4,384 artworks, 1,083 artists
Photography is a kind of fine art in which the artist realizes a creative idea in the form of a photographic image, a snapshot using technical means. Along with the advent of photography, a technical branch of photomontage (anc. gr. φῶς, φωτός — light and fr. montage — lifting, installation, assembly) arose, which involved the creation of a visual image using fragments of individual photographs.

Photographers achieve the accuracy and reliability of the image through technical means, therefore, at the dawn of the technology emergence, there was heated debate about whether it is permissible to classify photography as a fine art. The prevailing opinion was that only a man-made work of an artist without any help of devices or physical and chemical processes can be attributed to art. Drawing by hand on canvas or playing a musical instrument required talent and years of learning, and camera ownership seemed simple and affordable. However, the development and variety of technical photography means has strengthened the role of man in the shooting process. The artist’s emotions and worldview influence the choice of theme, moment and angle. Collage and photomontage techniques, the use of light filters help convey the artist’s intention.

The ancestor of modern cameras, the camera obscura, appeared in 1457 and it helped artists to transfer a three-dimensional image to a plane. French artist, chemist and inventor Louis Daguerre, in collaboration with inventor Joseph Niepce, had been experimenting for decades before the daguerreotype technology appeared. A metal plate was coated with a light-sensitive silver substance and the unaffected particles were washed off with mercury vapour, salt and hot water. The methods of obtaining images changed over the next one and a half centuries. The artists of the late 19th century used a “double technique”: they combined the photography and painting techniques, as a result, the work resembled a painting. Their experiments brought too the art of photomontage: the artists used the play of light, combined the elements of individual photographs, painted photographs with pencils, watercolours or oil paints.

In the first half of the 20th century, heliogravure developed: an artist transferred the image to a metal plate with paint, and then replicated it on paper. In the mid-20th century the black and white, and then color film photography has become wide spread. Since 1981, digital photography began to replace film. Photomontage and collage have not lost their positions, but they turned from a mechanical method of image processing into a software one.

The creation of a photographic artwork includes the choice of an artistic style and genre, aesthetic language and methods of processing photography. Artists use a wide range of technical possibilities to transform a fixed image into a work of art. Theorists divide the photo works depending on colour rendering, composition, and technique. Pop art pleases the eye with its bright colours and contrast of objects; retro and vintage exploits the sense of nostalgia through black and white or minimal spectrum; glamour demonstrates aesthetically perfect and flawless images; grunge expresses social protest in the form of ugly images and an impartial, frank display of the surrounding space. Photography borrowed the genre diversity from painting and supplemented it with various technical features. Portrait, still life and landscape were the first and most widespread genres of photography. Nude pictures that demonstrated the beauty of the human body gained popularity. The growth of megalopolises contributed to the birth of a new genre, street photography, which captures the urban life, creates a “portrait of the crowd” and genre scenes of an individual in society. The reportage captures socially significant events. The reproduction introduces the viewer to the works of painting and graphics. The objects of wildlife photography are wild animals and birds, and macro photography gives the viewer a chance to see the beauty of very small objects inaccessible to the human eye. In the 21st century, art photography has become a full-fledged form of fine art and a “window to the world”.

Photo masterpieces:
A portrait of the writer albert Camus”, “A portrait of Henri Matisse” by Henri Cartier-Bresson; Shukhov Tower 1920 by Alexander Rodchenko; “Study of Perspective — Tiananmen Square” 1995 by Ai Weiwei, “Man on Wire” 1998, “August Gloom” by David Keith Lynch.

Famous photo artists:
Alexander Rodchenko, David Barnett, Ai Weiwei, Irving Penn, David Keith Lynch, David LaChapelle, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nick Brandt, Guy Bourdin, Marc Riboud, Annie Leibovitz.