This is an art photograph if for no other reason than it sold as such and was included in a published collection of art photography. It also meets at least eleven of Alain Briot's 14 criterea. I won't say which.
"Gordon, perhaps you could do a post about what makes a photo ‘Fine Art.” This term seems to be bandied around a lot these days, and any photo category from portrait, landscape to macro seems fair game to be included in the ‘fine art’ group. It would be nice to know what you and your readers consider the attributes that an image must have to be labelled ‘fine art.’"
-- ATB Karl
Great question, Karl. Here is Alain Briot’s 14-point checklist from Marketing Fine Art Photography:
- Fine art photography is first about the artist.
- The photographer must consider himself an artist.
- The artist must demonstrate control of the creative process and final outcome.
- A fine art photograph is done with the goal of creating a work of art.
- A fine art photograph is not just documentary.
- The image represents an interpretation of the subject.
- A fine art photograph has an emotional content.
- The composition is complex and sophisticated.
- A metaphorical level of meaning is present in the image.
- The emphasis is on quality instead of quantity.
- Cost considerations are secondary.
- The artist wrote an artist statement.
- Individual pieces are part of a larger body of work.
- The work is discussed in relationship to other works of art.
Briot provides a full explanation of each one in the book. Quibblers might take issue with one or two, but on the whole Briot’s list presents a clear picture (pardon the expression) of what’s required.
My personal opinion is that “fine art photography” is as much a marketing term as anything else. It’s a label you (the photographer) apply to your work when you want to sell it to people who value the visual appeal of a photographic print as much as the image itself. I have to admit that as marketing terms go, the difference between “art photography” and “fine art photography” escapes me.
Keep in mind that people who buy (fine) art photographs normally intend to frame and display them. If they spend several hundred dollars for a print plus matting and framing, they want their friends, family and associates to believe said photo has artistic merit. This is where credentials such as artist statements, gallery show credits, art school degrees, and bodies of work come in handy. If the work itself strains artistic credibility, credentials help to reinforce the seriousness of the artist (if not the art).
To summarize, my position is that you can call your photographs whatever you like among family and friends, including “fine art.” If, however, you plan to sell them as such, your work will most likely be held to artistic standards such as the ones Briot has listed. You don’t have to agree with them; you can even ignore some of them; but to ignore all of them is to render your work unmarketable as art photography.
That's how I see it. Those of you who have achieved a level of success in the fine art market and feel you have something of value to share with the rest of us should feel free to do so.