While fine art photography can be traced back to the Victorian era, the fascination really developed in the early 1900s when Alfred Stieglitz introduced fine art photography into museum collections.
It’s not always easy to tell a photograph’s relative value — historical and technical relevance are often considered.
Quiz: Which of these three photographs sold for the most?
Kremlin of Tobolsk was taken in 2009 by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. Tobolsk is the capital of Siberia and the kremlin is one of the last standing in all of Russia and Siberia. Taken from the air to mimic the style of old master painters, the photo collected $1,750,000 at a charity auction in 2010.
And the other two? Well they’re perhaps even more recognizable, although they sold for less.
A – Moonrise, Hernandez 1941 by Ansel Adams. Possibly one of Adams’ most recognizable photos taken in New Mexico on the way back from a day of photographing. Famously, Adams glanced the scene from his car and pulled over. Losing light, there was no time to take a proper exposure reading, so he figured out his settings based on what he knew of the relative brightness of the moon. It sold for $609,600 in 2006.
C – The Great Wave, Sete 1857 by Gustave Le Gray. One of the earliest forms of high dynamic range processing – Le Gray took two exposures and printed one picture to get a good balance between the bright sky and the dark landscape. It sold for $838,000 in 1999.