I would like to take the opportunity to address a few things, or terms, that I see used way too freely in the photography community. The terms are “fine art” and “heirloom.”

Some creatives get way too wrapped up in trying to be unique or trying to stand out that they make far-reaching statements that have no basis in truth. In turn, clients who don’t know the difference are misled and oftentimes dissatisfied with the results they paid for. Ultimately, everyone in the photography industry gets a bad rap. Just because someone says that something is fine art or that it’s an heirloom doesn’t make it so.

Words Photographers Use Too Much: Fine Art & Heirloom

fine art

Fine Art

creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.
“the convergence of popular culture and fine art”

an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment.

I think the word that should be used in many of these instances is “art”—only art. Not only is art subjective, but I’m pretty convinced even my eight-month-old grandson could make art. Not every creative on the planet has the skillset to make fine art.

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Even I, someone who has been shooting weddings and portraits since 2010 and who has received instruction from some of the greatest wedding and portrait photographers in the world, do not consider myself a fine art photographer. Sure, on occasion my stars and planets line up and I happen to get everything nearly perfect: posing, emotion, composition, light, and then spend upwards of two, three, or four hours post-processing that single image… I might consider that one solitary capture from the entire session a fine art portrait… but I would never classify myself as a fine art wedding photographer. It takes incredible skill and to self-anoint myself with such a letter-perfect title is insulting to all the legitimate, bona fide fine art photographers.

If you want to see what a fine art portrait artist looks like, check out a few of these: Luke Edmondson, Kelly Brown, Cheryl Walsh.


a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.
“the violin was a family heirloom”

The album your photographer ordered today by noon that will be delivered to their doorstep tomorrow by noon will not be an heirloom.

Album pages made on a press printing machine will not become an heirloom.

Album images that will start to fade and discolor within a year will not become an heirloom.

The album which has pages enhanced with optical brightening agents (OBAs—like the kind used in newspapers) will not be an heirloom.

An album that is glued together and in a matter of a year or two will leak out and glue multiple pages together will not be an heirloom.

The album maker who holds no patents or doesn’t use any proprietary technology to handcraft your album is not making an heirloom album.

Yes, I know your albums are precious to you because they hold some very dear memories in them. But unless it is actually an heirloom album, it will not be around for your future generations. Sad truth.

For comparison purposes, the albums I print for my couples have an image permanence rating of 300+ years (and a limited lifetime guarantee). If you want to know more about heirloom albums, click here.


The next time you hear “fine art” and “heirloom,” let that be a trigger for you to do a little digging and research. Don’t be duped into buying something or spending more just because you hear these words.

Let’s “hangout!” I wanna hear about your love story!

Schedule a virtual or in-person discovery meetup!
For more options, visit my “Let’s Connect” page.

About Ata-Girl

I am a San Antonio-based wedding photographer and I cater to outdoor-loving couples who prefer to have all the realness captured on their wedding days. I am the wedding photographer for the outdoor adventurers, the romantics, the laid back, the snugglers, and those who wish to capture all their realness.

I am absolutely in love with capturing the kinds of weddings where there are more hugs than handshakes, the dance floor rumbles all night long, and chairs are pretty much rendered useless after dinner. Whiskey bottles are passed around, most of the wedding party has been best-best friends since kindergarten, Grams is likely to lose her shoes and your partner is much more emotional than you are. These kinds of weddings are my jam!

You can always call or text, but if you really want to get to know me, schedule a meetup!

I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journeys and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.

If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to get your hands on 20 FREE interactive wedding planning tools that every couple needs, please take a moment to access them here.

I am a published author (purchase my book here), a podcast host (listen here) (watch here) and a WPPI-C certified professional, full-time wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.

When I’m not behind my camera, you can find me hiking, cycling, backpacking, camping, enjoying water sports, listening to music (Elvis and Prince), hunting for arrowheads, reading audiobooks, occasionally eating a few glazed donuts (my only weakness to sweets) and then re-starting my keto diet about every 10 days. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of.

The post, Words Photographers Use Too Much: Fine Art & Heirloom, first appeared on Ata-Girl Photography Co.’s website and blog. Please feel free to comment here, or share this post with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Please email me if you have any questions about this article or want to share a neat idea for a future blog post with me.