Is Photography an Art or a Craft

By October 19, 2015Photography Topics
The art of seeing
The art of seeing

The art of seeing

This is an age old debate and has been around since photography began about 180 years ago. It is unlikely that anything that anyone has to say about the subject is original. I believe that photography can be art but it is definitely requires both aspects. Whether it is art, or not, for you will depend on your personal perspective. Take a look at the top ten most expensive photographs ever sold at the following URL. It is hard to see why some of them reached such astronomical prices but I suspect that the name and fame of the photographer has a lot to do with it.

My photograph above is the art of seeing and the craft of capture but if it is art it is natures art.

First let’s step back and say that in the same way that not all drawn pictures are accepted by everyone as being art. My feeling is that if an individual considers a picture art then it is art for them and the same goes for a photograph. Thank goodness we all have different taste or we would all like the same things.

I don’t pretend to be an art critic as I do not know much about it but I have and do study the photography of many people. What is clear is that the vast majority of images are little more than record photographs. These are pictures that are taken and not made!

Some of the arguments against photography being an art:

  • The Camera does most of the work. With many pictures the only action on the photographer’s part is to frame and press the shutter. Mobile phone cameras and most cameras will do everything else automatically, hence the result is a mindless record of what is in front of the camera.
  • The repeatability of photographs leaves them with less potential value than an original painting. This is both because one negative can be reproduced in an almost unlimited way. It also speaks to the ability of people to copy some photographs made by others. They can go to the same venue and setting up to take a very similar photo.
  • Photoshop type software allows people to alter what is in the image in a way that even some photographers find too easy.

Some of the arguments for photography being an art:

  • There is a huge market in many parts of the world for fine art photography with some images achieving astronomical prices.
  • Many respected art galleries have photographic exhibitions.
  • Work done on photographs after they are taken can require highly skilled use of software and computer drawing skills.
  • Photography comprises many genres as does conventional art and with many of these there is a necessity to set-up or create a scene with all aspects of photography carefully considered and taken into account. The photographer has to use his or her creativity before the capture of the image while a traditional artist can make it up as they are painting and can take as long as they like to do so. Photography is capturing the moment and is referred to as painting with light.
  • Whether old photos or modern some images just stand out as special and there is no one reason for this but usually it is a combination of the photographers technical and artistic abilities.
  • In China there are ‘art factories’ where there is a production line with people adding as little as one brush stroke to the picture before passing it on to the next person. The end result may be pleasing to the eye but is it art? I think much less so than a great photograph.

There are many other points to debate and it is a subjective and individual decision. Although some artists and art critics think that it is their preserve to decide what is art each person has the right to make up their own mind.  If one person other than the photographer thinks it is art then it most certainly is for them.

Have a look at these URLs for more views on the subject and make sure you look at the work of the photographers that are mentioned:

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