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The lounge Relax, take a break from photo and camera talk - have a chat about something else for a change. Just keep it clean and polite!

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  #16  
Old 17th February 2008
Xpres
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Great thread - My 2p - If someone other than the artist is willing to pay good money, call it Art and put it on his wall - then Art it is. Fine Art even. Although trying to make the distinction between the fine and the dross as one might distinguish fine wine or fine food from the rest, is impossible. It's still Art, if that's what you want to call it.
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  #17  
Old 17th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

I do not want to tread on toes here, but I believe fine art is done by a painter or a sculpter who works with pencils, charcoal, paints and granite. Photography is another type of skill and I am not taking anything away from the photographer as he or she are able to take a photograph that is pleasing to the eye. But at the end of the day the photograph is a print of an image taken with a devise the Camera.

This is what I beleive but please pull me up if you feel I am wrong.
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  #18  
Old 17th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

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Originally Posted by shenstone View Post
I agree, but the trouble is that it can be emperors New Clothes and it just takes a load of people to be too scared to say how ineffectual & irrelevant it can be.

Sometimes the one honest opinion should outweigh the mutual backslapping

Regards
Andy
Oh yes Andy - I totally agree with you. I think the Emin/Hirst lobby are Emperor's New Clothesists - but at least today in 2008 my view matters nought against the many who support the concept.

There's maybe two types of 'Art' - the personal and the public. You can like something which puts it into the former category - but for it to be legitimized - written up etc - it needs a movement -whether we think that's real or shallow. Of course it changes over time. What is hailed as Art today need not last the test of time.

Same in popular culture. Should we call it Spice Girls syndrome - remember when they could do NO wrong! But now.......... they had to cancel the end of their much vaunted world tour for lack of interest!! Same talentless bimbos - different result.
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  #19  
Old 17th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

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Originally Posted by E-1 fan View Post
Oh yes Andy - I totally agree with you. I think the Emin/Hirst lobby are Emperor's New Clothesists - but at least today in 2008 my view matters nought against the many who support the concept.

There's maybe two types of 'Art' - the personal and the public. You can like something which puts it into the former category - but for it to be legitimized - written up etc - it needs a movement -whether we think that's real or shallow. Of course it changes over time. What is hailed as Art today need not last the test of time.

Same in popular culture. Should we call it Spice Girls syndrome - remember when they could do NO wrong! But now.......... they had to cancel the end of their much vaunted world tour for lack of interest!! Same talentless bimbos - different result.

RE your last point - Maybe , but you gotta admit that they are more photogenic than some ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tracey_Emin_1.jpg

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Andy
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  #20  
Old 17th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

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Originally Posted by Meogeo View Post
But at the end of the day the photograph is a print of an image taken with a devise the Camera.
A photograph is just a means for someone to show someone else something they have seen - to communicate. A fine photograph may be communicating a fine thing or perhaps the print is a fine print produced by an artisan and agonised over for days. Does that make it fine art?
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  #21  
Old 17th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Thanks everyone for your comments and opinions so far. I'm a little wiser as to how to define "fine art photography," but it seems to me it's always going to be difficult to quantify whether or not a specific picture, or even type or style of picture, qualifies for the label. Nevertheless, it is clear that if you become accepted as a "fine art" photographer, then you can command some rather lucrative fees for print sales. With that in mind, it would be useful for any photographer to get a little closer to the holy grail of realising exactly what constitutes "fine art."

Some of the posts on this thread have at least given me ideas for further research. I started with the Wikipedia definition:-

Fine art photography
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Fine art photography, sometimes simply called art photography, refers to photographs that are created to fulfill the creative vision of the artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography, the latter's main focus being to sell a product or service. In the 19th and 20th century, prints were usually done in limited editions to inflate their value to dealers, and collectors.


An artist doing fine art photography is creating photographs primarily to satisfy their own vision and creative intent. The final creative reason for a fine art photograph is the photograph itself. It is not a means to another end except perhaps to please those besides the photographer who behold it. Fine art photography can be used to promote something. They are created most importantly to be true to the artistís vision of beauty. We can see this by looking at Ansel Adams' work of Yosemite and Yellowstone. He is one of the least disputed fine art photographers of the 20th century and these images were done while he was trying to raise public awareness of these two locations and to have them protected.


Well, there's a few interesting phrases in that definition:-

creating photographs primarily to satisfy own vision and creative intent

It is not a means to another end except perhaps to please those besides the photographer who behold it

created most importantly to be true to the artistís vision of beauty

Hmmm, I can honestly say those three statements apply to a photograph I took earlier today. So does it qualify as fine art?


