What is fine art photography? How is it made and how is it different from other forms of photography? And, perhaps a larger question that has stirred debate for decades, can photography even be considered a fine art? We will be answering all of these questions and examining some of the best fine art photography examples the world has to offer. Before we get into what distinguishes this form of photography from the other various types, let’s define fine art photography.

Types of photography

Fine art photography definition

Fine art photography typically falls under the editorial photography umbrella and has just as much to do with the photographer as it does with the photography itself. The quality of the photography is a factor as well as the intent behind each photograph.

If you encounter any other unfamiliar camera terms, our ultimate guide to filmmaking terminology is a great resource for looking things up.


What is fine art photography?

Fine art photography is any photography in which the vision of an artist behind the camera is presented rather than the objective reality of whatever subject the camera is pointed at. This status can be ascribed to photography based upon its critical reception and due to the intent behind its creation, which differs from other forms of photography. Fine art photography can be created with all types of cameras that shoot stills, as it is the artist rather than the tools they use that determines the artistry of a photograph.

What is considered fine art photography?

  • Captures the vision of an artist in photographic form
  • Does not simply reflect reality
  • Classification is somewhat subjective

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Fine art photography techniques

How it differs from other photography

There are some individuals who debate whether or not photography is an art form. For all serious photography and filmmakers, the right side of that debate is clear. But just because photography is an art form does not necessarily mean that every single photograph taken is automatically a piece of art.

Both artistic and non-artistic photography can exist simultaneously. Non-artistic photographs rarely if ever make use of devices such as subtext, metaphor, or juxtaposition, whereas fine art photographs often do.

The following video delves into some of what makes certain photographs art and some not.

What is considered fine art photography?

Perhaps the most important element that distinguishes fine art photography is the purpose and intent of a photograph. A fine art photograph differs from something like a piece of photojournalism or a selfie by depicting something beyond our plain reality. 

Whereas other forms of photography document real life, this type of photography creates something new.

photography examples

Fine art photography examples

Now that we know what this type of photography is and how it differs from other forms, let’s take a look at some examples. The following video showcases a number of good examples. It takes a deep dive into getting yourself into this world if that is something you are considering.

Photo techniques showcased by The Art of Photography

Ewa Cwikla, the artist behind this photograph titled ‘Candy Smoke,’ was awarded the prestigious title of ‘Fine Art Photographer of the Year.’ The light values and composition lend a painterly quality while the subject matter lends an evocative air ripe for interpretation.

What is Fine Art Photography - ‘Candy Smoke by Ewa Cwikla

Fine art photography examples: ‘Candy Smoke’ by Ewa Cwikla

This photograph titled ‘Burnout’ was honored as one of the top abstract fine art photographs of the year. The abstract quality of this image comes from the difficulty in discerning precisely what you are looking at.

When you realize that this is actually an aerial landscape photograph, it reframes the image in a new light.

What is Fine Art Photography - ‘Burnout' by Tom Putt

Fine art photography examples: ‘Burnout’ by Tom Putt

This beautiful image, titled ‘Dichromasie,’ offers an example of how architecture photography can cross the gap from documentation to new creation. The artist’s vision is clear with this elegant, minimalist perspective of city buildings and solid sky.

Beyond being aesthetically pleasing and uniquely rendered, this photograph also serves the purpose of stripping architecture down to its bare-minimum. It also presents it in a color palette that maximizes the visual information received by individuals with partial color blindness.

What is Fine Art Photography - ‘Dichromasie' by Luka Taukert

Example: ‘Dichromasie’ by Luka Taukert

All types of photography can become fine art. Given enough thought and intention behind the creative choices that go into capturing a stunning photograph. The next time you are out taking photos, look for ways to increase the artistic merit behind each image. 

Maximize the quality of your images by focusing on these techniques as well as the fundamentals of composition, exposure, and contrast. And, if you need creative photography ideas for inspiration, we’ve got you covered.


Is photography a fine art?

You may be surprised to hear that there are many people out there who contest that photography is not an art form. Is photography a fine art? We explore both sides of the debate with evidence so you can decide for yourself.

Up Next: The Photography as Art Debate →
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  • Sam Kench is an internationally-awarded screenwriter, independent filmmaker, and film critic. Lover of foreign films; hater of American remakes.

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