I used to call myself a fine art photographer because the non-commercial pictures that I take are a personal expression of the way that I see the world. I want to communicate emotion, beauty, the importance of certain things - my vision. Using every bit of knowledge, technique, light, form, shape, understanding of aesthetics, I strive to craft an image that has power and integrity.
So why do I say I used to call myself a fine art photographer? Because I think that the label fine art photographer has become devalued by the rubbish that it is now used to describe. Images with no aesthetic value, poorly composed, technically pathetic and worst of all singularly lacking any semblance of communicating anything other than the complete lack of skill by the 'artist' in anything photographic are now published in books, hung on gallery walls and bowed down to by the same public that praised the emperor's new clothes.
In the days of Man Ray fine art photography meant something. It was an authentic artistic expression. Photographers were pushing the boundaries, expressing ideas in new ways, looking at the world with fresh eyes. Since then the label has steadily devalued and fine art photography has been in decline. Now any image can be fine art, no matter how poorly conceived and executed.
Don't get me wrong. I am certainly NOT saying that every photograph that is labelled fine art is rubbish but rather that far too many images given this title are not worthy of it. There is more craftsmanship in a well lit, beautifully composed food shot for an advert, and more meaning in an emotive editorial or documentary photograph than in an ever increasing number of images on the walls of galleries.
So I now prefer to be seen as just a photographer, an image maker, who takes pride in the aesthetics of his craft, rather than as a fine art photographer.
I always thought that fine art was something that should reveal a strong idea, a central concept or that it should be product of the highest craftsmanship, be beautiful even if the subject was something shocking. An art photograph should raise questions in the viewer, move them, produce a feeling, communicate on a deeper level, have an element of wonder about it. Without naming names there are several hip, well regarded fine art photographers who manage to do nothing more than produce trite, boring images supported by flimsey 'artistic statements' to which the only reasonable reaction would be to yawn.
If you have an opinion on this I'd like to hear it. Email me.