Fine art photography is an expression used in reference to photographs that were created by an artist following a creative vision or ideology. A definition of fine art photography can be made in contrast with photojournalism, which uses the camera to render actual events and news, or in contrast with commercial photography, which uses this method to promote certain services or products. In general, any photography that is realized for aesthetic reasons, with a concept in mind, trying to convey something much like poetry or painting do, can be considered as being fine art.
However, there is no accepted definition of fine art photography, nor any rules to follow in order to create it. Ever since the invention of photography, there were those who saw more potential in this technology and saw beyond family portraits and other practical valences it may have. Thus, we find pioneers of fine art photography as early as Victorian times, the most prominent being Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The United States had fine art photographers as well, in the likes of F. Holland Day, Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz, the last of which was also responsible with introducing photography in museums and art galleries.
The most common themes which could be found in fine art photography up until the 1970s were portraits, nudes and natural landscapes and, while they were maintained all through the 1980s and later as well, they started being represented with fresh eyes, through new perspectives. The usual way of presenting photography exhibitions was by simply pasting the photographs onto block boards or plywood, with a white border surrounding them, because framing them was considered in poor taste. Another reason was because it was generally assumed that framing and putting them behind glass would reflect light and thus make it difficult to perceive all the details. Thus, even in the 1960s photographs were pasted and displayed simply at even the most pretentious of all galleries and museums.
Subsequently, all galleries and museums started framing the fine art photography and place it behind glass, but the trend of printing and simply exhibiting them seems to have been brought back with the inception of the 21st century. Although fine art photography is meant to convey a message or artistic concept, it has also been used to advance certain causes, to make political statements and promoting a realistic view of the world.