Fine art photography has been defined by how collectable the photographs are or become. Are the images enduring enough to stand the test of time. For some the ultimate goal is to have their images preserved in museums and art collections, or in the possession of collectors. What makes an image collectable varies widely from the image or content, process, photographer and historical significance. Many collectable photographs are indeed not fine art. In discussions with a gallery owner, one of the key ingredients of a collectable photograph was its rarity (ie limited print run, by edition or death).
Tightly aligned with collecting is the expectation that fine art photography can survive time, long term storage and display. Though this alone does not guarantee that the image is indeed fine art. Many photographs that have been actively collected (bought and sold for high prices) may not indeed be archival, but it does seem to be of primary importance to modern photographic collectors.
Art for arts sake
Because I enjoy taking photographs against my own criteria for what a great photograph is. It is the reason I study other photographers’ (and artists’) work with such passion. To observe, to copy (for the purpose of learning) and then to produce something that is indeed different. Finding ones own personal vision in a world of appropriation has become a life long passion.
My passions for the Gaia (mother earth) and deep felt desire to stop humanities abuse of her lie beneath my wilderness (landscape) photographs. If Dombroskis’s photograph of Island Bend can educate and influence a voting public into saving the Franklin River (Tasmania), then there is hope in nature photography to be able to influence the world to move towards an environmentally sustainable future. Art by its very nature is about the communication of ideas, principles, thoughts, feelings and passions. When you look at one of my photographs you are indeed looking through Len’s lens, my interpretation of the world and what I see.
My goal is to produce an aesthetically pleasing photograph without copying those who have gone before. When you look at a photograph and you get that wonderful feeling inside, because of its inherent beauty, then it must be fine art. Not to say that all fine art makes you feel good.
Made by an artist
What makes an artist? Creativity as expressed in an artwork… is perhaps one of the only clearly defining links between artists.
Sold as art
Recently I have started to wonder if the ongoing sales and popularity of particular images, some just seem to keep on selling, are really fine art images. Some of my most outstanding fine art photographs (measured against my own criteria) have never sold. Sales is a worthless criteria if you are to judge fine art by what history has demonstrated with very few artists gaining success in their own lifetimes, though since modernism this no longer appears to be the case.
“Essentially the distinction between ‘art’, ‘craft’ and ‘APPLIED ART’. The modern notion of ‘fine art’ can be traced back to the Renaissance when ther was a strong movement, led by Leonardo da Vinci, to demonstrate that the painter in particular was practicing an intellectual and not a manual skill. Included under this heading are drawing; music; painting; poetry; printmaking; sculpture; (photography ed) and other forms of art which do not fulfil a practical function.”
- Reynolds, K & Seddon, R 1981 ‘Illustrated dictionary of art terms; a handbook for the art lover’; Edbury Press, London
Fine art photography
“…the term is taken to be a picture that is produced for sale or display rather than one that is produced in response to a commercial commission. It is assumed that most of the pictures that are covered by the fine art banner are personal images that meet self-imposed criteria, and that they are, as a result, very close to the heart of the photographer and are representative of his or her interpretation of the world.”
- Hope, T. 2003 Fine Art Photography, creating beautiful images for sale and display; RotoVision SA, Switzerland