Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

State of the ART: The Purpose of Fine Art Photography

Photo.net member, Pete Myers, is a fine art photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is the first of four installments called State of the ART. You can visit this artist and explore his captivating portfolios here.

The debate or beliefs about what makes art can be absorbing and/or tedious depending on the person holding forth. I have had many conversations in class and with other photographers about fine art photography and the changes that came about due to digital photography. Some hold that fine art photography is a product of film and darkrooms, where the more organic approach to print making is apparent, others claim this is just evidence of an interest in the craft based aspects of an earlier photography model and is not relevant to a discussion about whether an image is fine art or not.

This article by Pete Myers on Photo.net address this question, we accept that any view on this is personal and therefore open to challenge, Pete makes many extremely valid points and this article is worth reading and thinking about

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Image caption: American Grasslands Homestead—Image 4 © 2013, Peter H. Myers

For me, the purpose of fine art photography is to ennoble the beauty of what is in front of the lens. It is the photographer’s job to fortify the photograph with a clarity of view unique to his or her passion for the subject. But the image is not about the photographer; it is not about the photographer’s camera system; it is not about the photographer’s technique. The photographer is the conduit for the formation of the image, and what tools and techniques are used should invisibly support the beauty within the photograph in celebrating what is before the lens………

That full-stride moment comes when the fine art photographer simply FEELS. The rest is irrelevant. And it comes at a personal cost of gaining maturity of self that is beyond ordinary “things.” It is beyond the point of worrying about what the photographer is getting out of the process in art or reward. It is beyond the point in what others might think of the work. The photographic tool simply has become the means for the photographer to connect with the meaning of life’s truth, through beauty. What is seen through the lens is a metaphor for truth as shown through beauty. And to get there, the artist must give up all the rest. The perfect light is that which is imperfect.

So how does this all have relevance to your own personal work? For most, photography is an advanced hobby or part-time vocation as part of a very hectic life. Driving one’s passion to the limit might not be fully achievable with the time available. But nevertheless, there is a lot that can be ventured that will have immediate benefit upon the direction of your own work……….

READ MORE HERE

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2 responses to “State of the ART: The Purpose of Fine Art Photography

  1. Jane Buekett May 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I’d hate to disappoint you by not commenting on this. I agree with him about feeling rather than thinking, and that less is more. But I completely disagree that fine art is about beauty. People who don’t want to be challenged by it THINK art is about beauty – the Pre Raphaelites in your living room and Mozart as background music – but in my view that is a complete cop out. Art is surely about how we respond to the world, and the greatest art sends us away changed by the experience, by the artist’s view of the world. It disturbs, moves, inspires, it makes us think, it turns things on their head, it challenges. If it doesn’t do any of that, it is just decoration.

    • oxfordschoolofphotography May 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      that is a very quick response, of course I agree with you, I find ‘art’ that is merely decoration lacks the point, I understand that there is a good reason for decoration but it may not be art, thanks for the comment

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