- Ada, Oklahoma

August 14, 2013

Why fine art photography?

Richard R. Barron Photographer

Ada —

Matthew White, a talented news and sports photographer from Houston, and I recently spent time making images together and discussed imagery. One thing we discussed, and not for the first time, is why I am interested in fine art photography. He is not, yet I sense in him a great curiosity about why we who shoot fine art images are interested in it and why we like it.

My answer is, ultimately, I don’t know.

I will say that there is something inside every artist that drives us to explore our craft. I know that’s true for Matthew too, but in a different direction. He shoots a lot of technically challenging subjects, and honing his skills at that is driven by the desire, like all of us who truly believe in our crafts, toward perfection.

Maybe inside the fine art photographer is a desire to shoot an ever-widening cadre of subjects and the way we render those subjects. It’s an exciting moment to see something we’ve seen a hundred times and then see it for the first time, in a way that we can make it into a compelling image.

I experienced that recently as I was making breakfast from some lovely home-grown hen’s eggs my wife Abby’s co-worker sends home for me. I have prepared dozens of these eggs, and while I photographed them on several occasions, it hadn’t occurred to me until this morning as I cracked the first one how beautiful and complex the shells looked after I poured the contents into a mixing bowl. I literally ran into the other room and grabbed a camera with my 100mm macro lens on it, while my onions were sautéing, to shoot these shells. I set them on the windowsill and the light was just right.

In the middle of one of our conversations, Matt told me that he passed several handsome old barns on his drive from Houston, but that he just “didn’t get” why anyone would stop to photograph them. I smiled to myself when he said that because earlier in the week I had done exactly that, though with disappointing results (the sky was too bright and wasn’t yielding to my efforts to get some tone in it, so I put it on my “go back” list.)

In the end, the pursuit of any endeavor is, of course, a very personal one, particularly if we are emotionally invested in that endeavor. For me as the years have passed, I have tried to expand my photographic vision and the way I communicate that to my audience, and it has borne results both tangible and intangible.

You can read more of Richard’s views on fine art photography at