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Photography Question 
Rhonda M. Barrett

Fine Art Photography?

Is there such a thing as Fine Art Photography? Is this what it is called?

I put a ad in a couple of places and received 2 emails.In one email they asked if I would be available to do their wedding and the other one was for senior pictures.

I don't do either.All my shots are of landscapes,macro,black & white etc.. which I try to get into Galleries and the like.

So is Fine Art Photography the right phrase to use?

Thank you!


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12/12/2008 7:07:50 AM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  What's the difference between a large pizza and a landscape photographer? The pizza can feed a family of four! :-)

Seriously, if you want to make steady income as a photographer, you have to provide a service that people want. It seems like the people you're advertising to want wedding and portrait photography, not landscape/art photography. Perhaps it's your advertising? Or, the venues you chose to advertise in?

Advertising only works when your target audience is receptive to that advertising. Obviously, you wouldn't expect success by running ads for steak in a vegan magazine. If you want to advertise your fine art photography, find a venue that appeals to folks who would purchase fine art photography. Perhaps a Sunday paper insert that emphasizes interior design or home redecorating, "Sunset" magazine, working with local furniture stores, etc.? Or maybe even setting up a gallery.

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12/12/2008 11:25:09 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Interesting question Rhonda. I might start by noting that all great artists have to "suffer" to some degree, whether by starvation or having their work misunderstood. Take Rembrandt, VanGogh and even Cezanne, among others. Photography has long offered similar foibles and pitfalls that you need to learn how to circumvent, as John suggested. To do that, I recommend too that you focus your priorities. For example, do you want to be a fine art shooter or do you need to make a living? Those two types of work don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. In fact, while they could, it takes years of perfecting your craft AND combining that with making your work known and selling it to succeed in a particular photography arena OR to be independently wealthy enough to be able to shoot what you want, when you want and how you want without pleasing a particular market.

You picked a very tough nut to crack. Fine art shooters are about a dime a dozen. I hate to tell you that and I don't mean to be discouraging but it's a fact. These days, it seems like everyone with a point and shoot camera envisions themselves as Ansel Adams and yet he wasn't exactly wealthy. Digital point and shoot cameras have diluted the very market you want to enter. So, as John suggested you need to distinguish yourself. And also, you need to perfect your craft.

Since you've approached galleries, I suggest you enlist the help of a few owners to point you in a direction you need to go in. That's not their job, especially these days, but some are more helpful than others and will be glad to explain the market their gallery appeals to.

Also, for some obvious reasons, you should be very critical of your own work before you start showing it to galleries or prospective clients. You want to show them work you've really scrutinized for technical and artistic quality, reviewing things like focus and sharpness, tonal quality, color balance and saturation, perspective, depth of field. Ask yourself before you release the shutter what kind of artistic statement you're trying to make. Don't just randomly shoot to play the odds of getting a unique shot out of dozens or hundreds of ordinary ones. Work that sells is planned and usually doesn't occur by accident.

Take some courses in photography and study the work of other artists including photographers, painters, designers, etc. Not to duplicate what they have done necessarily but to understand what they did, why, and technically how they did it. Really look at their work, don't just glance at it. See how they allowed light to fall on their subjects or waited for the right moments. Try calculating how they lit a subject if there's artificial light involved and practice your own techniques. There is a rep named Maria Piscopo in Los Angeles who has written a couple of very handy books on promoting photography in different realms including advertising and gallery/fine art work. Take a look. She's a real pro at marketing. Be patient, work hard, perfect your craft every time you shoot.
Be well and take it light ;>)

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12/15/2008 8:41:04 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Just to be clear Rhonda, please don't construe anything I said earlier as a critique of your work. It's not.

Learn about your prospective markets and the business aspects of what you want to do, rights of usage, etc., and above all, try and put yourself in the position of the art buyer who is inundated with photographers either looking for work, looking to become established, looking for gallery space, or a publisher. That's not an easy seat to be in. Have some empathy for them.

I forgot to mention you should score a book called "Photographer's Market" published by Writers Digest Press. There's a ton of information in there that's worthwhile knowing from marketing tips to particular market info, and a number of prospective buyers from all sorts of commercial art markets.
Latah ;>)

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12/15/2008 8:50:46 PM

Rhonda M. Barrett   Thank you both John and Mark!

You have given me much to think about.I am going to look for the books you mentioned,Mark and get them because I want to learn as much as possible.


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12/22/2008 4:06:59 AM

Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer   To kick a little more into the conversation, the work you prefer to do is Fine Art Photography. The term covers a lot of ground, but I have heard it defined as shooting what you love to shoot and trying to sell it as art. Remember, when it comes to any artistic endeavor that beauty/art is in the eye of the guy with the checkbook.
A couple things you should consider, if you want to make your living wholly from photography look into doing some commercial work, shooting products and brochures. There are a whole bunch of small companies out there that can't afford a big time commercial photographer, you may find a niche that will give you a steady income. I'm considering that approach right now.
Another option is to keep your day job and do the Fine Art Photography in your free time.
It's a tough racket and like auto racing only a relative handful of participants get to make serious money at it. Most of the rest of us are amateurs and wannabees.

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1/10/2009 2:39:16 PM

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