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What do we mean by 'fine art' photography?

Fine-art photography sounds intimidating, because it can imply that fine artists are of a vastly different calibre to other artists. It can be easy to think that fine artists have studied their distinct craft in some great detail before embarking on their own journey, but the reality is that fine-art photography is essentially the same thing as personal photography—that is, personal art created through the medium of photography.

fine-art photography Looking For Air (2012)
This image was created using Ikelite underwater housing, a regular pool, and some red fabric. Sometimes playing with colour and allowing the natural form of the body to take centre stage is beautiful.
Fine-art photography is the exact opposite of commercial photography; in other words, it’s about shooting photographs for yourself rather than for a client.
Fine-art photography is very similar to conceptual photography, in that both relate to the artist’s vision. The main difference is that conceptual photography is not always fine-art photography, because the concept behind the image might be the artist’s or it might be the client’s. Fine-art photography is a wide-open genre that can encompass many different types of imagery; it is not just limited to shooting elegant nudes or landscapes, but extends to any type of photography. For example, do you love shooting portraits? Portrait photography can easily be fine art if created with the artist’s own interest in mind, rather than setting out to satisfy the subject of the shot.

Resource allocation

Deciding when or if at all you wish to embark on commercial photography, in addition to your pursuit of fine-art work, can be a difficult decision to make, especially if you feel the need to support yourself through your photography. All the resources open to you are limited—time, energy, creative ‘juice’—and you do not want to comporomise one for the sake of the other.
It is, however, a choice every potential fine-art photographer needs to make on their own terms. Perhaps some of the best advice is to think carefully about how you allocate your precious resources, keep true to yourself in what you shoot, and make your decision carefully. Bear in mind that if you can get yourself into a position where you are confident in your skill, have a strong, recognisable style, and are shooting what really inspires you, there’s a strong chance someone out there might hire you to deliver just what it is that inspires you to create.
Inspiration is not a far-flung concept, out of reach to all but a few great artists, and nor is it a matter of chance; as a photographer it’s possible to train your mind to see the creative possibilities in any situation. Featuring the pioneering work of author Brooke Shaden and a selection of carefully chosen contributing photographers, Inspiration in Photography book provides the perfect balance of insight and instruction to help you find inspiration whenever you need it and capitalise on it every time.

Inspiration in Photography, Brooke ShadenInspiration in Photography by Brooke Shaden.

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RRP for print edition: £17.99