone does tend to evoke a certain preconception.

I will say that if people choose to label my own work with such definitions...so be it. If someone were to refer to my work as "fine art", whether it's my photography or my vector work, I can't really say I have much opinion about it either way. I've done a number of 3d animations based on the work of Leonardo da Vinci, so I suspect that work could be seen in such a context. I would not however define myself personally with such perimeters. I'm a digital artist...and that really is about as much thought as I put into it. I would like to believe that my work stands well enough on it's own and that the person who created the work doesn't really need such definitions.

So with that, my suggestion is simply this; if you're comfortable with terms such as "fine art photographer" (or perhaps even plan to use such terms as some form of marketing device), then enjoy it for what it is. Otherwise, personally at least, I really just wouldn't sweat it. After all, "a rose by any other name...".

Just my own personal opinions...please use them only for what you feel they are worth to you.

I completely agree with you on every point you made. Maybe I should ditch the term "Fine Art" and find something I like better.. I just don't know what that better term might be.:rolleyes:


My Favorite.:586:
Well, based on your original comments, it sounds as though you do a fair amount of "commercial photography", however as you said, your personal work would constitute "conceptual photography". With that in mind, I might just call myself "a photographer"...and when someone asks for a more refined definition, just tell them you're "multidisciplined". After all, as a musician, I play guitar, bass, drums, a bit of keys, some blues harp, etc., so I'm usually considered "a multi-instrumentalist"...pretty much a similar concept.

:)
 

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