When Does A Photograph Become “Fine-Art”?
There are many definitions of “Fine-Art” or “Artistic Photography”: (1) A photo taken to express the artist’s perceptions that doesn’t represent a realistic rendering of the subject but conveys personal impression/emotion (2) a non-commissioned photo printed large enough to be sold and displayed as wall art; or, (3) photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as a photographer. So, when does a a landscape photograph transform from being simply a picture of a vista in Yosemite to a piece of “Fine-Art”?
Understanding why an artist, a person who creates art, creates the art in the first place provides some useful direction in providing some focus with an answer that is commonly blurred by subjectivity.
Traditional artists, like painters, sculptors and illustrators, create art in order to express their perceptions, emotions, and stories to share with others.
Through years of experimenting and fine-tuning their craft, they form an artist statement, or definition which describes their work and commitment to their craft. It is like a compass that continually guides the art, and artist; eventually manifesting the arts soul.
Fine-Art Photographer, jMcCarthy, states this as his Artist Statement: “Through purposeful paper choice, framing and composition, my work inspires to be more than an amplified digital canvas, but rather a journey into a place where your thoughts and feelings inspire you to wander; a moment which creates a timeless escape from your reality.”
A “Fine-Art Photographer” will photograph with intention, or have a specific vision of the subjects composition. This could be as simple as waiting for the correct lighting or weather conditions or experimenting with a variation of exposure length and camera settings.
Once the photograph has been taken, the photographer uses a digital-darkroom, like Adobe Lightroom or Capture OnePro to continue amd refine the photo by applying adjustments to different parts of the image or in whole. This creative process is similar to a painter layering various layers of acrylic paint on a canvas. It is the createive process in making a unique piece but is in accordance with their original vision and values of their Artist Statements.
“Fine-Art” also includes the purposeful selection of paper for printing, wood for framing, glass, mat and ornamental features that shapes the photographer’s vision for the art and brings it to life.
These intentional decisions during the shooting, developing and production stages of the photograph create its originality and become “Fine-Art”.
Although artists also sell their work, this is typically an after-thought. However, if the opportunity presents itself, through exhibits, events, reputation, or through the Internet, selling photography as art to someone who also understands the photograph’s story and appreciates its voice. To have your fine-art sold and collected is a mighty reward and testimony to the artists passion, vision and talent, but not always the reason behind its creation.
Photographer’s who embody this ideology include: Oleg Oprisco, Sean Mundy, Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Dragos Ioneanu, Tyler Harney and Charlie Waite.