Usually I tend not to venture into very complex topics but due to a recent event, that took place at the gym I’m visiting, I decided to be brave and dive exploring the topic of:
Is Photography an Art?
So, as I mentioned above, everything started at the gym where I met a guy, with whom we usually tend to talk between the sets about different topics.
That same evening we were both finishing our workout and somehow the conversation shifted in direction – he, asking me what I do. I explained to him that I’m a professional photographer, with distinctive style of work and that my photography is more Art like oriented.
Not sure how passionately I was explaining all of this – but he told me:
“Look – please don’t get offended, but I don’t really find photography to be a form of art”
Off course I wasn’t offended by what he said, especially after the fact that he haven’t even seen my photography portfolio. However, his argument was about the skills involved in producing the final work of art. He went on giving me examples with painters, and how long takes them to develop and master their skills. Although I did get involved in replying to his arguments, I didn’t go the extra mile and dive deeper, defending the craft of photography.
I knew up to an extend, from his point of view, he was right for himself – but mainly due to the fact that he wasn’t well informed about the whole/general process of what it takes to create an Art.
What unite us as artists?
Regardless to the medium, artists use to create their artwork, there is something much more important than the technical skills or the medium involved in the artistry. The two driving forces which unite us all and make us create beauty are – Vision and Passion.
Yes, these two qualities are the defining strokes for anyone who wants to express or apply their creative urges – leading us to create work of Art.
But why people nowadays think photography is not a form of art?
Photography can be very versatile – ranging from commercial styles of photography, where the aim is to generate money and make customers happy (for what they asked, not letting you express your own creative vision) and all the way up to covering more artistically oriented styles and disciplines such as Landscape photography, Street photography, Travel photography, Creative portrait photography. The last styles are the ones that are more likely to produce photographs with higher artistic content and value – fulfilling, with its final result, our Vision and Passion.
Another problem now days is that lots of people, who just purchased their first camera, pretend/want to be photographers, the sort of photographers who jump straight into exploring how to make money out of photography (thinking it is a easy job) – before even learning and applying the core concepts of photography into the work they are attempting to create.
This is all fine, but also let’s not forget that if you are professional photographer and you need to sustain living out of your photography, I doubt in majority of the cases, Art will be the final product you’ll be creating – but rather what your customers need and ask you to create for them, according to what they can afford to spend – unless you are one of the, not many, fortunate well established selling fine art photographers.
Another reason for people dismissing Photography as an Art is the, let’s call it, easy access to technology, which literally alouds the ability for anyone to snap an image and share it instantaneously – just a second after the image has been captured, on social media and other platforms. There is no even need of professional camera to do this, now days we all have phones with built in cameras.
Following the above point, I think I shall be fair and not let alone photography bear the burden of modern life fast phase development and expansion. All art is pretty much affected by the same factors, easy/fast reproduction and access – which in a sense diminish the value and magic of any Art created now days. And in the photography industry the artist who suffer the most of this are the photographers offering Fine Art Photography Prints (this can take another blog post, as it is substantial topic, on its own, to be explored).
Many people participating the same craft.
There is also the moment where we just need to compare, for example, how many people were able to afford the time and resources to be an artist, of any kind, 200 years ago.
In modern times, economics allow us to afford to be something more than just people coping with surviving day by day.
Now, following this order of thoughts – I need to be honest and say, that the fact more people are able to develop their creative nature and be participating artist, also has the positive impact of rising the quality and versatility of artworks created.
So let see how we Photographers create an Art.
The main characteristics setting us apart from any other form of art is that, we photographers, capture moment in time in its actuality. While a painter, sculptor or in fact any other artist’s artwork, even if it was intended to recreate something accurate in existence, up to an degree, if not completely, will be representation and interpretation of their own imagination and vision.
So, one of the main differences is that a photographer need to find, see, evaluate, make available and explore the artistic potential of a scene, or perhaps a subject, before capturing it in a way that will meet the photographer’s artistic level and vision.
I will give an example, with one of my photographs – which belongs to my London street photography portfolio.
On the image you can see a scene, which pretty much resemble a scene of painting – where the artist have seen it in his/her mind. With the help of paint and brushes the painter will create something that, really, only exists as an imagination – even though it could’ve been inspired by moments which were part of the every day life of the artist.
Also a painter can be inspired to create a painting, based on the scene I captured in this image – but the problem here will be, if I get to be inspired by a painting, how could I make it happen in real life so I can captured as a photograph, and here comes the complex aspect of photography.
I will live this topic with the hope that more people could see and appreciate the beauty of photography and its artistic potential.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog, and in case you like to contribute to this post feel free to do so by posting your comments.