Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Photography Is Art

It has come to my attention recently that some people have a hard time accepting the idea that photography is art. I want to address this by doing a comparison between photography and drawing or painting.

To take an artistic photograph first and foremost you have to understand what makes a good composition. An illustrator or painter will also first establish their composition before rendering their subject. A photographer needs to understand how light and shadow will affect their subject and make choices based on their desired outcome. Is that not what all artists do? Most of all, like any artist, a photographer needs to learn to "see" how line, form, color, texture, value & perspective relate to each other and influence the image they are trying to capture. All of this does not happen just because you point and shoot any more than it would happen just
because you put paint on a canvas.
If you draw or paint you have probably had to spend some time getting to know your medium and materials. In the same way a photographer has to get to know their camera. Just because it's expensive or fancy doesn't mean it does all the work. Do the most expensive paint & brushes paint by themselves? There may be other things photographers consider while creating art, such as film or digital, black & white or color, edited & enhanced with software or not. Making these choices is similar to considering what type of canvas or paper to use, what type or drawing or painting materials to use and so forth. These choices my be made for a wide variety of reasons all relating to the artistic vision of the artist (or photographer).

Not every painting or drawing is great art, not every photograph is great art either. Some photographs are just snapshots, and some snapshots are good enough to be considered artistic. However I doubt that happens totally by chance, but more because the person who took the photo has an "artistic eye" and a good sense of timing. Photographers do need to be able to recognize the potential elements that are coming together at a certain place in time and get in place to capture it. Some people can do this very naturally, just as some people can draw because of natural talent.

Natural talent does not determine everything though. An illustrator or painter will get better at their art with study and practice just as a photographer will. All artists at times will make "fortunate mistakes" by allowing the creative process to guide the outcome of the work. Artistic photography is a creative process like any other, only the tools are different. Tools don't make art, people with an artistic vision & skill make art.

So that's the final word as far as I'm concerned - Photography is an Art - as much as painting, drawing, sculpture, collage or anything else is an art. I hope you agree. (Photograph & article by Cheryl Roth) 


Dee Lessard said...

Nice article Cheryl and great job on the blog overhaul. It looks awesome!!! I wish Guy would do some of this techi stuff for me!!!

Cheryl Roth said...

Thanks Dee, I'll help you if Guy wont, he's probably just too busy.