Before reading that definition I would not have been so presumptious. Maybe I am entitled to claim that label for my photograph. But even if I accept that I have created a work of fine art, the burning question remains, "is it good fine art?

It seems this topic needs even deeper exploration if we are to get close to an answer.........my research will continue, hopefully with your help.

Zuiko
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  #22  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Zuiko

I don't know, there is enough technical perfection to give the eye clear context (something I felt Pants lacked), but enough blown light to make the mind and eye ask questions.

A fine photograph - without doubt, art - unquestionably.

Fine Art, well you've given it to me for free, so it probably doesn't qualify. But maybe blown up and framed it would be better valued,

Nick
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  #23  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

I'm really glad this thread's generating interest and taking off. For me, the crux of the matter when it comes to pinning a definition on art lies in its uniqueness. "The artist is always beginning," Ezra Pound once wrote. "Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth." Pound's philosophy on art could be summarized in three words: 'Make it new'. Following this train of thought, any portfolio of photographs that are, to all intents and purposes, identical to images that have been taken before are not art. Even if a photographer is adept at copying the style of his favourite influence, it isn't art. Why? Because it's already been done.

There's a relationship, therefore, between contemporary art and the art that has come before it. Pound, as I understand him, seemed more interested in the newness of true art, but his friend TS Eliot became particularly interested in new art's relationship to tradition.

TS Eliot's essay, 'Tradition and the Individual Talent' (1919) seems to me to be a pretty useful touchstone for any discussion about art. You can read more about it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditi...ividual_Talent

Like Pound, Eliot's focus in primarily on poetry but I think his ideas are equally applicable to visual arts too.

In a nutshell, Eliot asserts that each work of art exists in relation to everything that has come before it and that the best artists have both a keen understanding of the historical origins of their creative ideas *and* a clear eye on the present. In creating a new work of art, the artist adds to that tradition and, in adding to it - because they are of the present - changes the tradition as a whole. The new art changes how we perceive the old art. It gives it a new inflection and it becomes, itself, art for future artists to respond to.

From a practical point of view, I (provisionally) suggest that we could say a photograph, regardless of its technical merits, might fail as a work of art:

1.) If we felt we'd seen something overly similar before. Perhaps, in this scenario, the artist would be duplicating something that'd already been done without adding their contribution of the present. An example of this might be a photograph of a group of tourists in front of a tourist attraction, smiling. We recognize it instantly and so it fails to be aesthetically interesting.

2.) If we felt that the vision conveyed in the work of art we viewed was one that had been done and done better elsewhere. In this case, the photographer would be failing as an artist in not acknowledging the tradition that they were attempting to participate in.

3.) If we felt that the work of art was completely off-the-wall and completely divorced from anything that had come before it, in which case we'd have every right to be baffled. Some contemporary art gets unfairly scoffed at because its viewers have no idea where it's coming from (Hirst's portion of cow is a fine case in point) or because it's easily replicated (and its viewers forget that the artistic value of art lies in its newness rather than its execution).

In my mind, fine art is art that makes those great changes to artistic tradition. Of course, fine art is not an abstract idea - but one ruled by the material world, in which gallery owners, museums collectors, and the like are constantly trying to anticipate (and promote) the work they think will go down in history as art that made a significant change. Presumably, there'll be mistakes made from time to time (Emperor's New Clothes syndrome) but only because the art world quests for those ever-elusive works that, when seen, are nothing less than earth-shattering.
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  #24  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Quote:
but only because the art world quests for those ever-elusive works that, when seen, are nothing less than earth-shattering.
Well, there you have it! What a splintered world we have to look forward to.


This is a great thread/discussion. I'm looking forward to a few more. If only internet forums had existed when I was a student, things must be so different now. But then I think I'd miss the bar.
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  #25  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Of course we shouldn't forget5 that the Art World - be that the photographic side or not - is fuelled by money. What is 'making' money - who is on the 'up' - who is 'worth buying' - just like stocks and shares.

On the recent Picture This series the gallery owner judge said quite clearly that he was looking not just for a really goodphotographer but one who was commercial at the highest levels and who could deliver to the standard his market wanted - again and again and again - like a little production line.

In the end therefore is high or fine art simply - what is selling at the upper end of the market- and is therefore driven and nourished by a very small group of very wealthy buyers - with the many thousands of slightly less wealthy (but still wealthy to us) - who aspire to being a member of that top group eventually - following the leads and trends set by the current top 0.05%??

Is it just - what will make MORE money for the rich patron than something else?
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  #26  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

I think two things define some photography as 'art photography'.

First is the intention of the photographer – does the work have a meaning beyond just depicting what something looks like.

Second is context – if the work is hung on a gallery wall, then it's art.
I think Marcel Duchamp and a urinal proved this around 1917.

