So, what are some true fine art photography Web sites
where you may look, appreciate, and perhaps purchase pieces
without fear of having them eventually fade?
And what different types of photography are there?
Where might you browse and feel comfortable in the knowledge
that the photographer is, in fact, a fine art photographer?
An absolutely wonderful Web site that’s chock
full of information—not to mention some of the
best photographs ever produced—is Art-Support
There’s a lot of information here for a novitiate
or even a dyed-in-the-wool photography nut such as myself,
so I’ll list just a few of the photographers and/or
gallery sites. (Individual Web sites will be listed
for each photographer even though you can get to their
sites through these links.)
Areas of fine art photography include but are not limited
to landscape, seascape, nude, and abstract. Further
subcategories would include black-and-white photography,
hand-colored (painted on) black and white, and a myriad
of chemical processes such as cyanotype, platinum prints,
and palladium prints. For the most part, I’ll
treat this as a primer article, concentrating on black
and white, color, and a few alternative processes as
Photography has been around since the mid-1800s. Mathew
Brady’s documentation of the Civil War made him
one of the first well-known American photographers.
Brady had a portrait studio in New York in 1844 and
another in Washington, D.C., in 1856. His portrait clients
included 18 U.S. presidents. Go to http://www.multimedialibrary.com/FramesML/ml.html
to see Brady’s work.
There are many links to the masters to choose from
on this site. Scroll down to the bottom of the page,
bypassing the articles and resources for artists, to
get access to “Ansel Adams,” “Edward
Weston,” and “Other Masters of Photography.”
It was Adams (http://anseladams.com)
who taught us what a black-and-white print should look
like. You’ll see his Moonrise over Hernandez,
which generally fetches around $40,000 for an 8 x 10-inch
original print. Other original photographic prints by
Adams can range in price, depending on the image and
size, from $15,000 to much higher. There are matted
inkjet reproductions (8 x 10-inch and larger) also available
beginning at $20, with a framing option beginning at
$75. Two things that separated Adams from his contemporaries
were his use of long (telephoto) lenses and his developing
and printing techniques. He was simply the best.
You can also check out Edward Weston (http://www.westongallery.com):
The link to his Web site resides next to Adams’.
Known primarily for his work in the Southwest, particularly
Dune and other works in the desert, most of his photography
that is currently available has been printed by his
sons, Brett and Cole Weston. An 8 x 10-inch original
photograph by Weston without matting or framing generally
begins at $9,000 and goes up in price from there, depending
on the image. While true photographic prints are out
of the affordable price range of most of us, extremely
high quality and affordable poster prints are available
from both of these photographers along with several
softcover or hardcover books.
Current photographic artists whose works are also
linked to this repository include Michael Kenna, Gary
Auerbach, Christopher Burkett, and Freeman Patterson.
Michael Kenna (http://www.michaelkenna.net)
works exclusively in black-and-white film, the choice
of medium for Adams, Weston, and others. Much of Kenna’s
landscape/seascape work is minimalist, clean, and simple
in style while wonderfully printed. He does an outstanding
job with architectural photography as well. Kenna does
not limit himself to photography of the Southwest or,
for that matter, the United States. His love of photography
has led him to Russia, France, England (where he was
born), Spain, Easter Island, and the Orient, among other
places. These photographs, however, are not your typical
travel or vacation snapshots. When viewing these photographs,
you’re seeing through the eyes of a talented and
well-established photographic artist.
A gifted photographer and writer with a philosophical
bent who is also linked to this site is Freeman Patterson
While the previously mentioned photographers worked
in primarily black and white, Patterson works in color.
Much of his work is abstract; on first glance, you might
think it has been digitally enhanced. In fact, Patterson
works almost exclusively with color negative or positive
(slide) film. Through the combination of intentional
camera movement and multiple exposures on the same frame
of 35mm film, Patterson creates abstract and impressionistic
images of nature, not unlike some of the paintings of
Monet. In Patterson’s most recent book, Odysseys,
the surrealistic images of sand-filled houses of an
abandoned diamond mining town located in a desert in
South Africa gives pause to whether the Patterson has
“gone digital.” Rest assured, photography
traditionalists—he has not.
Christopher Burkett has photographic works of art on
this fine site, and his personal Web site (http://www.christopherburkett.com)
is also linked at Art-Support. Burkett’s work
habits are a bit unusual in that he chooses to shoot
with both a medium-format camera, resulting in a 2.25
x 2.25-inch frame, as well as a large format camera,
resulting in an 8 x 10-inch frame. His shooting style
is unusual because most photographers utilize one format.
On this site, you’ll see Burkett’s love
of nature exemplified by his portrayal of landscapes
and seascapes. His photographic travels have taken Burkett
to many of the Western and Midwestern states of America.
Currently shooting almost exclusively with an 8 x 10-inch
view camera loaded with slide film, Burkett avoids digital
printing, preferring the traditional color darkroom
to produce an Ilfochrome print or a print directly from
Burkett’s photos begin at $750 and rise in price
to $10,000, with most in the area of $2,000 to $3,000.
These prices reflect the cost of the print only.
Gary Auerbach (http://www.garyauerbach.com),
like Burkett, also chooses to work with a large camera,
though the two photographers differ in their choice
of size, medium, and subject matter. While Burkett uses
8 x 10-inch slide film (or transparencies, as large
format slides are also called) and focuses his lens
on nature, Auerbach utilizes an 8 x 10-inch camera as
well as an 11 x 14-inch camera to photograph people
and buildings. Think about that: 11 x 14 inches is the
size of the negative. Imagine the size of the camera.
That is also the size of the finished print, as no enlarger
is used with the platinum printing process.
Following the link to Auerbach’s site, you’ll
see some celebrity portraiture and Native American portraits
as well. The celebrity portraits are diverse, ranging
from Arnold Schwarzenegger (the actor and current governor
of California) to blues man Taj Mahal to news anchor
Walter Cronkite. If portraits of celebrities aren’t
your idea of fine art, perhaps images of current day
Native Americans will touch you.
One of the more striking images in this section is
Eddie in His Cornfield. It seems strange to see corn
growing almost 6 feet tall next to canyon walls. Auerbach
also utilizes the Polaroid transfer process, placing
the emulsion part of a color Polaroid on watercolor
paper. This is an alternative process one may experiment
with very inexpensively and yet achieve satisfactory,
Due in part to the process used, Auerbach’s platinum
photographs become special. Platinum printing is one
of the oldest photographic processes and dates back
to the 1850s. A piece of paper is chemically treated
by hand to allow a photograph to be made on it. Platinum
printing and its photographic sibling, palladium printing,
are known to last from 500 to 1000 years because of
the chemicals and paper used.
Auerbach’s original images are the most affordable
of the photographers mentioned in this article; they
range in price from $500 to $800.
The Test of Time
In the end, fine art photography is about the artistic
creation of lasting images and lasting memories. And
what has been proven to last are Ilfochrome/Cibachrome
color prints as well as black and white, gelatin silver-based
prints. Add to this mix the so-called alternative processes
of platinum, palladium, carbro, and cyanotypes of days
gone by and there is, in fact, truth in photography.
All the photographers mentioned in this article use
one or more of these processes.
When looking at or purchasing a print made by these
processes, one need not ask, “How long will it
last?” or “What printer did you use?”
To borrow a phrase, “We hold these (photographic)
truths to be self-evident.”
Ken Rubino has been a photographer and writer for
20 years. His own fine art photography is often exhibited
on eastern Long Island, N.Y., where he lives and manages
his own photography and camera shop. He can be reached