photo-i DVD
a guide to digital


Fine Art Printing.


We have seen some tremendous developments in photography over the last few years particularly with the advancements of digital cameras, scanners, software, and printers and whilst a lot of time has been spent reviewing equipment and demonstrating software techniques, I thought it was time to devote a section of photo-i to fine art digital photography.

What is Fine Art?

Fine art came from term used in 1767 as a translation from the French term beaux arts which included a limited number of visual art forms including painting, sculpture, architecture and printmaking. The term has evolved and is generally accepted to mean something requiring highly developed techniques and skills.

But at the end of the day, whether a photograph is either ‘fine’, or ‘art’, or both, really comes down to personal choice – what one person views as fine art may not be not be the view of another.

photograph © Vincent Oliver

Art for all

Attitudes to fine art and the inclusion of photography have changed.  In 2006 we saw photographs selling for record amounts. In May, in London, at a Sotheby's sale of classic black-and-white photographs by Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Helmut Newton, prices more than doubled their estimates. This sale included a set of 1976 Avedon photographs of the Rolling Stones which sold for £153,000. In December, 2006, another world record price of £230,000 was set for Man Ray’s, Electricite. Artprice, which monitors auction sales, reports that prices have risen by 30% in the past year.  There are now more than 40 galleries specialising in photography in London compared to a handful just a few years ago and institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery hold regular exhibitions and competitions. 

But besides the big money being paid for the big names, the interest and demand for art is much broader and diverse and whereas the art market was once for the elite, now it is available for anybody, anywhere – from private home to corporate offices. We’ve moved on from the old “Is photography art?” argument and don’t need to be dictated to by a money-minded art world. It’s much more about the enjoyment of pictures – if you like the image or it looks good on the wall, then that’s fine. It’s personal choice.

HP Designjet Z3100 - 24 and 44 inch models - are they the ultimate Fine art Printers?

Manufacturers have also turned their attention to fine art digital photography, by producing very advanced printers incorporating spectrophotometers, pigment inks and the ability to handle a wide variety of media types. In October, 2006, Hewlett Packard created a stir with the launch of its Designjet Z Photo Printer Series. These professional large format printers are designed to deliver dependable and repeatable colour accuracy for 24- and 44-inch museum-quality prints with 200 years’ photo permanence. The Z3100 printer will be feautured in detail on our first Fine Art Printing video.

Whether you just want to frame your pictures to enjoy at home, or whether you want to exhibit – this section is here to help you interpret and get the best from your images.  We’re going to be taking a look at specialist media, inks, limited edition printing and speaking to photographers, galleries and art consultants.

If you have any points to raise, interesting tips, or questions, please feel free to post them on the photo-i forum.

12 January 2007

© Vincent Oliver 2008
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