How to fake it: What to say about Fine-art Photography

In our How to Fake it series, we seek to simplify art topics into bite-sized nuggets to enable you with the tools to be an art conversationalist.

For this ‘How to Fake it’, we explore the world of Fine-art Photography and show you why it is a beautiful art form that ought to be appreciated.

An elderly man from the Rabari Tribe poses for a portrait in Rajasthan, India, 2010 Steve McCurrys Source:

An elderly man from the Rabari Tribe poses for a portrait in Rajasthan, India, 2010
Steve McCurrys

One of the biggest questions in the art world that is still being debated today is if photography should be considered as an art form. Compared to a painting, photography captures a moment in time in its actuality, but a painting is created from what the artist chooses to see. It is hard to believe that photography should be an art form when anyone today can easily replicate an image with his or her hand phones. Together with the belief that anyone with a camera can be a photographer, it is no wonder that people gasp at the seemingly high prices of a photograph.


Boulevard du Temple (1838)
Louis Daguerre
Generally accepted as the earliest photograph to include people


How is Photography an art?

We have many photographers today using photography as a medium to express their artistic skills. These photographers spend years developing their technical and artistic camera skills. But what differentiate the fine-art photographers from the others are message, intention, choice, technique and print.


James Hetfield’s expression while I was mixing drinks (2013)
Agan Harahap
Agan Harahap uses Photoshop to talk about celebrity obsession and how photography can lie.

A fine-art photograph originates from a message or an idea. What makes a photographer a fine artist, lies in his or her abilities to combine his or her photography skills with their ideas.

A fine-art photograph is taken with intention and the photographer can repeatedly capture this intention with various subjects.

A fine-art photographer makes multiple choices in the process of selecting and creating the final image we see. A fine-art photographer chooses the composition, the amount of light within a shot, what elements to include. He or she also chooses how it is presented in the end, in terms of framing and size as well as the type of printing.


What defines a photograph as art?

A simple way to define a photograph as an art is any image taken by a camera when the photographer’s intention is in the aesthetics of the image. This aesthetic, while may vary from person to person, should be pleasing to the viewer, created in accordance with the photographer’s artistic vision. In comparison to fine-art photography, we have representational photography used in journalism, giving a documented visual account of subjects and events. We also have commercial photography that is used to promote products or services. The purpose of the photograph can help identify whether an image should be considered a fine-art photograph or not.


V-J Day in Times Square (1945)
Alfred Eisenstaedt


How has photography influence art today?

A genre of art that covers painting, drawing and other visual graphic media, an artist usually studies a photograph and attempts to reproduce the image on canvas as realistically as possible. Evolved from Pop Art to counter Abstract Expressionism, photorealist painting use the cameras and photographs to collect information. Photorealism paintings are only able to exist today due to photography.


DONUT (1995)
Ralph Goings

Considered as an advancement of Photorealism, Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture that is created to resemble a high-resolution photograph. While it may be photographic in essence, it comprises of a much more complex focus on the subject depicted to present it as a living, tangible object. It gives viewers a new sense of reality and confronts them with the illusion of manipulated high-resolution images.


Seven Chambers (2010)
Jason De Graaf



Check out the photography works we have on our site, and see if you can spot the characteristics of the Fine-Art Photography that we have mentioned above!


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