OT- Fine Art photography?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Martin Francis, May 23, 2004.

  1. Putting my site together at the moment, and so far i'm having a little
    trouble categorising my work- specifically, terming anything i've done as
    fine art.

    A quick Google suggests "Fine Art" photography is B&W nudes- or just B&W in
    general. Anyone have a more useful definition?
    Martin Francis, May 23, 2004
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  2. Ummm... how about a rule of thumb?

    "Fine arts" is a term that defines the paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc.
    of recognized masters of a medium. Whatever subject matter they address,
    when addressed likewise by photographers should therefore be considered as
    "fine art", or so it would seem reasonable, I think.

    Now, "fine art photography" has no doubt been defined by various and sundry
    "art experts" and "art critics" (they're professionals: they get paid...),
    but unless there is a general agreement, I suspect you're free to create
    your own. It's probably fair to take into account decisions that are
    supported with valid arguments, but that still casts nothing in stone.

    Perhaps you can think about it, and put your conclusions as to the
    definition of "fine arts" above the fold on the first page of your site.
    Just a thought.


    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, May 24, 2004
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  3. Martin Francis

    Patrick L. Guest

    Just be artistic.

    Pour a bag of sand on a floor, take a picture of it with a Holga, and
    voila, you got art!


    Patrick L., May 24, 2004
  4. Martin Francis

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: OT- Fine Art photography?
    That's not art, that's a mess, mister. Now clean it up! The Pidgeon sisters are
    visiting us soon and I don't want the apartment to look like the Normandy

    Felix (I may be dead but at least I know the difference between a Holga and a
    Lewis Lang, May 24, 2004
  5. Martin Francis

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: OT- Fine Art photography?
    Hi Martin:

    I'm not sure how or why a definition of "Fine Art" will help you present your
    work -- it either is fine art or it isn't.

    Was it done with artistic intentions and/or does it have qualities that go
    beyond mere utilitarian decoration or beyond mere recording of the facts? Does
    it say something meaningful and/or powerful? Does it make you think, feel,
    about the subject beyond its mere surface qualities? Then, good or bad, its
    fine art. It matters little how you categorize the work (according to media,
    style, subject matter, whatever), it either is fine art or it isn't. Fine art
    is not merely a subject or a style, its a vision -- an outlook on
    life(/you/society/etc.). Like class, you usually know it when you see it... or
    make it.
    Lewis Lang, May 24, 2004
  6. NO photography of ANY kind is 'Fine Art'. ALL 'Fine Art' is made BY
    HAND (paintings, sculptures, etc.).

    Call it 'Personal Work', but UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES call it 'Fine
    Michael Scarpitti, May 24, 2004
  7. Martin Francis

    Tom Thackrey Guest


    Photography has been accepted as 'fine art' by museums, galleries, critics,
    and collectors for more than 50 years.

    Can you name a museum of fine arts that doesn't have photography in its

    Can you cite a dictionary or encyclopedia which does not list photography as
    a fine art?

    Can you cite a reference (other than yourself) that defines fine art as
    'made by hand'?
    Tom Thackrey, May 24, 2004
  8. That doesn't make it 'fine art'. It merely provides a place to see
    'photography'. Most call it 'art and photography'.
    Of course.
    Of course.
    Michael Scarpitti, May 24, 2004
  9. Martin Francis

    jimkramer Guest

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Fine Art

    Basically any photograph taken for artistic rather than documentary

    I would argue with Michael that made by hand would include photography as a
    human hand is usually what trips the shutter. If he doesn't want to be
    labeled as an artist that's fine. Myself, 95% of what I take is strictly
    documentary the other 5% might be art or it might be garbage, depends on my
    mood and the phase of the moon.

    Jim Kramer
    jimkramer, May 24, 2004
  10. Martin Francis

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: OT- Fine Art photography?
    Some documentary photography (Atget comes to mind, so does the childhood
    documentary work of Lartique of his family/etc. in the Belle Epoque era/early
    2oth century), whether intended as art or merely as record keeping is fine art
    as well -- it depends on its aesthetic, intellectual and other qualities
    inherent in the work, whether intended or not, not the mode it was shot in
    (documentary, commercial, personal work, etc.) whether a piece or a group of
    pictures/work should be considered fine art or not.

    Some of Rembrandt's best work, certainly a writier with light, if not with a
    camera, was done as "commercial work" yet you see no museum shunning his work
    because of it. He was a master and his work was fine art regardless of whether
    it was a self-portrait done for himself or a commission of a group (Drapiers of
    the Syndic's Guild/whatever its called) paid for by others.

    Fine art refers to the qualities of the work not the subject or mode!!! :).
    Lewis Lang, May 24, 2004
  11. Martin Francis

    Tom Thackrey Guest

    Then do so. Your inability/unwillingness to substantiate your opinions makes
    them less than compelling.
    Tom Thackrey, May 24, 2004
  12. I don't think there *is* a firm definition for "fine art", and in
    fact "art" still seems to be pretty much up for grabs.

