Boston Wedding Photographer - What is Fine Art?


Creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content. — "The convergence of popular culture and fine art"

An activity requiring great skill or accomplishment. — "He'll have to learn the fine art of persuasion"

Fine Art is

…a process and methodology.

…the creation of art for the sake of art. I don’t believe you can call yourself a fine art photographer if you’re only shooting client work. You should create for yourself — work that inspires you, work that challenges you, and work that like Marie Kondo would say, sparks joy.

…when the photographer has a very strong aesthetic and point of view. A at minimum the photographer is heavily directing each scene — they pose their subjects, they style objects, etc. The photographer may have conceptualized and executed the scene entirely. The photographer approaches their work with the sole goal to create beauty. This is the exact opposite of documentary photography. A documentary photographer does not “create” — instead they “tell”. Their goal is to tell the story exactly how it happened; without interference. Many documentary wedding photographers will not take a single formal portrait. They choose to be a fly on the wall.

…a reflection of old world thinking — the idea that craftsmanship which takes years to perfect is still valued in a technology driven world. This manifests in the way fine art artists choose to create work. Think hand-made paper, calligraphy and film. All these mediums have been replaced by modern technology, but the artist has chosen to use them because they believe it will achieve results a computer/technology can’t.

Fine art is not

…a medium/tool.

…an editing style, but it is often associated with adjectives like romantic, classic and timeless. It’s not usually associated with trendy, dramatic, moody, and dark. With that said, there are always exceptions!


Film photographers are always fine art photographers! False. There are plenty of fine art photographers who use digital cameras.

Fine art photographers only photograph luxury weddings. False. The confusion comes from the fact that, for fine art film photographers, there are a lot of additional costs associated with shooting film, so at surface level it appears they are charging more, but after expenses they may not be charging more than a digital fine art photographer. I do think the majority of fine art photographers would place themselves in a higher-tier market, but that’s not solely based on the fact they are using film. Pricing is a complex beast — I might write a blog post about it in the future! There are certainly fine art photographers who shoot non-luxury weddings.

Only photographers who have been shooting for 10+ years can be considered fine art photographers. This is kinda false. Just like in any industry, especially in the creative field, years of experience does not always equal skill and ability.

You can’t be a fine art and documentary photographer. False. The two processes are not mutually exclusive. I’d argue most photographers, like myself, mix both methodologies. When it comes to your details and portraits, I approach the scene with a more fine art perspective. When it comes to your ceremony and reception, I rely on a more documentary approach to tell your story honestly.

Fine art only applies to photography. False. Fine art can apply to any form of visual art.

With all this said, I truly believe fine art is a relative term and means different things to different people. What do you think? Write me and let me know!

Hannah Cochran