Andre Cantelmo Photography | Vision, Emotion, and the Fine Art Photograph

Vision, Emotion, and the Fine Art Photograph

December 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


In recent blogs, I have talked about the value of snapshot photography, the unplanned capture of our personal story. This activity is practiced worldwide, without formal training, and is the personal record of our lives. Fine art photography is a little more difficult to define. Rather than attempting to produce a realistic rendition of a subject, fine art photography seeks to reveal the creative vision of the photographer, a more personal view if you will. The line that defines creative photography from scientific or commercial work is more of a zone than a border. One example of a scientific photograph that exists in both worlds is the famous photograph “Earth rise”. The photo of the earth in the distance, with the moonscape in the foreground. This wonderful photograph has changed the way we humans think about the planet we inhabit.


When information is being communicated to an target audience, it is most effective when accompanied by photographs. Dimension and validity are enhanced by the addition of photographs. Advertising most effectively uses images to create desire for a product. The general public is well aware that often the live product does not match the product image. Enhanced color, texture, tone and angle add sex appeal to everything from food to political candidates. Scientific photographs bring us to places we might never have access to. We glance at a photo and are at the peak of Everest, the great Barrier Reef, or the surface of Mars.


Fine Art Photography involves the artistic vision and emotion. When a successful photograph is produced, the viewer is connected to the artist by shared emotional experience. This shared experience may seek to motivate the viewer towards conservation, for example. This was the case in the work of Ansel Adams. Ansel's work was very deliberate, very well executed, and very emotional. His technique was key in helping to communicate his message.


Fine Art Photographers make choices about what my subject will be, what is in the viewfinder, and other creative decisions. Later in the editing process decisions are made on which frame best conveys my message. In the photo editing software, decisions about brightness, tone, and other visuals are determined and effect what the print will look like. The photographer uses common objects to communicate an emotional point. The casual viewer looks and sees a photo of an old abandoned barn for instance. The educated viewer might see a human story of hope and dreams turned to personal tragedy, and briefly share the emotion of whomever inhabited that space. When we spend time really looking into an Adams print of Yosemite Valley. This breathtaking photograph fills us with feelings of awe and peace. It might even motivate us towards conservation.


Photography is very democratic. Most people today have the ability to produce photographs. Camera manufactures promote the idea that the gear is responsible for the work. The casual enthusiast might purchase a camera and dabble at creative photography. When in time it becomes clear that talent, knowledge, and vision are a rare commodity, then the brief romance with creative photography wanes. You would think this would increase the value of the fine art photography market. It has not had that effect. The mindset is that if only I had professional gear, I could produce the same photograph, so why should I pay good money to purchase a photograph? The camera manufactures use this belief to market their product line. I personally know photographers that I refer to as gear heads. They chase after every upgrade, thinking there must be an advantage to owning the latest model. The truth is that the creative process is personal and introspective. The Fine Art Photographers first look is inward. It is a process pursued alone in our own heads. The subjects that we frame are devices to communicate thoughts and emotions. It has been said that when you look at the body of a photographers work, it is all autobiographical.



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