    You might want to define it as something demonstrating one of the
    classifications of the art world: Impressionism, Post-Modernism, blah de
    blah de blah. These lines can and usually are fudged by a significant
    amount, so you can get away with a lot. But I would suggest your "fine art"
    images be at least a) well-liked, or b) striking, to a majority of viewers.
    This isn't a necessity, but saves you the potential of being labeled as
    self-absorbed when you call something "fine art" that most others would
    classify as "crap" ;-)

    From my own standpoint as a nature photog (which some would consider
    its own classification outside of all others), I consider something "art"
    when it can be used in a variety of ways, and especially when it can also
    be used to demonstrate multiple factors of composition. On my site, the
    images I use for the headers of most of my galleries are what I consider
    "art", as opposed to other images which are intended more as portraiture or
    identification purposes. http://wading-in.net/page96-SalesBio.html and
    http://wading-in.net/page100-Commercial.html are among my favorites (the
    latter needs cleaning).

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, May 24, 2004

  13. Now Tom, Mikey has spoken. You're being ungracious if you doubt his
    pronouncements. Bask I say, bask in the wisdom he has deigned to impart!

    [Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee!]

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, May 24, 2004
  14. Martin Francis

    Tom Thackrey Guest

    Sorry Al, you're right. I should know better than to take him seriously.
    Tom Thackrey, May 24, 2004
  15. Martin Francis

    jimkramer Guest

    I'm gon'na respectfully (I think) disagree.

    I'm more than willing to let the photographer/artist decide if he/she deems
    the work done as fine art or not. I see in museums much "art" passed as
    "fine art" and I don't care for the subject/model/mode; i.e. It may be fine
    art for someone, but I'm not willing to display it in my house.

    You would be really hard pressed to convince me that an image of a seared,
    charred and split open human corpse in the trunk of a mostly burned out four
    door sedan in the middle of a wooded lot is fine art. Likewise, the splatter
    pattern of blood, brains and wisps of hair stuck to the side of a tractor
    trailer after someone under rode the trailer is not fine art. The same skill
    and attention documenting a dragonfly perched on a cattail above a perfectly
    smooth pond backlit by a cherry red sunrise might be fine art; or it might
    just be a snapshot. Or is it all simply the hidden meanings and open context
    implicit in anything we would call "art" fine or otherwise?

    In reality "fine art" is a catch phrase; it's fine if you like it and art if
    you don't.

    Now what the hell do I do with this soap box? Anybody what to stand on it?
    I think one of the boards is loose; be careful.

    Jim Kramer
    jimkramer, May 24, 2004
  16. Martin Francis

    Alan Browne Guest

    It seems to be a matter of aesthetic and presentation, the subject is
    not terribly relevant.

    I don't believe it needs to be limited to B&W, and certainly not to nudes.

    Is it possible to do a fine art photograph of a homeless alcoholic in
    the grimiest section of the city? Why not?

    Could a boxing photo be fine art? Why not...


    Fine art photos seem to put an emphasis on static compositions (not
    Detail. Contrast. Simplicity. Simple lighting (or appears so).
    Lines, curves. Any damned subject.

    The recorded image lends itslelf to high quality printing and
    presentation. Various presentations I have seen over the last year, in
    color (printed from chromes) were definitely fine art and in color.

    Cynically, if one puts on a show and calls it "fine art photography"
    then it is. Or if you put a portfolio together and name a section of it
    as fine art ... then so it is. The market will decide if you're right
    or wrong.

    The dictionary does not help us much:

    One entry found for fine art.
    Main Entry: fine art
    Function: noun
    1 a : art (as painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with
    the creation of beautiful objects -- usually used in plural b : objects
    of fine art
    2 : an activity requiring a fine skill

    Alan Browne, May 24, 2004
  17. Martin Francis

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Fine Art is a college degree - to distinguish it from Commercial
    Art -- another college degree. IT is an oxymoron, and quite frankly usually
    indicates a bad case of pretension. Stick with Art - it was good enough for
    Van Gogh, and Picasso, it should be good enough for you.
    Tony Spadaro, May 24, 2004
  18. Martin Francis

    TP Guest

    I think it is easier to define "Fine Art" photography by stating what
    it *isn't*.

    It *isn't* work in one of the well-defined genres of photography such
    as travel, sports, photojournalism, nature, landscape, social,
    architectural, product, fashion, etc. ...

    "Fine Art" photography serves no particular purpose other than to
    provide an expression of beauty, or perhaps of ugliness.

    For example, rather than using composition to good effect to
    illustrate a newspaper article, or to portray a person, animal or
    plant, a fine art shot might use composition purely to convey to the
    viewer an impression of beauty ... of art. Any connection with one or
    more of the better-defined genres of photography is incidental to
    expressing beauty - or ugliness.

    So if you have any work that doesn't fit the major genres, and has a
    certain beauty all of its own, that's what you should put in the "Fine
    Art" category of your web site.


    You didn't say, but I assume this is part of your work for your Uni
    finals, or an online portfolio to help you find work. Whatever, I
    wish you all the very best.

    TP, May 24, 2004
  19. Martin Francis

    Alan Browne Guest

    How so wonderdog? Prove it. Cite sources and links.
    Alan Browne, May 24, 2004
  20. Please do so, then.

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, May 24, 2004
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