Possible Duplicate:
What makes “fine art” fine art?

I have seen a number of sites selling "fine art photography". I was wondering what makes photography fine art? Is it the type of photography, the quality of the photography, the equipment/ materials used or is it simply a status an artist gains by being a member of a guild?

  • It sold for a lot of money.
    – Fake Name
    Jan 21 '13 at 15:52

It's fine art if the photographer decides the picture belongs in a gallery or museum (while it can be sold it has to fit the artist's vision, and it's commercial value is less important).

It's commercial art if the photographer tries to sell prints to hang on the walls of homes and businesses (so it must be an image that can be sold, even if it doesn't completely fit into the photographer's vision).

It's photojournalism if the photographer tries to capture something that has general interest exactly as it is in real life (so it has to tell the "truth", commercial value is only a secondary consideration and the artist's vision is irrelevant).

Etc. etc. etc.

"fine art" doesn't have to be any good and it doesn't has to be accepted by experts of other artists (or any guild), there are a lot of artists creating bad art other people don't appreciate - it doesn't make it any less artsy.

Update: didn't mean to say fine art can't be sold, only that the artist is more concerned that the picture fits some vision/theme than with it's commercial value.

  • 1
    Fine art can't be sold???? When did that rule get voted in?
    – user2719
    Jan 21 '13 at 13:07
  • @StanRogers - didn't you hear? fine art is only made by starving artists, money is for sellouts (I updated the answer)
    – Nir
    Jan 21 '13 at 13:20
  • 2
    Art, money, integrity - pick any two. ;)
    – Guffa
    Jan 21 '13 at 13:31
  • Glad you expanded on that :). I tend to photograph London architecture/landmarks and have seen many examples of similar art in London galleries. Jan 21 '13 at 13:34

According to Wikipedia, one of the (many) definitions reads "Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer" and is a loose term seemingly intended to differentiate noncommercial photography from commercial and journalistic photography.

Personally, I think there needs to be some component of genre, and recognition of a photograph as 'Fine Art' from the wider critical community, but it's a fuzzy line.

A blurry picture of Aunt Mabel playing the piano isn't fine art until someone (not Aunt Mabel) labels it as such and is willing to pay for it.


It becomes art when the intended presentation is creative. You can contrast this with journalistic photography (or imagery), but any given image can exist in both realms at the same time.

It becomes fine art essentially if the viewer or viewers agrees it's fine art (and if enough viewers over time agree then society in general may also deem it as such and it's status as fine art may be assumed). I've never really seen a better definition than that and I was a fine arts major.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.