Ah the perpetual questions of photography’s place in the art world, which started with the birth of photography 150 or so ago. Is photography art? Is all photographer art? What makes some photography art and other photography not art?
Most importantly IS MY PHOTOGRAPHY ART? Or which of my photograph are considered art and others simply snapshots?
For me the argument has been settled long ago when photographer’s began to be shown at art shows in galleries and museums and collectors began collecting photographs as fine art.
Photography is an accepted fine art medium. All major art museums have photography collections. Photographers has been granted major retrospective at MOMA, The Tate Modern and other predominate museums. Photography is taught as a fine art medium in art schools around the world.
But certainly not every photograph is considered art. To me the difference is the intent of the photographer. The artist uses photography to create a specific vision they wish to communicate with the world. This is different than a randomly shot snapshot. The intent is to create a single image or series of images that explore an idea.
This is why the modern art world ignores Peter Lik and no major museum has his work in their collections. He creates beautifully rendered postcard images but there is no meaning or intent behind them other than to create a pretty picture. Today’s museums collect art which explores ideas beyond simple beauty. So photography that explores ideas is considered fine art while a beautifully shot landscape basically falls into the realm of craft.
When is photography art? When it pushes the boundaries, when it shows us a new way of seeing, when it exposes a truth, when it explores an idea, when it pushes us out of our comfort zone, when it shows us how to see anew.
I was researching DIY photobooths for possible set up at my son’s prom when I came across this cool little printer called the Happy Printer from Zink.
It uses a heat activated ink less color technology developed by a spin off from the old Polaroid Company. Its kind of like the label printer I have that used special heat activated label. The great thing is there is no ink to purchase.
The Happy Printer uses rolls of special paper in a variety of widths such as two inch, one inch, 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch. The rolls are about 20 feet long and there is even an app available to “stitch” strips together if you need a bigger print.
And if printing off little color photos or strips of photos isn’t enough fun, did I mention that the paper is also a sticker? Double the fun when you can stick the result right into a scrapbook project or on a lunch bag.
There are two versions of the Zink Happy Printer currently on the market and a number of other little portable printers that use the Zink technology.
The ZINK Wi-Fi Enabled Wireless Printer with Arts and Crafts App sells for $99. ZINK hAppy Smart App Printer hAppy is the portable, Wi-Fi, app-accessory that allows you to print directly from smart phones and tablets. Just download the free ZINK Design & Print Studio app onto a smartphone or tablet (or use a 3rd party compatible app); load a ZINK zRoll™ (photographic-quality ZINK Paper in roll form), design, and then wirelessly print to the hAppy. It’s compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. hAppy is also compatible with Android smartphone and tablets and Amazon Kindle Fire tablets. hAppy works with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print apps.
The ZINK Wireless Touchscreen Printer. Wi-Fi Enabled. Built In App for Editing and Printing Photo & Labels On-The-Go. Prints Directly and from IOS & Android Smart Devices sells for $199 and adds a touch screen for creating images right on the device.
ZINK hAppy+ Smart App Printer. Featuring the Google Android operating system, the hAppy+ has built-in Wi-Fi, a touchscreen, and runs ZINK apps, making it your all-in-one tool for designing and printing whatever you can imagine, all from the palm of your hand. Via built-in ZINK apps, users can create and print directly on the hAppy+ without needing other devices. Just load a ZINK zRoll; create the design on the printer’s touchscreen; press print; and then place and adhere the print to create a variety of projects. hAppy+ is also compatible with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloudprint. The hAppy+ can also work as a companion to smartphones and tablets.
Zink stands for “zero ink” is a full-color printing system for digital devices that does not require ink cartridges and prints in a single pass. The printing technology and its thermal paper are developed by Zink Imaging, Inc., a US company. Zink Imaging makes all the paper; makes a printer for printing labels and other designs on rolls of Zink zRoll; and licenses its technology to other companies that make compact photo printers, and combined camera / compact photo printers that print photographs onto mostly 2×3” (about 5×8 cm) sheets of Zink Paper.
The Zink technology and Zink Imaging started as a project inside Polaroid Corporation in the 1990s, which spun out Zink Imaging as a fully independent company in 2005.
Photobooth App with Zink
Happy Printer can be synced with Photobooth apps like Photobooth and SimpleBooth to create a photobooth for events.
Other Printers That Use Zink Technology
There are a number of small, mobile printers (and instant cameras like the Polaroid Snap) that use Zink’s inkless technology but they use sheets instead of rolls of the Zink paper. Instead they use packs of 10 sheets at a time. I don’t like this method as much as the Happy Printer’s long rolls but here are the options.
