There are probably more discussions and definitions concerning What is Fine Art Photography? then there are Fine Art Photographs so I decided to add to the mix being a “Fine Art Photographer” creating “Fine Art Photography”.

So what is the “Fine” in Fine Art Photography?

Doing a little research on Google for the definition of “Fine” suggests;


Adjective: fine; comparative adjective: finer; superlative adjective: finest

(of high quality.) “This was a fine piece of film-making”
Synonyms: excellent, first-class, first-rate, great, exceptional, outstanding, quality, superior, splendid, magnificent, exquisite, choice, select, prime, supreme, superb, wonderful, superlative, of high quality, second to none;
Antonyms: poor

So substituting the word “Fine” with a synonym the question of What is Fine Art Photography? becomes:

  • What is “Excellent” Art Photography?
  • What is “First-Class” Art Photography?
  • What is “First-Rate” Art Photography?
  • What is “Great” Art Photography?
  • What is “Exceptional” Art Photography?
  • What is “Outstanding” Art Photography?
  • What is “Superior” Art Photography?
  • What is “Splendid” Art Photography?

and if we use the antonym we get – What is “Poor” Art Photography? I guess that is a valid question.

We can even use the comparative adjective form “finer” or even superlative form “finest”. Maybe I am going to change my photography genre to “Finest Art Photography”. What do you think?

Get the idea? Confusing or just extremely subjective, I think so, although it seems to me that “Fine” Art Photography is “BETTER than” just plain old Art Photography and certainly “BETTER than” Poor Art Photography.

A web search revealed the following number of instances (pages) with the words “fine art photography”:

  • Google – 6,390,000
  • Yahoo – 2,570,000
  • Bing – 2,2560,000
  • Ebay – 607
  • Amazon – 81,808

Obviously, there seems to be a lot of interest in Fine Art Photography, selling Fine Art Photography, creating Fine Art Photography, and on, and on…..

Well, with a little more research revealed that there is:

  • Fine Cuisine
  • Fine China
  • Fine Cooking
  • Fine Home Building
  • Fine Young Cannibals
  • Fine Chocolate
  • Fine Woodworking
  • Fine Wine
  • Fine Man
  • Fine Hotels
  • Fine Art Print Media
  • Fine Music

If guess you could put the word “Fine” in front of any person, place or thing thereby making it “BETTER than”!

There is even an Acronym for FINE: Freaked-out, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional as quoted from the movie the “The Italian Job” (2003) with Donald Sutherland and Mark Wahlberg and there is also a song by Aerosmith “F.I.N.E.” guess what the “F” stands in the song! Maybe that is what all of us “Fine Art Photographers” are? F.I.N.E. or maybe just me.
Taking this concept further: Wikipedia suggests these definitions for “Fine Art Photography”

Wikipedia – Fine Art Photography

Among the definitions that can be found in reference books are:

“Art photography”: “Photography that is done as a fine art — that is, done to express the artist’s perceptions and emotions and to share them with others”.[1]

“Fine art photography”: “A picture that is produced for sale or display rather than one that is produced in response to a commercial commission”.[2]

“Fine art photography”: “The production of images to fulfill the creative vision of a photographer. … Synonymous with art photography”.[3]

“Art photography”: A definition “is elusive,” but “when photographers refer to it, they have in mind the photographs seen in magazines such as American Photo, Popular Photography, and Print, and in salons and exhibitions. Art (or artful) photography is salable.”.[4]

“Artistic photography”: “A frequently used but somewhat vague term. The idea underlying it is that the producer of a given picture has aimed at something more than a merely realistic rendering of the subject, and has attempted to convey a personal impression”.[5]

“Fine art photography”: Also called “decor photography,” “photo decor,” or “wall decor,” this “involves selling large photos… that can be used as wall art”.[4]

1. McDarrah, Gloria S., et al. The photography encyclopedia. New York: Schirmer, 1999
2. Hope, Terry. Fine art photography: creating beautiful images for sale and display. Mies, Switzerland: RotoVision, 2003
3. Lynch-Johnt, Barbara, and Michelle Perkins. Illustrated dictionary of photography: the professional’s guide to terms and techniques. Buffalo, NY: Amherst Media, 2008
4. Engh, Rohn. Sell & re-sell your photos, 5th ed. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2003
5. Jones, Bernard E. Cassell’s cyclopaedia of photography. New York: Arno, 1973
Then there is, of course, a Masters Degree in Fine Art

Here is what the School of Visual Arts is saying about their program in Photography, Video and Related Media. This is just an example; other Schools have similar programs, for example Yale, etc.

What is “Art”? in “What is Fine Art Photography”?

There certainly are hundreds of essays, articles and books attempting to define the word Art and all it’s implications since the first drawings discovered thousands of years ago created by the Egyptians.

To be continued……please come back! Comments? Thanks.