History of Fine Art Photography
Building upon knowledge gained from the trials and errors of others before him, Joseph Nicephore Niepce, 1826, finally produced the first stable photographic image (a negative) upon silver nitrate-coated paper within a camera obscura. However, it would take decades before art critics and the general public would accept photography as an art form, as its practical applications (documenting events and people for posterity) would initially overshadow its purely aesthetic possibilities. In an effort to have photography recognized as a “high art,” enthusiasts founded the (now venerable) Royal Photographic Society in London in 1853 to champion the cause, and similar societies were founded around the globe. At the turn of the 20th century, photographer and gallerist Alfred Stiegler did much to promote photography as a fine art. He founded a group of photographers called the Photo-Secession and, in 1905, opened a fine art photography gallery aptly called Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession. Today, it is abundantly evident that photography is indeed a fine art, and far from the mere literal representation of objective reality that it was once thought to be.
Fine Art Photography Techniques
Like all other artistic mediums, fine art photography encompasses an array of genres including landscape, portrait, nature, and editorial which can then be broken into many more sub-genres. The tools and techniques a photographer uses depends on their preferred genre, style, and personal artistic preferences and point-of-view. There are many tools available to photographers to achieve their desired effects, such as: lenses which allow them to capture images at various depths of field and at varying distances; lights and lighting equipment including reflectors, diffusers, and colored filters; colored backdrops; various types of film; special photo development processes; and photo manipulation software, to name just a few.
Artists Known For Fine Art Photography
The earliest examples of fine art photography tended to mimic paintings and sculpture in theme, composition, and posing of models, if any. Examples include Oscar Gustave Rejlander’s allegorical photomontage “The Two Ways of Life” (1857), Julia Margaret Cameron’s “Light and Love” (1865) staged to resemble the Christian nativity scene, and the many still-life photographs of Roger Fenton. One of the first works of modernist photography is Alfred Stieglitz’s “The Steerage” (1907), a photograph of lower-class passengers on a boat traveling from New York to Germany. Eadward Muybridge was the first to capture photographic images of animals in motion, but was widely known as a landscape photographer. Surrealist works of the 20th century include Man Ray’s “Violon d’Ingres” (1924) and Dora Maar’s “Pere Ubu” (1936) and Hans Bellmer’s “The Doll”. Other famous fine art photographers include: Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind, Cindy Sherman, Annie Leibovitz, Ernst Haas, Diane Arbus, Andreas Gursky, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Ruth Bernhard.