Best Fine Art Photography: Let's Start With What Makes Photography Fine Art?
Fine art photography is related to the question: is photography an art? for over 180 years.
In the early days, when the camera was first found, photography was the matter of science, but then Kodak went on the market with the slogan "You press the button, we do the rest" and that was the moment when photography became popular. Anyone was able to take a photo or even become a photographer but that was also the moment when the dilemma started.
Not every image is considered art and not every photographer is considered an artist. It is the approach that makes the difference. Since the discovery of the camera, there have been photographers who perfectly understood how the camera works and strictly adhere to the rules of photography and those who had a sense of the ideal moment and were able to “catch” it.
Photo by Alex Stoddard, Los Angeles
No matter how much you learn about the photography you won’t be able to make an artistic image if you aren’t the artist in your mind and heart….if you don’t have it in your DNA. Just as any work of art, a photograph has to have the ability to move, connect with viewers and inspire them, in order to be seen as art.
Nowadays it's easier than ever to take a picture with numerous kinds of cameras and smartphones, but are all of those pictures art?
Diving Into What Makes Photography Fine Art?
Since the appearance of Kodak camera all the way to today’s digital cameras in 4K resolution, there was a constant desire to replicate the moment the most authentically. Ideas and motives are quite the same as in painting, but transferring the sentience of the moment is something that makes the photography stands out from any other kind of art.
In the beginning, photography appeared to be more of a scientific instrument than a form of art and even the earliest photographers didn’t consider themselves artists, but scientists.
Photos by Andreas Poupoutsis, Greek Cypriotconceptual
One of the reasons why photography wasn’t considered an art was because it just didn’t look like art that people were familiar with back then. The art that they knew of was made by human hand and all of a sudden there was a picture formed by the light and it came from the machine. That is why people doubted it was an artistic merit. And they were right if you ask me. Not because it came from the machine, but because the earliest photographers were just learning what they can do with it.
Nowadays, it is completely reversed. Everyone who purchases a professional camera considers themselves photographers, or even worse – artists. Unfortunately, I have to crush their dreams. You have to know so much about art, in general, to be able to capture an artistic image. You also have to have some sense of aesthetics to make it tasteful and you have to be essentially talented.
But most importantly, art is supposed to move and inspire you. It has to talk to the viewer; it has to send a message. If you make an image that causes any feelings within the viewers, then you can consider it an art.
It is actually that simple.
How To Recognize Fine Art Photography
Photo by Seanen Middleton, England
First of all fine art photography is speculative work made by an artist without any limitations or impact of anyone else (especially clients). It allows the photographer to have complete freedom which permits boundless opportunity to seek after one of a kind visual expressions and thoughts. It is a work that is proposed for exhibitions, gatherers or museums.
Photo by Aleah Michele, New York
Many photographers promote their work as “fine art” in a purpose of marketing, but it is quite simple to make a difference between fine art and other types of photography.
For instance, you can see some wedding photographers promoting their work as “fine art photography”. Well, if a photograph is created for a wedding album it’s really not fine art photography, it is wedding photography.
Photographs in magazines are also not fine art, no matter how artistic they look. If we talk about fashion magazines, then it is fashion photography etc.
*Photography can be safely classified as “fine art” ONLY if it is a work created for exhibition purposes.
How to incorporate art into photography?
In any form of art, there is a whole process of creation. There are many elements that have to be taken into consideration before making a fine art. Let’s take painting per instance.
An artist doesn’t grab canvas and brushes and start painting right away. He first needs a vision. It is the same when it comes to photography. Sure, you can grab your camera and start shooting around, but is that art?
It all starts with the vision - that something that just comes to you, something like an inspiration. What I do is look deep into myself. You will be surprised by the number of answers and ideas you will be able to find within yourself.
That vision becomes an idea that you taught fully process and define motives and the message you want to send to viewers. You need to clarify your artistic goals. You need to know where you are “going”. You should also define what feeling you want to cause in viewers. It can be anything, really.
Only after all of that you can start thinking about the composition, exposure, the lighting, the focus, poses of figures (subjects), and the forms of landscape. In the end, all of those elements should be put into a synchrony that will create a beautiful image.
It is also very important to be different. You are allowed to find an inspiration in other photographers work while you are learning, but if you aim to be an artist, well it is just stupid. Find your own voice and send messages to the people, because that is the whole meaning of art.
How to improve your fine art photography
1. There are many things you can practice and improve, and you can get advice on that anywhere, but the most useful advice I’ve ever got is to Think outside of the box. That is something you probably hear every day, I agree, but do you really understand what that sentence means?
There are many rules when it comes to photography. There are many rules when it comes to anything, but rules are there to be broken. Allow yourself to make a “mistake” every once in a while, be different, be unique.
2. If you ever hear that your idea is stupid, it is probably the best idea you have had yet. It sounds ridiculous but it is often true. Mass of people can’t understand nor imagine exceptional thigs. Don’t let their lack of imagination put you down. Be consistent with your vision.
3. Sometimes you can get into a rut of looking for the same thing over and over again. The same kind of subject photographed in the same way will only give you the same kind of photography. Don’t let yourself get used to anything, it can make you bored and get you into the blind street. There is no way that can be a good thing for an artist. That is why you have to make some drastic changes every once in a while. Take a look at your last shooting and do something completely opposite of that. Take 50 pictures contradicting your visual ‘habit’ rules. Do everything differently.
4. Increase your imagination! This is one of the most important “tools” for an artist. Study all kinds of art, go to galleries, pre-visualize: imagine yourself taking photos and actually see those photos, meditate and sleep on it.
Anybody with a camera can be a photographer nowadays, and most of them are trying to be professional photographer or artists, but the thing is that they don’t understand that they can’t be both. Many of those camera owners are calling themselves Fine Art Photographers that is why I felt the need to explain what Fine Art Photography really is.
However, there will always be those who will doubt the artistic side of photography and try to disprove it but the thing is that such a thing is impossible. The photograph that sends the message, that has the power to take you on a journey, that causes feelings, that photograph is considered art.
I hope that this was somehow helpful to you, especially if you want to be a Fine Art photographer. Head up and good luck!
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“Chelsea Lothrop is a New England-based photographer specializing in equine, pet, and portraiture photography.
Her love for animals is complemented with a unique ability to capture the bond between people and their beloved pets. When she’s not behind the camera or on a horse, Chelsea can be found writing tutorials on her photography blog.”