An introduction to fine art photography

Fine art photography is an artistic expression of a photographer’s vision captured on a two-dimensional medium. All photography is essentially captured on a two-dimensional medium, but the difference between a genre like fine art photography and commercial photography is distinct. In a genre like commercial photography, the photographer showcases a product or service with the purpose of sales, promotion, or any commercial venture in mind. Fine art photography has nothing of those agendas.

The pursuit of fine art photography does not have to be commissioned or commercially motivated. It’s driven mainly by the passion of the photographer. Fine art photography is an idea that the photographer conceives and then strives to accomplish that composition.

A genre that uses traditional approaches but isn’t part of the traditional art form

Fine art photography transgresses the boundaries of various genres. Fine art photography can include landscape photography, still life, portrait, and anything else that comes within the photography domain, but they do not have the traditional approach to photography. That’s why if fine art photography can include landscape and portrait photography, it does not include everyday portrait photography or travel snapshots as a part of fine art photography.

Fine art photography adheres to similar concepts and techniques used in other fine art mediums of expression, such as painting and sculpting.

Commercial vs. fine art photography

The main difference between commercial and fine art photography is the lack of commercial intent. As has been mentioned above, commercial photography is always having an intent for commercial gains. Such photography is mainly commissioned or solely aims to make money by selling an idea or product. In fine art photography, there is no such intent.

Different kinds of fine art photography

There are different kinds of fine art photography. Let’s take the example of portrait photography. Not every type of portrait photo is considered a fine art photograph. Commercial portrait photos are not regarded as fine art photos, such as when the photos are shot as business headshots or wedding portraits. On the other hand, if you look at the works of photographers like Marta Syrko, her portraits effuse this feeling of romanticism and ethereal, which is a queer combination that raises her photos to the level of fine art photography.

Then again, the works of photographer Carolyn Hampton showcases in monochrome the childhood dreams of every person. Her photos capture with consummate ease the thoughts, feelings, joys, and sadness of growing up that every adult can identify with. Such images easily rate as fine art portrait photography.

Still, life is another genre that offers many opportunities for shooting fine art photography. Still-life photography, by definition, is a genre that involves photographing inanimate objects arranged for a  meaningful composition.

Don’t confuse still-life photography with product photography. Though the approach is sometimes the same, the subjects can be the same. Product photography falls within the domain of commercial photography, whereas still life photography which is shot artistically, falls within the domain of fine art photography.

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