Welcome friends - I'm posting published articles and sundry items as time allows. Most subjects pertain to conservation, photo trekking and tourism in borderlands Arizona, USA. More of my articles can be seen on my publisher's website

Monday, April 30, 2012

Article: My Buyers' Guide to Fine Art Photography

Murray Bolesta’s Buyers’ Guide to Fine Art Photography and Philosophy of Life (Short Version!)

Value -

My art is not cheap and is worth every penny and more; I produce compelling images with the highest artistic and technical merit. Meticulous attention is given to every detail of an image, from visualization and composition to editing, printing and final inspection (and matting & dry-mounting if you order them). Often I print several copies of an individual order before I choose the perfect print for shipment. The others are destroyed. No two prints will be precisely the same: this is not a factory.

Dimension and orientation -

The relative dimensions (height and width) and orientation (vertical or horizontal) will depend upon the artistic composition. No standard size or orientation will be used (such as 8x10 horizontal) unless it optimizes the composition. If there must be a standard dimension, I prefer the 8x12 to 8x10, as it is much more elegant  and visually pleasing. Accommodating discounted standard framing can be left to others.

Aesthetic appeal and decorative appeal -

Buyers of fine art photography are often less concerned about coordination with home furnishings than buyers of decorative art. Buyers often are driven by subject but are also by composition and quality of technical rendering. Other more personal elements are taste, style, emotional appeal, and of course, affordability. Many fine art buyers rely on instinct, on an immediate attraction.

Composition, or balance, is the basic structure of any image: its spine. Fine art photography will exploit a natural balance within a scene’s subjects and distribution of light. Expert composition will de-emphasize or eliminate extraneous subjects. Each major region of an image will possess its own contributing merit. Fine art photography will rarely be a snapshot.

Color harmony and context of colors in an image will produce a fine art photograph. Often the point of an art image is not the color at all; instead it’s the composition, subject, contrast, and texture. Thus a mediocre color image can be transformed into art as monochrome. Also, color often is managed to produce increased harmony or enhanced impact.

Photographs which have been significantly altered, or rendered, digitally, to produce an unnatural effect of fantasy are not fine art photographs; they are digital art.

Fine Art Nature Photography -

All subjects must be photographed in wild nature, with no zoos, museums, arboretums, or other controlled circumstances acceptable.

Technical merit -

A fine art photograph has meticulous attention doted upon every centimeter. Technically, most significant is what does not exist: There will no unintended overexposed or underexposed regions which obscure detail. There will be no digital “noise” or dots and streaks in the image. There will be no unintended blur or out-of-focus regions, or excessively sharpened regions. There will be no unintended disharmony of color. Digitally, there must be sufficient resolution to produce enlargements without loss of quality.

Activism -

Fine art photography strives for commentary on the human condition or issues of activism such as conservation. This can be expressed in the image and in the motivations and adjunct work of the artist.

Printing and displaying -

A fine art photograph will be printed by the artist, since fully half of the value of the image comes from a faithful paper reproduction of a photographic negative or digital frame. The paper should be premium heavy material, perhaps cotton, specifically designed for fine artwork.

Fine art photography, like all art, is meant to last indefinitely. “Archival” is often used here. This will require premium photo paper, and glass or acrylic protection which contains ultra-violet light filtering. Matting the photograph will remove and protect the paper from glass. The hung art print should have very minimal or no exposure to direct sunlight.

A fine art photograph should be signed by the artist, and may include a title. The location of the signature will be visibly on the front and could either be on a corner of the image itself or just outside the image on the white margin. My matting and mounting solution (for sale in my Etsy shop and elsewhere) allows for a visible signature in the white margin.

Finally, the point of a fine art photograph is the image, not the frame. The frame should enhance and protect the image but not overwhelm it.

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