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some people take picture,

others make photographs

To me photography is an art

PS: i also hold a BFA in Photography (lot of good that did me ) :-)

In a lavatory cubicle at our art college, someone had written "Bfa degree, take one" with an arrow pointing to the toilet paper dispenser.

We all knew there was some truth to it.

well all the good i got out of it was teaching one semester at the art institue in San Miguel Allende :-)

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I think that in order to determine whether photography is art, we have to define art. As I see it, Art is emotional communication. Art strives to make one feel. It does not necessarily strive to ma

Recently, I re-read an interesting article by noted photographer Guy Tal (you can read here Words Matter ). Guy talks about the tendency for people to separate photography from the arts. Even in our own forum we see this occur as the title of the forum is "Photography and the Arts". Now I believe that the meaning of this forum was to include photography into the other arts but we often see the two being spoken of as separate.

So, what is your feeling about this? Is it art or something else? If it is art, is there freedom to use artistic license in the making of a photograph?

I am very interested to hear your views on this.

Many thanks in advance,


I think that in order to determine whether photography is art, we have to define art.

As I see it, Art is emotional communication. Art strives to make one feel. It does not necessarily strive to make you feel good, sometimes it tries to disturb you, uplift you, depress you, but in every case, art tries to emotionally touch you in some way or another. Music is art because it is auditory emotional communication, painting is art because it's visual emotional communication. Photography is a visual medium, therefore, it can be art if it touches the viewer emotionally.

Photography doesn't cease to be art simply because its medium is accessible. Art doesn't need to be exclusive, difficult to produce or expensive. It simply needs to make the viewer feel something.

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It seems to me that photography can be an art or a science, or if one is really good enough, the two strands become so entwined that photography then becomes the much-improved output of their combination. This has been said far more eloquent posts than I can manage, and with far more in-depth understanding of the subject, but nevertheless, I'll throw my opinion out there for what it's worth, and lay bare before you all my gross ignorance..

In its artistic form, photography (IMHO) in concerned with the aesthetics of the finished product. The artistic photographer is on a higher plane than the snapper, having a plan or at the very least the seeds of an idea of what he/she wants to achieve in the photograph. The snapper, on the other hand takes repetitive shots that have little content or merit that focuses one's attention and makes one think about and appreciate that photograph and the photographer's intended 'message'.

The scientific element, at least in my mind (....or sadly not in my case!), is the understanding and manipulation of the proerties of light and the similar understanding and use of technical aspects of the various equipment to hand. This is definitely not art, it is science...the physics of light, lenses, and the like (to me, same same!)

So we could put the two approaches together in a portrait... the artistic photographer chooses the model, the setting, the angles to achieve the finished product, whilst the more scientific photographer considers enhancing the effect with the choice of lens, lighting, exposure etc.

I cannot draw, but I like to delude myself from time to time and think that I occasionally have an eye for a "good" photograph. Sometimes I look at the result and feel pleased, as there is an element that catches they eye drawing one in, but the path to that success is littered with failed attempts. Maybe I really do need to learn the witchcraft of the scientific approach to improve my efforts.

So it would seem from this unedited ramble that I am fence-sitting. It is not possible to produce a good photograph without some artistic ability, but without the scientific approach to manipulating the camera's technical abilities, one is most unlikely to produce an excellent photograph.

These are the things that influence me when dishing out 'likes'.... does a photograph grab my attention via its artistic content, and if so, I enjoy studying it to think about what the photographer has seen in the scene and how the photograph was composed. There are other photographs I look at that make me wish the forum had an "I hate you, I am so jealous of your technical expertise" button. This envy usually arises when one of you has used your technical talents to take that shot that stands out head and shoulders above the rest....no names given....but thank you for giving me your achievements to which I can aspire.

Not getting a like on a photograph makes me thing "well, I liked it, so why didn't others like it too? Why didn't they see what I saw? How can I convey the message better next time?" The possible answers may be spread across the composition or the technical...across the art and the science of photography. (But don't let my potential education hold you back from giving likes!! tongue.png )

Of course, then there is luck...... and the other essential element of enthusiasm.

........and all that before my first coffee of the day! coffee1.gif

EDITED after all, to remove horrendous typos. Rob is now retiring to get a double-shot coffee....

Edited by Rob8891
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I like your point about the technical expertise, Hansum Dog.

Makes me think of balance. No doubt someone could be just as creative and as expressive even if they held the camera the first time. Same with any tool - guitar or paintbrush. But perhaps their work will lack skill and will fail to translate their thoughts and emotions efficiently onto the viewer.

On the other hand a lot of people in creative communities are focusing on skill so much that all the creativity goes out of the window. I noticed it with music, esp. with shredders, who's goal is to produce an enormous amount of notes per second to beat the other guy. The same guys are usually quite well educated in the music theory. But in the end it still ends up an athletic competition rather than creative endeavour.

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I think this is a very interesting discussion.   

I have not seen it before, I just found it digging a little bit deeper in the archives. 

Maybe we will get some new ideas if photography is art or not. 



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depends what art is. to me there is art and there is craft. art to me is something new that people often find disturbing because they dont understand it, but later on, if its really art, is imitated, which is craft. 

for example, choose any famous painting, that is art, but something done in that style or even an exact copy is craft. 

I would say that at this period of history, most photography is not art, but most art (visual) is photography. history decides (or maybe likes these days).

but all that is pretty meaningless. art is matter of taste and everyone is different 

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