Photography as an art

Michael Prodger in his article at The Guardian pose the question in his title – Photography: is it art? So far it has garnered 288 comments and reactions from readers. The discussion is lively and generally divided into two camps: yes, photography is an art, and no, it isn’t. I will not add to the discussion but will give an overview of the two camps’ opposing line of thoughts. Those who say “ay” reasons that photography is a means of expression therefore it is art. It is the creation and capture of beauty therefore it is art. Sixteen of the most expensive photographs ever sold ranged from one to over four million US dollars therefore they are artworks. Those who say “nay” counters that photographers can make lovely pictures but if they are not artists they can’t make works of art. Anyone can take pictures but not everyone can create an image of artistic value. My take on all of these? The photographer can learn to be an artist. That is why we have techniques and fundamentals to hone the photographer in his craft and elevate his images into the realms of art. On the other hand, the artist who becomes a photographer has a built-in advantage because he already has a grasp on the basics like design elements and composition. Oscar Wilde defines art as “the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” Photography is subjective, intuitive, instrospective, instinctive and highly personal – all traits of individualism. On that note, photography is art.


5 responses

  1. Among the “nay” answers I loved the one about the ease with which a photo can be reproduced. Couldn’t read the whole thread, but I’ve heard this argument before, to be met with: yes, but money is also easy to reproduce and no one would be willing to pay for a copy of a 20 pound note )

    November 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    • Junsjazz

      🙂 That’s true. Thank you for your thoughts. Well, I enjoyed the discussions as much as the article itself. Actually both sides have valid points and there really was no argument that photography is art. There were just issues that not all pictures taken qualify as art, well no doubt about that because no photographer (at least the casual majority including me) envisioned an artwork for every photo he took.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      • A recognised fashion photographer I knew some years ago once replied to the question of an amateur “picture-taker” on how to become a “big name” in this form of art in a very simple way: take pictures, all the time, everywhere, review them, look at them, evaluate them, think of them – BUT NEVER SHOW THEM TO ANYONE! )))

        November 9, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  2. If ‘we’ stand next to each other and take the same view/picture/scene using the similar cameras/setups and ‘you’ say ‘your’ work is art and ‘I’ say that it is not, what are ‘we’ to do?
    Somebody once suggested to me that ‘Art’ only existed as a commercial entity.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm

  3. Junsjazz

    Pictures are meant to be shared and shown to the world, now whether the audience will like them or not is another story. Not showing them to anyone is like keeping them in your own private safety for your own personal admiration and satisfaction. In other words “for your eyes” only. Why took a picture in the first place. But then there are people like that and their reason is beyond what we can fathom. Thanks again Artmoscow!

    Now for Stephen’s situational quandary. I’ll insist to high heavens that mine is an artwork because I use a Canon camera. Joke. The non-argumentative, civilized and gentlemanly me would invite you for a round of beer and talk art all afternoon. 🙂 Art is a commercial commodity – it is in exhibits, museums, auction houses to have a monetary value for the interest of the artist or his/her heirs. For me whose only claim to the high portals of art is a gallery page on a WordPress blog or a photo album on Facebook, it is the expression, burst of creativity that produce subjects of beauty…at the click of a shutter. Thanks!

    November 10, 2012 at 12:04 am

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