Tag Archives: fine art photography

It’s Lonely Out Here

It's Lonely Out Here

Brian Auer | 06/29/2008 | Huntington Beach, CA | 135mm * f/2.8 * 1/?s * ISO50
[Purchase Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This photo is quickly becoming one of my personal favorites — but we have yet to see if it stands the test of time. It was shot recently at Huntington Beach around the same time and location that my “Darkness Creeps In” photo was taken. Like that photo, this one was also taken on film — Ilford PanF Plus, which is rated at ISO 50. This was the first roll of PanF I’ve used, but the results remind me of the Ilford HP5. Nice smooth tones and gradients, and lower contrast than films like the Delta, XP2, or Neopan. I think it goes well with an old camera and glass, giving the photo more of an “old school” look and feel.


Shoot, develop, scan, upload. That’s one of the things I like about film — you can often get great looking and interesting results without post processing. It’s actually a relief sometimes when you don’t feel obligated to process a set of photos.

Defining Fine Art Photography

Waiting for a moment
Creative Commons License photo credit: ^riza^

In the previous poll, I asked “What is Fine Art Photography?” as an open-ended question. We had some really awesome responses, and those who offered up their thoughts definitely put some effort into it. Since we had so many great comments, I had a hard time picking out any that stood above the rest. So rather than feature a few comments, here are some excerpts from all the comments:

Neil Creek

… My rule of thumb definition would be “if I’d be happy to hang it on my wall” it’s fine art. But that’s probably too broad a definition for most. I think the key thing is that “fine art” is completely subjective. No one will agree what is fine art, but it might be easier to get consensus about what isn’t… read more

Niels Henriksen

… The adjective I think is Fine-art, one word and this has an understanding in the artistic and commercial world. This nomenclature is restricted to certain forms of works of art such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, theatre and architecture. Notice how photography is not fine-art just by itself, but shows up when we actually produce prints. It is the actual output or visual art that becomes the fine art… Fine art is also being used to describe a level of quality and sophistication about one’s work… I will also wholly control the output process… read more


Fine art is a field in which the photographer makes the image. Those who just shoot to shoot really do not qualify to be called fine artist. As one who works extremely hard to create I can say that it is the insight and eye that creates the art. I may not come back with what I initially thought I was going to shoot but that is due to the change of the elements and this change also is the process of creating art… read more

Scott Ward

I believe fine art encompasses two things…
1. The photograph should be a “good” photograph. It should be well composed, sharp, evoke an emotional response, etc. This can also be very subjective and market-driven…
2. The media makes a difference. If I am looking to invest in a fine art photograph, I don’t want one that will begin to show noticeable fading in 25 years. I want a print that will last a lifetime and beyond if possible. I believe that fine art is an investment that will raise in value over the years, but it will not if the actual print will not give it time to accrue value…
A fine art photographer would be one, then, to create such works… read more


I think that this is completely subjective. It can range from photojournalistic photography to completely Photoshopped photography that doesn’t even resemble photography anymore. However, it is going to be upscaled photography that definitely pays attention to the canons of photography: lighting, composition, focus, etc… If someone is willing to pay for the photography and they want it hanging on their walls, then they probably consider it fine art… read more


For me it’s simplicity with a punch. Something that when you look at it, you just know that it is something more. You cannot wrap my mind around it, your awed, and inspired at the same time. I rarely come across photos like these. There are many kinds of art photographs that I consider amazing, but rarely something I’d label “fine”. You inspired me to look through Wikipedia for the answer, and really there isn’t an answer… Who’s to say what fine art is? It can be generalized, but not defined… read more

John P Sercel

I tend to agree with Niels, in that Fine Art is the image (in this case) that the artist creates – art for beauty’s sake – and is completely separate from the media it is finally transferred to. It is a kind of dangerous definition, I suppose, to say that the artists designates his own work as fine art, but then I don’t know of any absolute metric that can be used… read more

Chris Lohman

It’s funny that this topic came up. Just the other day I posted a pic on a “Critique My Photo” blog for Fotki. The pic was my attempt at Fine Art Photography. The title of the post was simply “Fine Art?”. I received a wide variety of responses and not alot on my pic. Rather the debate was about what is “Fine Art” …??? One of the best post was the following… read more

Alessandro Rosa

When I thought about your question of what fine art photography is, the word crafted came to mind. The dictionary definition for crafted (v.) helps explain my viewpoint: “To make or construct (something) in a manner suggesting great care or ingenuity.” So I would say that to be considered a fine art photograph, the image needs to be crafted by the artist, or to restate it I would say that my definition of a fine art photograph is an image that is made in a manner suggesting great care, ingenuity and skill. So subject, lighting, composition and idea are well thought out, display a mastery of the craft of photography and are executed to produce an image of superior quality. Unfortunately, I don’t think that there is anything that can really quantify what the quality is, it is one of those “I’ll know it when I see it things.” Such is art… read more


