Can the best photography be considered Fine Art?
Yes, fine art photography exists. It is rising in influence across cultural boundaries and is growing in sophistication among established and emerging collectors.
What is Fine Art Photography?
Art photography is photography that is planned and executed as fine art. The art photographer uses his or her knowledge, skills and aspirations to express his/her perceptions and emotions with viewer and collectors. In this sense, the camera becomes what John Steinbeck described as an "extension of mind and heart."
Just as impressionist paintings were considered to be experimental and at odds with traditional art norms at one time, photography - now nearly 200 years old - has also suffered the growing pains and critical resistance that other emerging art forms experienced. Selected styles and forms of photography have experimented, matured and tested themselves against traditional styles and forms of visual fine art.
Just as there are many styles of artistic painting - abstract art, surrealism, conceptual, pop, photorealism, hyperrealism, minimalism, futurism, impressionism - there are many kinds of photography. Purely objective photography, such as scientific and documentary. Photojournalism, such as Mathew Brady and Dorothea Lange. Candid or Street Photography, such as Cartier-Bresson. Art, such as some of the work by Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams.
Many of the most striking, accomplished and individual works have emerged as enduring forms of visual representation that are rightly regarded as art. The best among these have risen to a level where they engage, connect and are valued, respected and collected as fine artworks. The arts and art goods markeplace is growing, as indicated by consumer expenditures on arts and cultural-related goods in the United States in 2013 (the last year for which comprehensive statistics are available) were $151.7 billion, which was up 17.6% since 2000. Visual art is but one aspect of cultural-related goods, yet an increasingly significant contributor.
Most importantly for me, fine art photography improves our environments - our work, social and living spaces. Art of all kinds, including fine art photography, supports the best in ourselves and others, communicates across cultural divisions, records history-in-progress, and shares stories in compelling ways that free us to experience new pathways to personal development. Art helps us discover our 'best self' in the Emersonian sense. Fine art - including fine art photography - gives form to our vision and aspirations.