What Is Fine Art Photography And How To Do It ?

1. What Makes Fine Art Photography Distinct ?

Fine art photography raises an age-old question: “What is art?” It’s a complicated question, and the answer is dependent on the artist’s intent. The approach an artist takes when creating their work distinguishes fine art. Photography used as a deliberate artistic medium, used to advance a conceptual idea, according to professor and photographer Ariel Wilson’s explanation. Fine art photographs have a distinct aesthetic quality from snapshots taken with a camera quickly on the fly.

Photographer and professor Adam Long explains that fine art photography is distinct from photojournalism and commercial photography because “fine art is an individual’s pursuit of a certain interest that is not commissioned or propelled by an external influence.” Commercial photography has a specific goal in mind: to highlight a product and drive sales. Photojournalism, as well as some forms of documentary photography, are concerned with capturing the truth of the subject matter or scene being photographed and do so with as little bias as possible. Art has a conceptual difference from other forms of expression.

2. A General Breakdown Of Fine Art Photography

2.1 Fine Art Portraiture


The majority of portrait shoots necessitate some forethought and ingenuity. However, creative planning is focused on the model’s identity in documentary-style portraits. Instead of creating new ideas and artwork, you’re attempting to draw attention to the personality of the person you’re writing about.

When it comes to fine art portraiture, the polarity is flipped. In the end, it’s your ideas that matter, not the model’s appearance. Take a look at Patty Maher’s series of ‘faceless portraits.’ They serve as an excellent illustration of the significance of the photographer’s vision in fine art photography.

Fashion photography is one area where this emphasis on art is most evident, as the personalities of the models are frequently disregarded in favor of the overall concept of the shoot. Fashion photography tends to cross over into fine art photography unless the focus is solely on the clothing and accessories. See for yourself if you look through a few high-end fashion magazines!

2.2 Conceptual Photography

Photographic conceptualism is inherently a form of fine art. Thus, the two are frequently misunderstood and even used interchangeably. Even though conceptual photography falls under the umbrella of fine art, not all fine art falls under this category.

Fine art portraits may have similarities to conceptual pictures. The main difference between a conceptual portrait and a fine art portrait is that the former represents a particular idea, such as fear or curiosity, while the latter may not.

2.3 Still Life Photography

Another genre where there is a lot of overlap between fine art and documentary photography is still life photography. There’s a distinction here between taking a picture for fun and taking a picture that conveys something meaningful. Is the subject of the still life photo special to you and you want to share it with others? Or are you creating art while experimenting with a new idea or technique?

Instagram, for example, has a plethora of food photos, but the vast majority are candid and spontaneous. They display a special place, dish, or moment in time that the photographer wished to preserve and share.

The photographer’s imagination is clearly visible in fine art food photography, in contrast. Not a memory, but something the photographer deliberated on and then skillfully executed.

2.4 Fine Art Landscape & Nature Photography

Some fine art photographers do better in a controlled environment like a studio. Others do better in environments where they don’t have complete control, such as wild landscapes. Then, rather than inventing a scene from scratch, they inject their creativity and sense of style into an existing one. Look no further than the work of Claire Droppert to see this in action.

Since image editors allow photographers to easily alter the appearance of a scene, fine art nature and landscape photography has grown in popularity. However, an image editor is not required to create fine art. Photographing nature in other ways can yield striking fine art images as well.

You can, for example, develop a series of images based on a central concept, find a unique perspective, or use in-camera techniques. To become a fine art photographer, you don’t have to know how to use post-processing.

2.5 Fine Art Architectural Photography

Architecture, like landscapes, is something you can’t work on in your studio. You need to get out there and explore different perspectives in order to find your own personal style. As a result, you’ll be able to convey an imaginative take on architecture that alters the way people perceive ordinary structures.

You can develop ideas and then communicate them visually using architecture as well. Fine art photographer Sharon Tenenbaum, for example, has shifted her focus away from celebrating architectural form and toward examining how people interact with their built environment.