I believe that fine art photography is less about product, and more about the artist’s vision- a commentary of sorts. Yes, the photographer needs skill, in lighting, composition, exposure etc. but not as much for the purpose of creating a “good” photograph but because to be an artist one must have the skill to effectively communicate one’s vision… I have to completely disagree with those who say that it is about what sells — that may be essential in stock photography for example, but I believe that the artist that is solely producing work because it is what the consumer wants to see has lost sight of their own artistic vision… read more

Harley Pebley

I don’t have anything to add regarding the definition, but do have a recent conversation to relate that I thought was interesting. A friend and I were leaving an annual arts festival featuring local painters and sculptors; all sorts of styles and skill levels. One of these things where you pay a fee and you’re in. I commented on the lack of photographers and suggested it might be interesting for us to try to put something together for next year. I was told we wouldn’t be allowed since photography isn’t fine art… read more

One reader even took things a step further and posted his thoughts on his own blog.

Damien Franco

… Conceptualizing an image from the moment of capture to print should, perhaps, maintain an integrity consistent with evoking feeling… I believe, however, that you can label yourself as a Fine Art Photographer or produce work that is Fine Art Photography if you are placing yourself at the mercy of those who may be more qualified to validate your work… The funny thing is that after you have successfully been deemed, by those in the industry, as a tried and true “Fine Artist” every work you have done prior to the acclaimed label is now acceptable as “Fine Art”. If you’re lucky you won’t already be dead when this happens…. read more

I also posed the question to a few of the others at the Fine Art Photoblog. Neil (shown above as the first comment) answered the question here on the blog before I even had a chance to announce it to the whole group. So here are some additional thoughts from Andrew and Myself.

Andrew Gibson

For me, Fine Art Photography is something that is beautiful. Art is about creating objects of beauty, uplifting the spirit and celebrating the amazing world we live in. Sometimes, though, art is ugly or threatening and disturbing and brings things to our attention that we’d rather not know about or acknowledge. War photography is a great example of this. Take for example the photos of Zoriah, a photojournalist embedded in Iraq who Brian featured recently on this blog. Is it Fine Art? The intention of the photographer isn’t to make art, I’m sure, but to tell the story of the Iraq war from his perspective. But the photos have a strange beauty. It’s art, but it’s disturbing, in your face and deals with issues we’d rather not acknowledge or think about.

Brian Auer

I believe Fine Art Photography certainly falls within the bounds of the encompassing realm of Fine Art. To me, Fine Art Photography has to do more with mastery of the process than the actual photo. This process would include things like choosing the camera, capturing the image, processing, printing, etc. Since the process is typically a lengthy endeavor, the artist will usually form a strong emotional connection with the piece of art they have created. When others see that artwork, they might also connect with that photo in some way, but not necessarily in the same way as the artist. So can we label ourselves as Fine Art Photographers? Absolutely. Nobody knows your work and the process behind it better than you do. Whether or not your work is liked by others is an entirely different question.

What is Fine Art Photography?

The poll this week will be another open-ended question rather than a click-and-vote. The last time I ran one like this, we had some awesome answers and I highlighted them in a follow-up post the next week. So we’ll do the same here.

The question this week spawns from my own involvement with fine art photography. I find photography in general to be a highly subjective topic — what’s good, what sucks, what works, and what doesn’t is typically a matter of taste amongst other things. Fine Art Photography tends to be even more subjective since it’s a narrow slice of photography as an artistic medium.

So, What is Fine Art Photography?

How would you define it? What makes a photo Fine Art rather than something else? Can photographers really call themselves Fine Art Photographers? And what conditions would make it feasible for a photographer to include themselves in this category? Offer up your thoughts, take the discussion where you wish, and I’ll pick out some of the more insightful comments for an upcoming featured article.

And since we’re on the topic of insightful polls, be sure to check out the results and comments from last week asking the question “Do You Take Photos or Make Photos?” It looks like a majority “take photos” rather than “make photos”, and a good portion also says they “do both”. Several commentators also hit on the topic of what these terms really mean, so be sure to check that out.

Simply Religious

Simply Religious

Brian Auer | 02/09/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 75mm * f/2.0 * 1/8000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This church in La Jolla, California caught my eye for its stunning white simplicity. The clear blue sky also helped to compliment the building and its elegance. I was on a photowalk, and we had just started down the road toward the beach and everybody was excited to get shooting. And so, I framed the building to include mostly sky while leaving a good portion of the church (and its surroundings) left to the imagination. I took two shots with different compositions of this church top, and this one turned out best.

Simply Religious Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    This one turned out a little overexposed. I shot it at f/2 with my 50mm lens and it pushed my shutter speed up to 1/8000, maxing it out. I probably should have set the f-number to at least f/2.8.
  2. Processed RAW
    Mainly I just recovered the highlights and darkened the overall image, getting it ready for Photoshop.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I saw that the blues were a little muddy, so I ran it through my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action and brought out the color while adding a bit of contrast.
  4. Clone & Sharpen
    Somehow I sort of forgot to deal with the little bit of brickwork on the bottom edge, so I took that out with the patch tool. Then I sharpened it up a bit.
  5. Curves Adjustment
    I wasn’t totally happy with the tones and colors, so I added a curves adjustment to bring up the highlights and push the shadows down. I left the blending mode to “Normal” so the blues would get a little punch too.


