What is Fine Art Photography?

Updated: May 2, 2020

What makes some photographers work instantly recognisable? What defines a photographers style? How do photographers achieve this? These questions all relate to a photographers method or approach to the art of photography and a journey that ends with a selection of images they can call their own. This whole process has an infinite number of possible actions that eventually offer an insight into the photographers thoughts and like art, the artist/photographer can choose how his or her work is perceived.

Let's start at the beginning. What genre/subject of photography are you interested in? Personally, like thousands of photographers my interest has always firmly sat within landscape photography. This influence could relate to the family trips away in Scotland, The Lake District, Snowdonia, Provence, The French Alps and The French Riviera. From the age of 6-15, I was lucky enough to experience these beautiful locations and envelop myself into the landscape by getting out and about into the fresh air! This influenced me in later life and now I have a profound desire to get outside and record the sights that I see using a camera so these 'memories' can be shared with others. Then comes the format of camera and each and every keen photographer I meet has a very strong view on his/her choice of equipment. SLR, Digital SLR, Medium Format, Large Format, Pinhole, Nikon, Canon, Sony......the list could go on and on. But we should always respect each others choice of camera/equipment, as this will certainly influence and reflect the photographers individual style, which is personal choice.

Other photographers! Yes, we all do it, we spend hours flicking through books/magazines, online portfolios, image databases, visiting exhibitions, instagram, flickr, 500px, the list of inspiration goes on. But are we comparing ourselves or looking for inspiration? There are certainly sites that stroke ones ego, where photographers will spend days liking and commenting on other fellow competitors images in the hope the favour is returned and they can earn the respect of the online community. I did this for a number of years, but then realised I wasn't really progressing as a photographer and always felt deflated looking at others stunning imagery! But the one thing that has changed me over the years, is the number of photographers work I follow (a handful) - Peter Lik, Jonathan Chritchley, Ansel Adams (of course), Nick Brandt and Michael Levin. All these photographers highly influence me because I thoroughly enjoy looking at their work. I do not directly copy their style, but inter-grate techniques, imitate simple composition and reflect the equipment used in the field. This inspiration offers me the direction I need in order to build a recognisable style - but I'm not quite there yet.

So we've looked at genre, equipment and artist influence. What else is there? How you shoot in camera is a massive part of the finished print and this will most likely be influenced by what we have already discussed. However, there is one important subject I'm yet to touch on and that's location. Some photographers will research, research, research and others will step out into the wilderness and search for that eluding composition. Personally, I'm both. But what I try to achieve is a composition or search for a location that differs from others, or choose a prefer angle and not always being attracted to the impressive familiar visa's. So you find your location and you frame your image, this could be impulse, rule of thirds, lead in line, layers, tonal, detail, contrast....the list goes on, but this is a large element on the finished image and will certainly help define your style.