To me, 'fine art' as a term applied to photography suggests a high level of craftsmanship.

And as I always lament at times like this – why didn't I buy any Bill Brandt prints in the 1980s?
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  #27  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Definitely there's a relationship between art and money. Some think of it as a bad thing:

http://nymag.com/arts/art/season2007/38981/

But the truth is that there's always been money behind the scenes, pushing artists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage

I'm sure there's lots of imitation when it comes to the top 0.05% who make it big in the art market. But, then, that imitation would presumably fail wouldn't it? If I want to buy a cow in a box, I'd want it to be a Hirst cow. I'd want it to be *that* Hirst cow, not some art student knock-off. Alternatively, once an idea had been duplicated enough, it would, by definition, no longer be the best new thing, and attention would turn to what is new.

I'm glad some posters mentioned sculpture and painting. Photography's played second fiddle to those arts for a long while now but given the buzz of activity in the auction houses these past ten years over photographs, surely photography is maturing nicely as a well-respected form of fine art:

http://www.artcritical.com/appel/BAFall2005.htm
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  #28  
Old 18th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

HP - you're a good tog - what's your personal definition of Fine Art Photography.
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  #29  
Old 19th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

Thank you to everyone who has so far contributed to make this a very thought provoking thread. The question of "fine art," as opposed to just "art" and its relationship to photography is obviously complex and open to many interpretations, definitions and shades of opinion.

Hiding Pup has provided enough links already to keep me busy for some considerable time, if I am to explore them fully, and everyone seems to have slightly different views, all of them valid, on the relationship between art and photography.

Nick was quite kind in his response to my snowdrops image posted yesterday; I wonder if there is an air of caution following "Pants." For what it's worth, my own opinion (which is naturally highly subjective) is that I am extremely pleased with it and I got quite a buzz when I saw the result. But, and this is a big but, I don't think it has that seemingly indefinable quality of fine art and for me to suggest otherwise was slightly presumptious. Sure, in the context of the Wikipedia definition it ticked most boxes but in truth it's not innovative, I'm sure we've all seen similar, and better, examples before.

But is that the only reason to preclude it as fine art? I've been looking at the gallery of Xpres as a particular photograph was mentioned earlier in this thread and I must say I've seen rather similar images before. But, City Snap does have, for me at least, a certain indefinable quality, maybe a sense of completeness and an air of confidence in the way it takes ownership of this style that I believe could qualify it as fine art.

Maybe style, which in photography is rather easier to recognise than to define (or so it seems to me), is the key, or at least one of several keys, to determining where to hang that elusive label of fine art. In fact, I think that Xpres has several other images in his gallery that could meet the criteria, namely Pier, Watch Out and Testing the Water. I would be interested if any one else has a view on this. Xpres, I hope you don't mind me using your images as examples, but are you able to share your thoughts on this with us? Had you considered your work in this context?

In some posts the relationship between fine art and money has been mentioned, which is a bit of a paradox in the context of the Wikipedia definition suggesting that fine art is the result of a noble desire to be creative and produce fine work for its own reward, regarless of commercial considerations. Nick suggested in his summary of my photograph that the fact I had provided it for free was a reason to preclude it from being fine art.

Certainly, for a photographer to work full time in the production of fine art images fianacial support is essential, either in the form of sponsorship or regular sales of the work produced. It is clearly fundemental for a photographer in this position to have the single-mindedness and clarity of vision necessary to avoid his creativity being compromised by commercial pressure to conform to a proven formular.

The amateur, however, enjoys the luxury of being able to explore his own creative boundaries without the tainted influence of money, driven only by a passion for his subject and rejoycing in the artistic possibilities of his chosen medium. Here lays a contradiction; we can all indulge in our hobby with a purity of motive that befits fine art, even if we lack the ability to actually achieve results that class as fine art. Failing to achieve perfection doesn't dilute the worthiness of our efforts; the pursuit of perfection for no other reason than a love of what we are doing is reward in itself.

Zuiko
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  #30  
Old 19th February 2008
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Re: Fine Art Photography Debate

No (and, yes, I may have been a tiny bit reticent about commenting), I didn't think your snowdrop was fine art either, despite being a very good snowdrop picture as snowdrop pictures go. Photographing flowers well is a tricky business (one of the reasons I gave up on them ages ago - all mine look like rejects from a Sutton Seeds catalogue) but getting something even approaching the intensity of vision found, for example, in photographs by Imogen Cunningham or paintings by Georgia O'Keefe takes dedication and a rare talent indeed. If you're not familiar with them already, take a look and tell me what you think, particularly in relation to your own work:

http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/indexflash.php
http://www.imogencunningham.com/
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