Photography is a democratic medium, everyone can take a photograph. They may not be great photographs but the process of taking pictures has become exceedingly easy. This is both good and bad.
It is good because it allows anyone with a creative mind to express her or his ideas without being bogged down with technique or skill. This will present a great opportunity to those creative individuals. On the other hand, millions snapping pictures only to clutter the closet, or more recently, the computer takes a little wind out of the photographic sail. This apparent ease of making pictures erroneously creates the impression that photographic art is easy. Quite the contrary.
So, what makes a photograph a “fine art photograph?” This is not an easy question to answer. I would like to suggest some attributes that puts a photograph in the domain of fine art.
The artist's eye - We all can hold a camera and all look through the view finder, but why is it that some photo's look better than others? It has to do with the artist eye. With years of training, an artist examines their view of the world and how that reflects in his or her art, how light and shade can effect the meaning or feeling of art, how symbolic messages can influence the viewer. They have learnt the skills to hold captive a viewers eye and draw them into the imagery. This skill is often a thought out process, with clear ideas executed through high skill levels in controlling or managing light. Not easily replicated with point and shoot happy snaps.
The Skill - As discussed using a camera these days is a far cry from 100 years ago. Back then photographers were held high esteem within the community. Today, this is now not the view of most, I have heard comments such as "you only push a button, how hard can it be?" Everytime, I take my gear into the city, I have people stop and ask questions or advice on how to get a better picture, or declare "my images are coming out too light." yet after fail to think of the many years of learning to master such equpiment. If I placed all the camera gear on the floor, along with studio lights, reflectors etc and asked most people, here, go take a nice photo on manual settings, how do you think they would go? For a professional photographer the skill set is way beyond pressing a "auto" button. Understanding what lenses do to an image, how to manipulate light and the thousands of settings that can be used to create an image with a specific intention or concept sets them apart from the average Joe with a camera kit.
The Print - After the artisit uses their creative eye and brings to the fore their skillful techniques to produce their vision, it's time to print. Of course this too is now much easier then once was. But there is more quality options than photo labs, I wonder do most people think that fast labs is the only option? I can attest to using the highest papers there is on the planet, papers that have texture and seems to be able to showcase great art and give it a little more. The company I deal with has been making paper for over 400 years producing paper of unparalleled quality for the artist. Today I am a lucky artist who can use these papers in my photographic art and in turn deliever amazing pieces to my clients.
We at Bowler and Pooch, believe in the quality of art, we believe that art is more than just a photo, it comes with learned skills of the artist through years of training and practice. I encourage all those with similar higher expectations of what goes on their walls to consider the value of the investment in a work of art that is eye catching as a piece but more importantly is created from the love of your family and pets. What could be a greater piece to hang in your home?