March 23, 2006

Photography Vs Art

Recently I had a debate with a painter friend of mine about what is constituted as art and where photography stands in the art world. “Photography isn’t art” he stated. “Everyone can do it and it is not difficult to do, you pick up a camera and shoot. Especially with digital photography, there is just plain nothing to it.” I came back with it depends on how the photograph is prepared, the intention of the photographer, and how the work is displayed.

He then asked if I thought images from a newspaper or if I believed that wedding portraits are something that should be put up against a painting, a sculpture, or even a drawing. Again I stated that it all depends on the photographer and what the intentions are. Is the photographer is planning to show the work to the public, how much emotion is invoked into the intended audience, or what stories can be told from the particular image.

I agreed that consumer photography should not be considered an art form because most people take the picture and store them away forever. Even commercial photography should not be considered because it separates the photographer from the image; meaning that someone tells the photographer what they want, giving the photographer very little freedom or control. I then told him, the same goes with a painting….if an art director says to a painter I want this and I want you to change this and get rid of that; now, the element of self is taken out of the painting and you now have a mechanical element rather than an artistic element.

To me, art is the expression of ones self and how it is portrayed by the artist. When you bring in any other input to your work… is no longer yours, and thus is no longer art. I guess that is why I never got into journalism…. When somebody tells you what to shoot, the only element the photographer brings to the table is the element of composition and the ability to be able to control the camera.

I again, believe the same for any so called art styles such as sculpting, painting, and drawing. When your art director tells a painter to paint anything, you now have lost a large portion of what is considered to be the freedom of expression.

What do you consider art?



Raven said...

Those photos at the end are wonderful.
I came across this because I googled “Photography vs. Art.”
I am an amateur photographer and my sister is an amateur artist and today she decides to start talking about how photography isn’t real art because ‘the camera does all the work.’
I just needed to hear something that wasn’t written by some pompous water-color-er.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome. This is what I've been saying to my friends for years. Next year I hope to go to photography school and prove them all wrong. I've already done a pretty good job at getting them to see that photography IS art. :)

テイン'' said...

Hi, I'm an Arts management student from Singapore. I would like to interview you for a school project to debate photography vs art. Do contact me at Thank you