What Would You Pay For Fine Art?

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re not a photographer. You’re an art collector with a little bit of spending cash from time to time. Fine art is a hobby of yours, just like photography is a hobby of ours. Let’s also say that you’ve got your own local framing/matting guy who you take all of your collectibles to, so you typically purchase unframed photography prints from a wide selection of artists.

You’re looking for a modest 18″ print to hang in your house, and you’ve been saving your spare change for a little while. You find a great piece of work offered at a very high quality/longevity and you MUST have it. How much money ($US) are you willing to spend on that print?

What Would You Pay For Fine Art?

And yes, this has to do with the upcoming Fine Art Photoblog. But no, you guys won’t be setting our price point for us. I’m just curious how much of a consensus you’ll come to. Hopefully, it will be more definitive than last week’s poll “Which Site Name is More Appealing?” We had a 50/50 split between fineartphotoblog.com and fineartphotographyblog.com — and I ended up going with fineartphotoblog.com.

Want to Sell Your Art? I Have a Proposition…


I’ve been testing the waters of the fine-art marketplace, and I’m finding that it’s probably more difficult to break into than stock photography. It’s not that I’m against doing stock photography (I do have some images in the PhotoShelter Collection), but I feel that my work is more suited for artistic prints rather than magazine ads.

I’ve been trying to make way with Auer PhotoWorks, but I think I’ve gone about it in the wrong way. For one, I don’t have the time or energy to spend on the design and marketing of the site. And for two, galleries don’t attract the amount of traffic that’s needed to make sales.


Well… I’m going to shut down Auer PhotoWorks at some point in the near future. But I’ll be replacing it with something else. I’m going to start a photoblog for fine art photography. Blogs naturally bring in great traffic because of their structure (and because WordPress is so awesome). The goal of the blog will be three fold: 1) To share more of my work than my once per week “how I done it” feature, 2) To motivate me to spend more time on my photography, and 3) To generate enough traffic to make sales.

I’m thinking of using fineartphotoblog.com or fineartphotographyblog.com for the domain, and the name of the site will naturally follow from the domain name. Anybody have any preferences?

The site will have a simple, neutral, and navigable design. It will run on WordPress. There will be no ads. Each photo will present the viewers the opportunity to purchase the photo. All photos can be purchased as a print. Some can also be licensed.

I’m testing out ImageKind right now as my future method for handling print sales. I have a feeling they do decent work, and I like the fact that they have so many options for papers, matting, and framing. I just ordered a couple of my own prints so I can evaluate their quality (and my color management). I only have a few images up, but I’ll be adding some on a daily basis until I have a good collection going.


I want to take this thing a step further. A photoblog from one person is neat, but a photoblog from a collection of artists is beyond neat. I’m looking for up to 5 other photographers that would like to be part of the photoblog as a method of selling their art. The idea is that a group of photographers should be able to drive more traffic than a single photographer. It will lighten the load on everybody by reducing the need to post a new image every single day. This will allow us to focus on our best work and prevent us from rushing our image preparation. We’ll also be able to feed on each other’s popularity and bring in a wider selection of potential art collectors. I’m saying 5 for right now just to test things out, but we may bump that number up if there’s enough interest.

Each photographer would be responsible for selling their own images — the blog is only a means of generating traffic, you won’t be able to buy anything directly from it. I’m going this route because every photographer will have different needs, and they should have full control over how their images are sold. Not only that, but bigger sites like ImageKind and RedBubble are more trusted than an independent site with a cheesy shopping cart.


I don’t have all the details planned out quite yet, but it’s slowly solidifying. I’m planning on launching the site some time in January. You guys are a knowledgeable group of people, so I’d like to hear your thoughts and questions on this thing. If you have any ideas for improving this idea, I’d be more than happy to hear them. If you think it’s totally stupid, I’d like to hear that too.


If you’re interested in being one of those five photographers, put together a portfolio of 10-15 of your best photos that you would want to sell as fine art. You can do this with Flickr, Zooomr, ImageKind, RedBubble, your personal gallery, or whatever means you have to present me with photos. It needs to be publicly accessible, and I have a reason for this.

I’m not going to decide who gets in and who doesn’t. The photographers who submit a portfolio will decide who gets in. I’ll ask the photographers to vote for the top three to five portfolios, depending on how many there are. I’ll tally up the results and take the top photographers. If I don’t get any takers, I guess I’ll be going it alone. If I get one or two half-hearted attempts, I guess I’ll be going it alone (I reserve the power to veto). Honestly, don’t submit a portfolio unless you’re dead serious about selling your work and helping out with the blog. And do realize that if you want to sell your images through a place like ImageKind, it will cost you a monthly fee at some point.