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What Is Fine Art Photography?

Learn all about this photographic style and its key characteristics

Although there isn't one clear definition to describe fine art photography, a key characteristic of this type of photography project is that its author always has a clear intention. In this discipline, the photographer is considered an artist.

The images, which translate the creative vision of the person behind the lens, seek to go beyond reproducing or representing reality, as is the case, for example, in documentary photography.

Instead, these images are the fruit of an artistic process that will usually have been developed over months. Their aim, like all works of art, is to invent, or, to quote a song by brazilian artist Caetano Veloso, "throw worlds at the world".

Fine Art photography is characterized by the motivation of the author, as we see in the work of Danny Bittencourt.

A good example is O (IN) VÍSIVEL, a project by photographer and writer Danny Bittencourt (@dannybbittencourt), who teaches the Domestika course, Fine Art Self-Portrait Photography.

The artist begins with a very clear idea, "to question the way we end up protecting ourselves with metaphorical canvases, which, at the same time, suffocate us", to create a series charged with imaginative and suggestive power. She writes that "reflecting on photography can lead us to understand that it goes far beyond the visual field because it is not just a record, it is not an end, but a medium."

"Photography is constantly linked to its visual quality as if this could be used up in a finite image. However, as a result of its impermanence, it overflows, it exists. Reflection on photography can lead us to understand that it goes far beyond the visual field, because it is not a record, it is not an end, but a medium. The image exists in this relationship".
Danny Bittencourt - O (IN) VISÍVEL
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O (IN) VISÍVEL, Danny Bittencourt.
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O (IN) VISÍVEL, Danny Bittencourt.
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O (IN) VISÍVEL, Danny Bittencourt.

How to get started

For the best chance at success, a fine art photography project must be anchored in a previously defined concept. Your first idea does not have to be complex; it can simply serve as a guide. After all, we are more likely to find something when we know what we are looking for.

"We constantly hide under metaphorical canvases to fit into what our environment demands of us. Sometimes, without realizing it, this fragile fabric slips and reveals us to be completely lost in the space we occupy. Then our own existence and our emptiness, which no one understands, overflows and fills the whole space for a second. Photography always lives and thrives on the suffering of those who see it".
Danny Bittencourt - O (IN) VISÍVEL

You will notice that, with each version, your idea becomes more cohesive and closer to its final form.

References

Before you start preparing your own project, check out three of Danny Bittencourt's top references.

Deborah Sheedy (@deborahsheedy)

Deborah Sheedy is an Irish photographer whose work, mostly analog and monochromatic, embraces dreamlike constructions of interpretive space.

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Deborah Sheedy
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Deborah Sheedy
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Deborah Sheedy

Josephine Cardin (@cardinphotography)

Josephine Cardin is an American photographer specializing in self-portraits full of interventions, both manual and digital. Her images "explore human sensibility through abstract stories" and establish a dialogue between the artist and her audience.

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Josephine Cardin
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Josephine Cardin
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Josephine Cardin

Polina Washington (@polina.washington)

The work of this Russian artist, who started out shooting 35mm, has a strong cinematic influence. Many of her images look like film stills, given its sensitivity, narrative charge, and the great care awarded to composition.

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Polina Washington
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Polina Washington
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Polina Washington

If you enjoyed this post and are interested in this photographic approach, check out Domestika's artistic photography courses. Embrace your inner creativity.

English version by @eloiseedgington.

You may also like:

How Photography Fought to Become an Art
What is Documentary Photography?
10 Pioneering Street Photographers That You Should Know
Fine Art Photography: Self-Portraits Filled with Symbolism, a course by Lídia Vives
Introduction to Narrative Photography, a course by Dara Scully

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