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There are several different types of photography: photojournalism, product/still, fashion, portrait/family, travel, street, architecture, landscape, nature, macro, abstract, minimalist, etc, etc…and there is Fine Art photography. Fine Art photography can be any of the types of photography, but at the same time, is none of them. What makes Fine Art photography different then?
The difference relies on the justification, the origin of the photograph. A photojournalist, when takes a photo, his goal is to register a historic moment; a fashion photographer needs to show case the clothes, accessories or whatever it is that he wants to expose; a travel photographer needs to illustrate his stories about the places he visits; a nature photographer wants to show the nature of all places in the world to the rest of the world; and so it is every type of photographer that takes his photos with his goal in mind. The pattern is that the focus is on the subject being exposed, because the subject is the key.
The Fine Art photographer works with any kind of subject, because the subject is not the key, it is just a tool. The focus in Fine Art photography is in the photographer’s motivations, in what he wants to transmit with that photo. It is the photographer’s justifications that validates the Fine Art photography.
And what about some photojournalist photographers that sells their work as Fine Art or some museums that already have fashion photography in their collections? It doesn’t matter, because as I said before, the subject of the photography is not the focus, what matters is the photographers intentions, his style, his work. It is the photographer that justify the Fine Art photography.
That’s it then, if the photographer says that “this photo is Fine Art” then said photo is Fine Art photography? Essentially, yes, but as in any other type of photography, or any other aspect of life, there are all kinds of Fine Art photography. It is not just because it is “Fine Art”, that it is “Fine”.
There are also, other aspects as well, for example the longevity of the photo that legitimates the work of the photographer as Fine Art photography. It doesn’t do to have a Fine Art photography that will fade away in 5-10 years. Fine Art photography must be par with Fine Arts in general, that means to last for hundreds of years.
It is the recent advent of ultra fine printing technics using mineral pigment based ink with cotton based papers that allowed Fine Art photography to be produced in conditions that will create pieces of art work that will last for hundreds of years. And this is why everybody has been so excited about Fine Art photography. Fine Art photography is now in the same standings of all other Fine Arts. Technically speaking at least, now we just need to wait a couple of hundred years to have our own old masterpieces as well. 🙂