Polaroid Zip mobile printer
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
Kodak Mini Mobile Wi-Fi & NFC 2.1 x 3.4″ Photo Printer with Advanced Patent Dye Sublimation Printing Technology & Photo Preservation Overcoat Layer (Gold) Compatible with Android & iOS
How to Succeed in Fine Art Photography with Brooke Shaden plus further reading.
“Anyone can become a fine art photographer, but not everyone can become a gallery-represented artist.”
Talent alone will not bring you recognition as a fine art photographer. For that, you need exposure to collectors and museums. Galleries can give you that exposure, but first you need an effective marketing plan to reach the galleries. You will find that plan in From Photographer to Gallery Artist.
Author Kara Lane conducted hundreds of hours of research, and contacted over sixty galleries, to find the best strategies for getting your fine art photography into galleries. Now she is sharing the secrets she discovered with you.
In this complete guide to finding gallery representation, you will learn:
The criteria galleries use to evaluate fine art photography
Three primary resources for identifying the best galleries for you
The tools you need to showcase your images and experience
Six major marketing strategies for attracting gallery representation
Key issues to discuss with galleries before agreeing to representation
How eight famous fine art photographers achieved their success
Self-assessment questions to help clarify what you want from your life and art
Lists of recommended portfolio review events, art fairs, juried shows and competitions, art magazines and blogs, artist websites, and other resources to help you become a gallery-represented fine art photographer
With your talent, effort, and persistence…and the research and marketing strategies in From Photographer to Gallery Artist…you can achieve gallery representation!
Did you know? Fine Art Photography – Known also as “photographic art“, “artistic photography” and so on, the term “fine art photography” has no universally agreed meaning or definition: rather, it refers to an imprecise category of photographs, created in accordance with the creative vision of the cameraman.
“Fine art is about an idea, a message, or an emotion. The artist has something that they want to have conveyed in their work.
That idea or message may be something small, a single word such as abandon, or it may be a whole statement, like exploring the way the moon affects the tides. It is a start. It is like a hypothesis.”
In recent years as the field of photography has exploded, many photographers consider selling their work to make a profit and to help defray the high costs of equipment. But, many photographers don’t have the business and marketing knowledge required to successfully sell fine art photographs; and many of those who have tried have been met with disappointment. Until now, little information of value has been available.
In Marketing Fine Art Photography, Alain Briot offers practical, up-to-date and field-tested marketing techniques from the viewpoint of a fine art landscape photographer who earns a living from the sale of his fine art prints.
Briot teaches that by taking control of the selling process, you can increase your profits and, ultimately, direct your own destiny. Briot’s approach is based on offering quality not quantity; and offering something unique, rather than something that is mass-produced. Though directed toward selling fine art, this method can be applied to other products.
After a series of trials and errors, Briot devised a marketing system that allowed him to get out of debt, pay for a state-of-the-art studio, and purchase his first home, all from the sale of his photography. Briot has taught fine art photography marketing to numerous students in seminars, through one-on-one consulting, and through his Marketing Mastery tutorial DVD.
Defining fine art photography
Wholesale, retail, and consignment
Knowing your customer
Where to sell and how to price fine art
Fundamentals of marketing and salesmanship
Profitability and honesty in business
Packing and shipping fine art
Common marketing mistakes
The unique selling proposition (USP)
And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker”
— so God made a Farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board”
— so God made a Farmer.
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild; somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it”
— so God made a Farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt, and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps; who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, and then pain’n from tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours”
— so God made a Farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds, and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place
— so God made a Farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark.”
It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church; somebody who would bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”
— so God made a Farmer.
Paul Harvey, ‘So God Made a Farmer Speech’ to the FFA delivered November 1978, Kansas City, MO.
Ahhh sharpness. If you read a lot of product reviews and fan blogs, a beginning photographer can be lead to believe that sharpness is the holy grail of photography.
Not subject matter, not capturing beautiful light, beautiful composition or storytelling – no sharpness is perfection. Of course this is all nonsense as the subject is always going to be more important than sharpness.
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept”
– Henri Cartier Bresson
In the early days of fine are photography, soft images were all the rage. The “pictorial” style purposely used soft lenses to a acheive a more painterly like result. In these early days photographers wanted to achieve the look of painting. Photography hadn’t existed long enough to support itself as a new medium among the art buying public so photographers tried to mimic painting.
Today all modern lenses are capable of achieving a focal point at the point of focus. No matter what the aperture opening or depth of field, there will be a point at which the lens is sharply focused.
But as fine art photographer Vincent Versace points out, its not the ability of the lens to focus that is important, it is how the lens handles the out of focus areas that make the difference, because after all, 99% of your image is typically out of focus.
