Blog #11 Is Photography Art?
"For 180-years, people have been asking the question: is photography art? At an early meeting of the Photographic Society of London, established in 1853, one of the members complained that the new technique was "too literal to compete with works of art" because it was unable to "elevate the imagination". This conception of photography as a mechanical recording medium never fully died away. Even by the 1960s and 70s, art photography – the idea that photographs could capture more than just surface appearances – was, in the words of the photographer Jeff Wall, a "photo ghetto" of niche galleries, aficionados and publications."
According to Wikipedia,
"Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities, usually involving imaginative or technical skill. In their most general form these activities include the production of works of art, the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art. This article focuses primarily on the visual arts, which includes the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art
There are papers on Seeing to improve yourself as a photography artist http://petapixel.com/2015/03/16/seeing-is-the-essence-of-photography-and-you-can-learn-to-do-it-better, and from other popular sources of photography education http://digital-photography-school.com/10-tips-help-grow-artist-photography.
What defines art or an artist for that matter? If there are schools that have degree programs in a subject, would that qualify that subject as art? Most would agree and there is no shortage of B.A., B.F.A, M.A., and M.F.A. degree programs from accredited colleges and universities. After a quick search online one can find Ph.D. programs in arts and photography! Who knew? http://study.com/articles/PhD_in_Photography_Overview_of_Photography_Doctoral_Programs.html
If there are clubs, or organisations of photography degree holders, does that qualify photography as art? Oh, I know! How about if photographs are sold in galleries that also occasionally sell oil paintings, sculptures, and other types of "real" art? Oh, and how about if someone drops like £2.7 million on a photograph like they did in 2011 for Rhein II By Andreas Gursk? I would LOVE to hear what some of those photography-aint-no-art nay-sayers would say about that.
To me, photography sure FEELS like art. It's complicated, difficult, there are many crap days, some good days (mostly crap days), and I feel very passionate about "getting it right" and upset with myself for not "getting it right". Is this what art is supposed to feel like? My mother is a painter, and went to RISD art school for fine art painting. She's been an abstract painter longer than I've been alive. I have watched her paint, make some beautiful pieces, have art shows, sell some works, stop painting for long periods of time, then do it again, change to interior design, then go to sculpture, then go back to painting. These days, at the ripe old age of 70 she's showing pieces in museums! People liked her stuff in the 1980's and they LOVE it now. The point is that it's work-in-progress, for fun, career, or otherwise, and I think we can all relate to that. There are ups and downs such as with life. Photography is the same. We just use light as our medium (paper, or screens, or both). Instead of a brush, we use a lightproof box.
Is photography art? Ask a photographer. If it looks like art, and it feels like art, then it is.