Fine Art Photography

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Fine Art Photography

Many of us would like to think that our carefully taken photographs are artistic and attractive, but would we consider them in the same league as a fine painting?

For a growing number, photography is seen as an art form, involving as much artistic creativity as oil or water colour painting.

Perhaps one of the better definitions is given by The Art and Architecture Thesaurus, which offers the following: “A term applied to photography in which the aim is aesthetic, as distinguished from scientific, commercial or journalistic.”

Can we consider such photography as an art form, comparable with the paintings and images produced by an artist labouring with paints and canvas? The answer is subjective with many considering that taking a photograph is much easier than producing a work of art using paint.

The advent of digital cameras has made it much easier for the average photographer to produce stunning images. Many modern-day cameras have built in exposure, automatic focusing and many more aids, requiring the photographer simply to point and shoot.

But devotees of fine art photography point out that just as in painting, the creator of the photograph needs to be able to bring out the emotion and essence of his subject. Composition, the use of highlights and shades are equally important in a photograph as in a painting.
Indeed, photography, through the camera itself, brings a barrier between the artist and the finished result, requiring the photographer to have not only artistic skills, but also scientific qualities to be able to master the technical aspects of the process.

It is just this blending of scientific and artistic skills which, to this author at least, raises fine art photography to a level approaching an art form. And it seems as if I am not alone.

Just as with fine paintings, there is a rapidly growing market for fine art photographs, particularly those produced by major artistic photographers as the American Ansel Adams and the Australian Max Dupain. Adams produced many fine prints of natural landscapes depicting the landscape of the American west, particularly Yosemite Park, and was the founder of the group known as f64, credited with creating the department of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Dupain is well known for his iconic Sunbaker photograph, which was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

So, can fine art photography take its place with other creative art forms? While many artists argue that photography is simply a mechanical reproduction of an image, photographers can rightly claim that they are equally adept as painters, using light as their medium rather than oils or water colours.

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