Call to arms against "fine art photography"


Miami Beach earlier today - and one of my rare photos in landscape format ! (though I initially debated whether to crop off the right bit)

Was ambling along Lincoln Road this afternoon, and into a photo gallery. Large photos of landscapes, well made, stunning colors, though nothing absolutely extraordinary to my taste.

And suddenly a selection of photos featuring: flowing water made all silky through long exposure; a row-boat sitting on a lake; a jetty or pier; landscapes dribbling with HDR (high dynamic range).

All the stuff that reeks of so-called "fine art photography" - and sure enough, out from the leaflet about the exhibition and its photographer jumped the familiar attending terms: "fine-art", "master photographer" and "artist". He'd even named a selection of his photographs "master-class" or something to that effect.

Quite unfortunate really as the photos certainly had their qualities, though these were being comprehensively dissed by an expression, "fine-art", that, apparently unbeknown to either the photographer or the curators of the exhibition, has become a byword for drivel or rubbish. And quite rightly so in most cases, as a) these collected expressions are a stamp of conformity, and b) a great photo or other work of art doesn't require a label saying it's great, much less a very silly one. It's actually quite astonishing that anybody, particulary curators of a photo exhibition, haven't yet alighted to this.

However, I'm no ayatollah and would be quite happy to settle for a compromise: if you must absolutely use the label "fine-art" for photography, please, please avoid it in conjunction with the following: row-boats, water made silky through long exposure, and piers and jetties. All this stuff together really is too much to bear.

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All photographs on this site copyright of Antoine Boesch