Since the dawn of photography in the 1800s, the medium has witnessed many great changes, evolving from what was at first a scientific challenge to what is now a global mass medium, with all these changes happening over the past 200 years. The 21st century has seen the digital revolution bring capabilities to the photographed image that could never have been imagined 50 years ago. These developments in photography and broader technology have been explored and exploited by artists since the turn of the millennium.
Photography as art
Photography as art was an ongoing debate in the decades following its invention. Some photographers imitated the subjects and styles of traditional "high" art while others used it to create new ideas. With the reproduction of art objects using photography, making art accessible to the general public to appreciate, photography became more acceptable, enabling further development and also establishing art history as a serious discipline.
Early debates about photography focused on whether it had the ability to show artistic expression and therefore be considered as works of art. It was later generally accepted that the camera is an instrument like the pencil and the brush, and photography is a process like engraving and drawing, since what makes an artist is not the process but the feeling.
Events and exhibitions
Fine art photography is now exhibited and on sale in the same way as other works of art. General arts events will include photography along with sculptures, drawings and paintings. Here we list some of the events that are specific to photography:
Unseen. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
International photography fair and festival “Unseen” hosts 54 galleries and focuses on emerging talent as well as unseen work by established photographers. The fair also looks at the most recent developments within the world of contemporary photography.
Barcelona International Art Fair
The fifth edition of BIAF presents over 100 contemporary exhibitors from 30 countries. The fair combines the showcasing of the next generation of talent with some of the most established galleries around the world.
Photo Basel. Basel, Switzerland
The only international art fair devoted to photography based art in Switzerland, Photo Basel brings together galleries, collectors, visitors and buyers from around the world.
PhotoKina. Koln, Germany
PhotoKina calls itself the world's leading trade fair for photo and video. 2018 promises a new look and feel and several new ideas, events and promotions to inspire professionals, traders, hobby photographers and millennials using their smartphone cameras.
UK Photo London, Somerset House, London
Photo London is established as a world-class photography fair, bringing together the world’s best photographers, exhibitors and dealers and also celebrates the most exciting new galleries and artists. Now in its third edition, the programme brings together special exhibitions, installations and talks from renowned curators, writers and directors.
ZsONAMACO FOTO, Mexico City, Mexico
ZsONAMACO FOTO Welcomes international galleries, curators and collectors of photography. Now in its second edition ZsONAMACO FOTO will feature vintage, modern and contemporary photography. A series of activities, special events and an exhibition programme are also part of the weeks events.
MIA Fair. Milan, Italy
The MIA Fair is Italy’s most important art fair dedicated to photography and the moving image. In 2017 it hosted 80 galleries from 13 different countries, 15 specialised publishers and 20 independent artists within an exhibition area of 5.000 square metres. During the fair 6 prizes are awarded including the Piaceri d’Italia Award, which is an acquisition award for emerging artists.
AIPAD Photography Show. New York, USA
The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) presents a range of museum-quality work including photographs, photo-based art, video and new media from more than 100 of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries. The Show offers work across four sections from both AIPAD members, new exhibitors, and also younger galleries.
Paris Photo at the Grand Palais will house 180 exhibitors, including 149 galleries, 31 publishers and art book dealers from 31 different countries. In 2018 five of the specialist photography publishers are exhibiting for the first time. Paris Photo is also launching a new film/video section, exploring new perspectives in image-based art, in association with cinema MK2.
Salon de la Photo. Paris, France
The Salon de la Photo brings together the world's top photography brands, equipment manufacturers, importers, educational establishments, and professional groups. Here, ZOOMS Awards are given for emerging photographers. Special photography exhibitions, portfolio sessions and technical presentations organised and presented by top professionals from the photography press are all part of the event.
PHOTOFAIRS: Shanghai, China
PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai is considered to be the measure for contemporary photography in the region, as demonstrated by the successes of past years both in terms of visitor numbers and sales. The 2017 edition welcomed more than 30,000 visitors over the four-day event and featured 50 galleries from 16 countries.