Photography refers to the process or practice of creating a photograph – an image produced by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor). Photographer’s basic kit includes a camera, a series of different lenses, lens cleaning products, a camera stand, an equipment bag and nowadays a computer and memory cards. Additionally, photographers may have studio lights, video cameras etc. depending on the requirements of their artistic expression.
We all take photos and snapshots in our everyday life and all photography is part of visual culture, however, when it comes to artistic photography we are talking about an artistic media in which particular attention is paid on the artistic skills and vision of the photographer. This is referred to as fine art photography or art photography. Artists often have an idea of what they want to convey with their photographs such as a story, a message or an emotion. They take time in developing that idea and deciding the way they want to express their vision and with which techniques to carry it out.
Art photography differs from representational photography, such as photo journalism, in that it does not present documentary, objective coverage of real life events or subjects but rather the artists imaginative presentation of their subject. Also, commercial photography is not considered art, even if the photographer is skilled and photoshoots are carefully planned. Their main purpose is always to sell products, services or brands. This being said, commercial photography, especially in fashion, is in some cases considered to be a fine line away from art, if not overlapping. Same applies to photojournalism, where some photojournalists’ work has been raised on the walls of art exhibitions and museums. Photojournalists often work in and seek situations in which they are able to tell real life stories with a strong message with their photos.
Photography was not widely recognized as fine art until the 70s. Popular subjects were portraits, nudes and natural landscapes. Artists are known to look for the perfect light and conditions for their photographs, however today, utilizing staged lighting conditions is common. Digitalization has offered a vast array of possibilities to use one’s imagination in processing photographs afterwards. There are filters to create ambience and visual highlights as well as software programs to modify the original shots. At a time of such technological advancement that it is possible for any tech savvy person to take and (artificially) make good photographs it is no surprise that some artists have returned to a more natural way of taking photos (i.e. using natural light and minimal modification). This has given rise to a certain renaissance movement in photography.