2.6 Fine Art Photojournalism / Street Photography

Photojournalism and street photography, at first glance, appear to be purely documentary genres. Documentary photography, after all, is concerned with capturing reality and sharing it with others so that it can be remembered. Isn’t that what photojournalism is all about anyway?

Yes, but only on occasion. The 1960s and 1970s saw the emergence of a new motivation for photojournalists, as they began to draw inspiration from art photographers. These days, photojournalists are more likely to be concerned with the artistic and emotional impact of their images rather than just the facts. They hope to tell stories visually that arouse the emotions of the audience.

Research for Effect

This emotional tale is almost never the result of a random event. Successful photojournalists conduct extensive pre-production research before diving into a story or concept. They then appear on the scene with this preconceived notion in mind.

Photographers who work spontaneously, allowing their surroundings to inspire them, can still have a viewpoint they’re attempting to convey in their work, however. Take, for instance, street photographer Ilan Ben Yehuda’s images of Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox community. They are composed to tell stories with humor, irony, and surreality despite their spontaneity. They’re therefore closer to fine art photography than documentary photography.

3. What Makes Great Fine Art Photographs

Despite the fact that art is highly subjective, the same principles that make a successful commercial or product photo also apply to photographs intended for fine art exhibitions. “Compelling content that pulls the viewer in, really good composition, and beautiful light,” says photographer and teacher Tina Tryforos.

Photographer and professor Ariel Wilson says, “Great fine art photos often have three things.” ‘They have a visual appeal, are well-made, and have some level of conceptual engagement,’ says Jeremy. To create fine art photos, you need to be able to take an ordinary photo and turn it into something extraordinary.

The Role Of Post-Processing

You don’t have to use a camera that’s picture-perfect to get the best results. Using tools like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom for post-processing can help you transform and improve your photo. When it comes to photos and digital art, “Use any means necessary to get your point across” applies. Everything is a work of art.

4. Tips For Fine Art Beginners

4.1 Learn Your Tools

Fine art photography requires knowledge of the tools at your disposal. Learn the ins and outs of your camera and experiment with the various settings. Focal lengthaperture, and shutter speed can all be used to your advantage when you have a thorough understanding of them.

4.2 Change Your Perspective

See how many different perspectives and visuals you can create by taking 100 photographs of the same mundane object. You’ll learn a lot about your tools and end up with five really interesting images, even if 95% of them are useless. Consider taking some black-and-white photos if you’re used to shooting in color. You can discover new perspectives and elevate your ideas by experimenting with different ways of creating photos.

4.3 Master The Art Of Composition

When you have a firm grasp on compositional principles like the rule of thirds, you can go against the grain to express your ideas more effectively. When you’re next doing a photoshoot, make sure to take a few extra shots from unusual or amusing perspectives. You can discover new ways to focus or communicate ideas by comparing images that adhere to or defy standard composition rules.

4.4 Focus On Your Interests

Artwork of the highest quality is created when artists delve deeply into a subject about which they are deeply interested. According to Wilson, “fine art photos can acknowledge the politics of representation and materiality.”. It’s up to you, as the artist, to decide what ideas you want to pursue and explore, but it’s much easier to produce meaningful work when those ideas are important to you, personally.

5. Your Artist Statement

Finally, you’ll need to draft a biographical statement about yourself as an artist. It should be written in what’s known as “artspeak,” or jargon specific to the visual arts. It must have a pleasing acoustic quality. If you’re submitting work to galleries, your artist statement is just as important as your artwork in their eyes.


It’s important that the project is about you and your interests. Put yourself first and don’t give a damn what others think. Your statement should come naturally if you have a clear idea of your vision, your subject, and the process you want to use to create your work.

There’s a good chance you’re not creating fine art photographs if all you’re doing is taking beautiful pictures. Fine art, on the other hand, is more likely to be created if you have a message or vision that you want to convey through your work. Maybe you should reevaluate your goals for your career. It is also acceptable to simply take pictures for the sake of it.

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