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What is a Fine Art Print?

Fleksåsen seen from Numedalslågen

Fleksåsen seen from Numedalslågen

Flesberg, Norway / January 2009

Many photographers, my self included, uses the terms Fine Art Print or Fine Art Photography about their prints. But what does it really mean?

The meaning of 'Fine' in 'Fine Art'

Why call it 'Fine Art Print', instead of 'Art Print' or just 'Print'?

'Fine' in the the term 'fine art' really have two simultanious meanings. The first is from Aristotle's concept of Final Cause, that is, the purpose or end point of the work. In latin Fine means 'end' (in fine - at the end) and so in Fine Art this means that the work is an end in itself. The making of the print is its intended purpose.

The second meaning is from the latin word finis - perfected, of highest quality.

It thus follows that a Fine Art Print is a print of an image made with the intention of creating a print as the final form of the image that is of the highest quality.

My definition

For me, a fine art photograph is one that is done with the goal of creating a work of art where the print itself is the final physical expression of the creative process.

It is an image that is done with a high level of craftmanship and care. The goal is an artistic rendering of a subject in the finest manner possible and it should demonstrate very good printing skills.

The cost should take a second seat to the concern for quality. Fine art is about quality, not about quantity. It is not about trying to save money by buying lower-priced inks or papers. It is about creating the finest piece you can create, regardless of cost.

It's about going all the way and do all the work that is needed to make the image as god as possible in the final (fine) physical print. Just making it look good on a computer screen is not enough!

For me, an image is only finished when I have a good physical print in my hand, the Fine Art Print.

Ronny A. Nilsen
Norway, May 2008

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