Photography is the process and art of recording pictures by means of capturing light on a light-sensitive medium, such as a film or an electronic sensor. Light patterns reflected or emitted from objects expose a sensitive silver halide based chemical or electronic medium during a timed exposure, usually through a photographic lens in a device known as a camera that also stores the resulting information chemically or electronically. It is often the basis of advertising and in fashion print.
Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism and commercial photography. Photojournalism provides visual support for stories, mainly in the print media. Commercial photography's main focus is to sell a product or service.
Successful attempts to make fine art photography can be traced to Victorian era practitioners such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Oscar Gustave Rejlander and others. The first photographers primarily sought to imitate the effects of painting, but a push towards legitimizing photography as an art form in its own right was expressed through formalism. By exploring the limits of photography, photographers like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams sought to get at photography's essence and discover what made it special as a medium apart from painting and sculpture. Later, the "moment" became photography's focus. French photographers Henri Cartier Bresson and Eugene Atget took pictures of the Paris they saw around them, and documentary photography subsequently saw a rise to the ranks of fine art and the darker side of life became a new trope with the work of Diane Arbus. William Eggleston opened up color photography to the rank of art with his landmark show at MoMA in 1976. Today, the sense of scale, the everyday, the journalistic and digital manipulation are all current trends as artists still wrestle with issues surrounding photography.
American organizations, such as the Aperture Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art, have done much to keep photography at the forefront of the fine arts. Much curatorial and scholarly work has also been done in the United Kingdom and France.(read less)