“For me, the prettiest aspect of an image is not so much in the areas of focus, but in where the lens ramps from in-focus to blur,” remarks Versace. “The ineffable quality of a lens is bokeh. Neutral bokeh is something that’s frequently achieved, but to go the step beyond to a beautiful bokeh—that is rare and precious. ”
Vincent talks about this in his talk entitled “The Lens is the Brush, The Camera is the Canvas, the File is the Sheet Music and the Print is the Symphony” –
So if sharpness isn’t the most important thing in photography why are there zillions of magazine pages and countless blog posts dedicated to reviewing, testing and rating cameras and camera lens for sharpness?
Because its easier to talk about photography in terms of test results, numbers, features, buttons and products than it is to talk about the art of photography – content, concept, composition, mood, feelings etc.
Art is subjective and can’t be tested or compared in a product shoot out. Sharpness can be measured by nerds in a lab, art is a lot more difficult to measure.
People don’t like to talk about things they can’t measure. Opinions come into play when you don’t have concrete facts and measurements. And when you offer an opinion, you need to justify it and be ready to defend it. Its a braver stance to take when you put your opinion out there then when you present lab tests.
That’s why you don’t see a lot of subjective option but a lot of lab results. But of course ultimately its not the quality of a lens or the equipment but what the photographer does with the equipment.
Print On Demand sites like Fine Art America, Red Bubble, Pixels and Society6 among others allows the buyer to choose from hundreds of thousands of photographs, drawings, paintings and other artwork in all shapes and sizes from framed and matted to canvas prints to metal prints and more plus you can buy the artwork on products such as cell phone covers, tote bags, throw pillows and more.
How Does Print On Demand Work For Artists?
Selling on Print On Demand sites – For artists, POD companies is like handing off all of the order processing, printing and shipping to the POD company. The POD sites provide a platform and database for the artist to upload their high quality photograph and artwork image files. The POD platform allows them a selling platform to offer their work for sale.
The POD site then accepts orders from buyers, handles the credit card processing, arranges to print the items, shipping the items and deals with any returns or customer problems. Then the artist receives a profit margin or commission depending on the site. Commission can run from small site set commission to other sites that allow the artist to set their own profit margins.
The amount of marketing and selling the artist has to do in order for their work to be seen among the sea of other sellers varies from site to site but the majority of the selling is expected to be done by the artist. The site might promote itself but they are unlikely to promote individual artists or at least you will be waiting for a long time before they get around to promoting your work unless you are already well know and have a following.
Some sites do a lot of promoting. They might run regular sales and free shipping offers to promote the site. But there is a relationship between the amount of promoting and they artists profit. Typically the site that spend a lot of money on promotion end up offering the artists lower profit margins. Someone has to pay for all that promotion after all.
Other sites seem to promote the system itself to more and more sellers than trying to bring in more buyers. They figure that enough artists end up buying some of their own work and every new excited seller will be spreading the word among their friends and family. All of this excitement brings in more potential buyers, even if they might end up going to the more established print on demand sellers.
Downfalls of Selling Via Print On Demand Sites
Print on demand sites provide a lot of convenience to artists. Simply upload your artwork and photographs and the POD site does all the work if you get a sale.
But there are some downfalls of selling on POD sites. There are as follows:
Every potential buyer you bring in via marketing might end up buying from your competitor.
Every buyers is a new customer of the POD, you as the artist never know who purchased your work.
The POD is taking a cut of your profit.
Increase competition of selling among thousands of other artists, many whom are hobbyists and retirees who are just in it for an ego boost who would be happy with $1 profit on their work.
The built in profit of the POD sites is not as large as the commissions of 40% to 50% taken by traditional galleries but you also don’t get the services of a traditional gallery like access to their high end buyer’s list and the salesmanship of the gallery workers. Plus the added prestige of your work hanging in a beautiful gallery.
Understanding Print On Demand – Part Three – Buying
“I don`t know if it`s just me being impatient but after a week since i started uploading some of my work I didn`t really sell anything”. – actual question posed to the FAA forum.
If there is any constant in the world of selling art it is that it takes time. Time get established, time to build a following, time to be discovered, time for the buyer to think about their potential purpose, time to build up your portfolio.
When I go to see a show at my local arts center, there might be a piece that catches my eye, but it usually not for a few days of thinking about it that I even come around to the idea of purchasing it, by then the show is usually over and a new show is being put up. Buyers need time to learn and discover your work and what you have to offer.
I see this in my own art sales. Often its the photographs and artwork that I uploaded to my portfolio three years ago which ends up selling. Rarely has anything sold that is less than three months old. Only once did I sell and image in less than a week. I chalk that sale up to total luck. Having something that catches the right person’s eye at the right moment. Its hard to plan for moments like that. The more reliable method of selling your art work is consistency.
