Defining Fine Art Photography

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Fine art photography, many photographers call their photo fine art. But many others who saw the same photo will say it not. And why is that? This is probably one of many questions that I always ask. What is Fine art and defining fine art photography?

Credit: Nude composition 19 from 1988 by Jaan Künnap from Wikipedia


According to Wikipedia

Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as a photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, such as photojournalism, which provides a documentary visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the subjective intent of the photographer; and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.

Another from

“It refers to an imprecise category of photographs, created in accordance with the creative vision of the cameraman. The basic idea behind the genre is that instead of merely capturing a realistic rendition of the subject, the photographer is aiming to produce a more personal – typically more evocative or atmospheric – impression.”

Or this from

“In fine art photography, therefore, the artist uses the camera as one more tool to create a work of art. The camera is used to make an art piece that reveals the vision of the artist and makes a statement of that vision rather than documenting the subject before the lens.”

There are more, but for now, let just see these three in how they define fine art photography. In these three definitions, we can see some similar words and meanings.

So here I conclude in what they say about fine art photography:

  1. It’s a photographer’s vision
  2. It’s a concept or idea of a photographer
  3. It’s more than a visual documentary

Okay, that’s all I got. So those definitions talked about the three of these. Let’s explore one by one.

1. Photographer’s Vision

“Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”

I really like this quote. If you don’t know, this is a quote from the HBO TV series, Westworld. When I heard it, I tried to implement its meaning into photography. When one person can say one thing about a photo, another person can say the complete opposite about the same photo.

Vision, in this matter, isn’t what we see. But what we think about it from our perspective.
Simply put, “You call it junk, I call it art.” Something like that.

For example, some people see plastic bottles as junk. But a photographer can see a plastic bottle as an interesting subject where you can shoot in a lot of interesting ways.

Also Read: Defining Monochrome Photography



2. Concept or Idea of Photographer

When we talk about a concept or idea, we think about a plan to take a photograph. It includes creativity on how to make a photo that photographers want. But before all that, we must start from the beginning. It all begins with a reason why you want to take the photo in the first place.

“Why do I want to take a photograph?”

If you are just some dude with a camera, you probably think that you just want to shoot without thinking deeply about it. But if you are a fine art photographer, according to the definition, you have a deep reason, like to give a message through your photo.

Now you have a reason, you can begin being creative on the concept or idea of the photo.

Now let’s take the previous example. I want to make an environment cause message through a photo from a plastic bottle. I can make it look left at a nature site or something. Basically, the idea is to convey that message to the viewer.

3. More than Visual Documentary

It means that fine art photography is not just a photograph taken by a camera, but more. It means both in concept and in visual. And for that, I think we must look back a bit.

We want the photo to have a meaning. An idea implanted into a photo will make a total difference in photography. Gave that photography has a meaning and those who see it can empathize with it.

We also want our photos to look different or more. So we add something to the photo, visually. Like add something to the frame of the photo or photoshop it to make it look like what we imagine.

To conclude, I think that to make the photo more than a visual documentary is what the end result of photography gonna look like.


So to recap, we can see fine art photography as photography that is based on a concept or idea that gives a prospective vision for the photographer so, in the end, they can create a photograph that has more meaning than what it actually looks.

Also Read: Defining Long Exposure Photography


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