Is Photography Art?

By: Jack Brittain

Is photography art? That is a question that has been going around my head for the last 2 months. I have read some articles, asked people’s opinions and kicked the question around in many different ways. Depending on the article you read or the person you ask; the answers are: photography is art, photography is not art or who cares.

Well now that I have pondered this for long enough I have concluded that photography is not art. I have also concluded that the different forms of painting are not art, music is not art and sculpting is not art, etc.. As you read this article you are probably saying what about Vermeer, D’Angelo, Picasso, Da Vinci, Mozart, Ansel Adams and the list goes on for hours. I believe they are all artists, but that does not make all paintings, sculptures, music or photography art. I believe that the few people I mentioned here were artists and most of their works were art.

The main thing I concluded while reading all of these articles and having my discussions is that an artist can create art with any tool that they choose to use but not everyone who uses the same tool can create art. This is why I say photography, painting, sculpting, etc. is not art because it implies all photography, painting, sculpting, etc. is art.

Art is something that is created with imagination and skill and is beautiful or expresses important ideas or feelings. Art is also personal. What is art to me is not art to my family or to my friends but great art is something that multiple people enjoy and appreciate.

We need to separate the tools that create art from the artist and the art created. I highly doubt that a person like Da Vinci could learn how to use a camera and create an artistic photo. He understood shapes, light, shadows, and perspective, He would be able to take a photo that would have all the qualities to make it art.

One of the biggest arguments I hear against photography being art is that it is too easy to create a photograph. There is no question in my mind that I can create a photograph much faster than I can paint the same picture. Does that then make the photograph not art but the painting art because of the time it takes to create? That is absurd, if it was all about time then non artistic people could just paint slower to make art. What I do agree with though is that since photographs are faster to create there are definitely a higher ratio of non-artistic photos to artistic photos and to me that makes those artistic photos even more special. It’s the rare bird that the bird watcher hunts for not the common sparrow or starling.

The next time you look at a photo and you say wow this is very imaginative, it looks so interesting/peaceful/frightening, what a great photo. You are probably looking at art.