What is fine art?

Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist. Photography that is created as a fine art – that is, created to express the artist’s perceptions and emotions and to share them with others.

I’d never purchased a fine art print and to be honest I had no intention of doing so anytime soon. What changed? My answer is two-fold: my emotional reaction to an image and an extremely good cause.

Back in June I travelled to Hobart to attend The 2013 Nikon AIPP Event. The Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP) hail this as their biggest annual event and now that I’ve attended one I can understand why. The line up of guest speakers are worth the entry cost alone but then there are also the workshops, networking opportunities, trade show specials and the chance to ask just about any question you can think of and have it answered!

Having never attended an AIPP Event I wasn’t sure what to expect.  This will sound terrible but I hadn’t even heard of half of the speakers who were attending the conference – however as I ‘googled’ them I was amazed and even more excited about attending.

Bella West was one of the international professional photographers invited to speak as well as tutor a portrait workshop. Bella was the first speaker on my program and as I listened to her talk, her love of photography, her unique portraiture style and her passion for mentoring others was uplifting and inspiring. She finished her presentation by showing us a slideshow of her personal work which included a project about the women of Rwanda. This was when I first saw “the image”. My reaction surprised me – my heart skipped a beat, my head was flooded with thoughts of light, destiny, pathways, journeys, courage and freedom. It’s hard to explain but I felt some kind of connection to that particular image. My physical response was goose bumps on my skin and silent tears as all those emotions swirled around inside me.


Bella’s one and a half hour speech and presentation had inspired me to continue chasing my dream, to produce fine art portraits. My hope is that one day someone will look at my art, as I had looked at Bella’s, and feel that same profound, emotional connection that inspires, encourages, and strengthens their beliefs about their journey in life.

Now more about the good cause. Each year the AIPP select a charity and go about raising as much money as possible for it. This year it was the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.  A Gala Dinner was put on for the final night of the conference and during the dinner an auction of prints was held to raise money for the nominated charity, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. There were 15 prints up for auction from various photographers of all genres. I wasn’t paying much attention to the formalities of the evening as I was sitting with a great group of fellow photographers, the lovely Jennifer Hudson was seated beside me and I was definitely feeling a little ‘awestruck’. It had been a huge 4 days of inspiration, learning, networking and socialising and I was content to just enjoy the moment. We all stopped our conversations as each auction got underway and we listened in anticipation as the bidding war took place and the final price was declared for each piece. Bella’s image came up on screen and I had that same skip of the heart and tingle through my body as I saw it and I felt as though I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I still had no intention of bidding on anything… The bidding continued and the price was creeping up and I was thinking to myself OMGoodness, why aren’t more people bidding on this, it is amazing. Then without even thinking about it I put my hand up – I had subconsciously decided I must have this print! The rest, as they say, is history. The signed, framed print was mine. It felt right, no, it felt ‘meant to be’. The AIPP collectively raised over $35,000 for Prostate Cancer during the Charity Print Auction! What a fantastic achievement.

I met with Bella after the auction and we chatted more about our passions and of course the print – the story behind it’s capture and about the woman standing in the doorway. It was quite surreal for me to be standing there talking with Bella, someone I admire so much, yet she is humble and so ‘down-to-earth’ and I loved every minute of it. I agreed to send her a picture of where the image would be displayed in my house.

blog-1469 Bella & I after the auction – picture taken on my iPhone 🙂

It took several weeks for the print to arrive on my doorstep and then it’s taken several more weeks for me to decide on the right position to display it. In the end I’ve put it in our lounge room knowing I will see it several times a day as I walk past it to go to my bedroom and I see it before stepping into my office.


Thank you Bella West. I feel truly grateful when I look at her (the image) and I am encouraged to keep walking my own pathway in life, wherever that happens to take me.

I’d also like to thank the AIPP for organising such a wonderful event and raising such a phenomenal amount of money for such a worthy cause.

Live. Love. Learn.

Sheryn Ellis, Portrait Photographer