top of page
  • newton4art

What Is the difference between Photographic Art and Fine Art Photography?

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

It is easy to assume that both phrases mean the same thing - So what is the difference?

Hades and Aphrodite; Luring into the underworld by Clare Newton


Photographic Art

Photographic art on the other hand is based more on a form of surreal, conceptualisation where images don't exist but need to be made to exist - just like painting. Images and projects are conceived and researched in advance, with many sketches to help prepare all the 'material' images needed to make a single image. Each artwork may have a large number of different shoots. in some of my work for the Spirit of legends, a single portrait could have as many as 15 scenes from all around the British Isles. However the finished artwork will be made to look like it is from one shoot, but will have a surreal, dream like quality.

This artistic formula for photography image making does have many different paths. There is my own version where each image forms part of a complex jigsaw puzzle - but each image is accurate to the moment and hasn't been 'manipulated'. This process is called Montage.

Another form or photographic art is pure manipulation where an image is stretched and twisted just like making a Maillard of toffee.

Both forms of this highly complex photography, requires far more skill than a traditional photograph, as it not only requires a high standard of shooting each image - stabilising exposures, understanding light direction and sun time or by-passing lens warping (that would destroy a matching sequence). but also how to blend images once they are registered in the photo programme. The assumption is that computers do all the work - but they cant because images shot - aren't necessarily from the same place or time of day.

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know" Diane Arbus.

Fine Art Photography

Fine art photographs are created as carefully as paintings. If you look at the definition of fine art photography, it states that the work is the creation, and vision of the photographer, who will research then prepare the subject as a set, light it accordingly and photograph the set to achieve one perfect image. It stems from advertising when an image is highly manicured, making the subject so perfect that it is almost unreal. However, it has nothing to do with the quality of the photography, but the vision of the person behind the camera, and what they are trying to interpret. So, technically, two photographers could be standing out in a field with cameras on tripods both taking photos of a landscape.

Quotation from world renown landscape photographer

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. - Ansel Adams.

Marianne Marston Female British Boxer by Clare Newton


Surrealism in art and what could be in photography


Mexican artist and cultural icon Frida Kahlo is arguably the world’s most famous female Surrealist, but women across the globe have long employed art to plumb the depths of dreams and the unconscious. As art historian Whitney Chadwick notes in LACMA’s catalogue In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, the companion to the museum’s 2012 exhibition, “Surrealism’s legacy included a model for creative practices that encouraged many women to adapt its principles in their search to link artistic self-identity to the realities of gender and female sexuality.”

Despite the Surrealist movement that took place in 20th-century Europe being male-dominated, women have contributed to this genre throughout that century—and all the way up to the contemporary period, as seen in the work of Nicole Eisenman and Inka Essenhigh today. So, Kahlo is sitting this one out as we highlight eight historical female Surrealists whose careers spanned everything from painting to poetry.

At the start of World War II, the Spanish painter Remedios Varo and her second husband, the French Surrealist poet Benjamin Péret, fled Franco’s Spain and Nazi-occupied Paris, eventually settling in Mexico, where Varo developed her witty style of Surrealism. Highly influenced by literature, nature, religion, and her friendships with fellow Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington and the photographer Kati Horna, Varo translated her intellectual and spiritual curiosities into fantastical images. From the cloaked woman with almond-shaped eyes and wild silver hair, preparing to free herself from a male spirit in Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst (1960), to a slender female figure who is seen perched in space, grinding the stars, and feeding a caged crescent moon in Celestial Pablum (1958), Varo’s paintings are the wildest of dreams. - Asmita Das.

Surrealism in photography is a relatively new genre. It was particularly popular in the 1930's with photographers such as Angus McBean, Horst and Cecil Beaton. It is having a bit of a come back.

Kirsty Mitchell, a fellow female photographer, creates mystical and dream-like surreal photographs that clearly communicate her intense, deep, and personal connection to her unique artwork.

“Photography art became my only escape when I could no longer talk about how I felt. It became an utter fantasy world that blocked out the real one, and a place where I could return to my memories of her, far away from those hospitals walls” .

33 views0 comments


bottom of page