“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” – Frank Zappa
Consistently uploading quality work and promoting it over a long period of time. It takes time to build up followers who will come back to your work time and again and perhaps finally make a purchase. They might not be in a financial position to purchase your work today. But that new job in a few years might make the difference. Or they move into a new house, a new office or just finally figure out a great space in their home for your work.
Besides it takes time for new things on the Internet to get cataloged and indexed by the various web search engines or even shared via social media on Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, Instagram and other social media.
It has been said that launching any new business takes at least three years to get off the ground and that most people throw in the towel before the first year is complete. You have to be in this for the long run and believe in your work and put in the effort to get your work seen by buyers. It doesn’t haven overnight or within the first few months or maybe even the first few years. But if you have great work, work that stands above the average, it will be eventually found.
I live in Hanover, New Hampshire but we’re only short drive from the Vermont boarder. We’re so close to Vermont that kids from Norwich, Vermont attend our middle school and high school. I probably spend as much time in Vermont as I do in New Hampshire, crossing over the Connecticut River on the various bridges – covered and otherwise that traverse the river back and forth between the two states. Of course it should noted the all of the bridges are owned by New Hampshire as the NH state line extends to the opposite side of the Connecticut River. This includes the longest covered bridge in the country – the Windsor-Cornish covered bridge.
Both states share a lot of things in common that make for great photo opportunities including:
New Hampshire tends to have a lot more trees. Deer hunter friends of mine give Vermont a better rating because the state has more open areas for deer to flourish but both states have a healthy wildlife population of large mammals such as black bears, moose, deer as well as birds such as the ducks, turkeys, loons, eagles, hawks, owls, geese and song birds.
Both have mountains. New Hampshire has the more dramatic White Mountains range with Mount Washington being the highest peak in the Northeast while Vermont has the Green Mountain range with Mt. Mansfield in Stowe being the highest peak.
Only New Hampshire has a sea coast. Its tiny but its there and it manages to include the rather photogenic and historic city of Portsmouth. Vermont doesn’t have the ocean but it has the impressively large Lake Champlain and the Burlington waterfront. Then again New Hampshire has the lakes region with the very large Lake Winnipesaukee as a centerpiece.
I have to give Vermont the edge on having more scenic farm land. New Hampshire tends to be more forested and hillier. The farmland south of Burlington is flatter and easier to find compositions although if you look around enough there is plenty of great old red barns, cows, farm houses and old farm junk to photograph in both states.
As far as attractions go, New Hampshire has the edge on amusements. Vermont’s attractions tend towards shopping and food. Vermont has the Yankee Candle Company, Basketville, The Vermont Country Store, The Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Ben and Jerry’s, The Cider Mill as well as many beer breweries such as Harpoon in Windsor and a handful up in the Burlington Area like Magic Hat and Switchback. Meanwhile New Hampshire has Storyland, the Cog Railroad, Conway Scenic Railroad, Clark’s Trading Post and Canobie Lake Amusement Park.
As far as National Parks – Vermont has the Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, VT with hiking, an historic mansion tour and a working farm to explore. New Hampshire has the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH which is also in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Since both states are relatively small, you can travel around both in a small vacation schedule. Each has a life times worth of places to explore, hike, ski, boat, hunt and photograph but you can also pick out some highlights in each state to visit and savor.
If your looking for a good video blog on fine art photography, check out Ted Forbes’s video series “The Art of Photography”
The Art of Photography is an online video series I’ve been producing since 2008. I make daily videos on all aspects of photography including history, process, technique and equipment. – Ted Forbes
What I like about this series is that its not equipment focused. So many camera magazines, online videos and websites concentrate on equipment reviews and arguments over which lens is the sharpest or which brand is the best. They don’t talk about the art of photography at all.
Why? Because talking about art and the real essence of artistry is hard. Talking about technical aspects of a piece of technology is easy. Its just numbers and measurements and its all about buying equipment and keeping the sponsors and advertisers happy.
Ted talks about fine art, history, the art world, photographers and what it means to create a body of work rather then a collection of lucky shots. He talks about approaching photography with purpose rather then just showing off the latest equipment purchase.
Photography is an artistic medium used to express the vision of the artist behind the camera. The brands, product reviews, lens tests, opinions, newest gadget, software, filters etc don’t mean squat to the vision of the photographer other then they are tools in the tool box used to bring about the end result.
Wikipedia – Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, such as photojournalism, which provides a documentary visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the subjective intent of the photographer; and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.
“Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity: be intensely yourself. Don’t try to be outstanding; don’t try to be a success; don’t try to do pictures for others to look at—just please yourself.”– Ralph Steiner