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Fine art defined. . .
Old 04-16-2006, 06:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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For me the term “fine art” is used too loosely. Fine Art by definition is a manipulation of reality, or a depiction of reality that formats the subject in a way that meets certain criteria.
The difference between Photography and the other forms of art is that Photography does not have the luxury of total control over the various elements of the image. In other words in photography what you see is what you get. Sometimes we can control the lighting and sometimes we can control the framing, and most of the time we can control the posing of the main subject, but usually not all three. While the media artists control everything up to and including the size, shape, and color of the subject, we as photographers have to pay closer attention everything we can control to be able to meet the criteria of Fine Art. Photo manipulation programs now enable the photographer to approach the other media artist.
For a photograph to qualify as fine art it should meet certain qualifications. I realize these qualifications may not be for everyone but here are mine.
Does the image meet a high level of composition?
Composition is defined as having the various elements of the image performing the task of drawing the viewer’s eye to the desired subject. This can be performed through the use of Color and/or Tonality, but more often in photography through the use of design elements such as posing and/or framing.
(Here is a URL to an art site that discusses composition and I think most of the subject matter is just as valid for photography: )
Does the image possess quality light for the subject matter?
Does the image display proper attention to detail?
Does the environment enhance or detract from the subject? I'm talking about distracting backgrounds, hot spots, And/or bad lighting etc. etc.
Assuming the subject is Human does the pose allow the eye to flow to center of interest. (Usually but not necessarily the face.) Is the subject disconnected sufficiently from the viewer?
While not necessary, eye contact makes such a disconnect difficult. The object of fine art is not to create an emotional connect with the subject so much as it is with the image itself. Note that on Peter Gowland’s page of salon images only 5 of 46 images portray the subject looking into the camera. It's no accident that these images were selected as salon prints.
(Be warned there are depictions of truly artistic nudity on this page)
Too often a photographer seems to think that if an image is in B&W it is fine art. True the fine artist will often use B&W as a method of control over the image eliminating color as a distracting element of composition. Further the Fine Art Photographer will use other methods of controlling the environment even to the point of reducing the image to a presentation of little more than form and light. Thus the image has little to distract the viewer from the subject. Now the photo-artist only has to worry about form and light, posing and drapery and the quality of the light.
It doesn't matter how fine the subject is, it doesn't matter how sublime the enviorns are, it doesn't matter how exquisite the lighting maybe, it isn't fine art until all are placed on the image in the proper place and proportion. It doesn’t become Fine Art until most if not all of the elements of the image are esthetically met. Okay I realize there are differing points of view on esthetics but general speaking if you explain why something is pleasing, it probably is.
Paranoia does not preclude persecution.
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