It is currently Mon 25 May 2020 22:05 GMT
Change font size

Photographers and Artists

Is Photography Art?

Looks like we have a few photographers and artists in our midst so here's a place to talk about all photography, art, and related subjects.

Is Photography Art?

Postby CustomStrat » Tue 2 Sep 2003 20:29 GMT

Many light years ago in a galaxy far away, when I was studying commerical photography, someone asked me if I thought photography was art. At the time I was convinced that it was but over the years, since, I came to the conclusion that it isn't. Essentially, because art is about creation and the photographer doesn't create. It takes an artistic sensibility to know what to point the camera at and when to trip the shutter but the photographer is merely recognising and capturing a moment. Even when a photographer is setting up an image (eg in advertising) the end result is still just a photograph, a reflection of that momentary reality, a secondhand memory of that instant.

Most people have some degree of artistic sensibility. We can look at a Rembrandt and know that it's brilliant. Thus, I believe, almost anyone can be trained to be a photographer but it is something deeper to be an artist...

Whadya think?
I'm not afraid to die; I just don't want to be there when it happens - Woody Allen
Posted by:
CustomStrat
Supporter
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon 30 Jun 2003 04:56 GMT
Location: Arkansas; originally from Reading

Postby Kay » Tue 2 Sep 2003 21:13 GMT

Good question, Strat.

More years ago than I care to remember, my best mate was at art school, and I was an accountancy student. :oops:

I liked to paint and even managed to sell a few things, which helped a lot. As you can imagine, a student needs every little bit of money they can get.

I bought my Canon AE1 with the purpose of helping me in my interest in art. I bought it on credit and it took me several years to pay for it.

As it turned out, I failed as a trainee chartered accountant and ended up working as a freelance journo and photographer.

Maybe I should've gone for what interested me, but I had the idea that I had to do stuff just to get me a good job. Well, my acccountancy did get me places but I've ditched it now and look forward to the day when I can pay someone else to do that kind of thing.

And BTW britishexpat.com was created as a little hobby of mine because I couldn't get published by any magazines because I didn't have a track record of being published.

I did used to write, but these days I seem to spend my time contolling the empire. :?

Back to the subject you raised: is photography art? Yes. It is. Anyone can snap a picture of something - but to capture or create an image which has some kind of impact on people, I think that's art.

Kay
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
Posted by:
User avatar
Kay
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15338
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 13:06 GMT
Location: Kent for a couple of years

Postby CustomStrat » Wed 3 Sep 2003 00:33 GMT

But what does the photographer do to "create" the image? A little darkroom chicanery (or these days, PhotoShop) may turn a sows ear into a silk purse but if the photographer is simply reflecting a momentary reality how is that art? Isn't art the creation of something out of nothing? Anyone can strum a chord on a guitar or get a noise out of a clarinet but surely only a musician can create a piece of music? To take an idea, a concept never thought of before and to make it reality. I tend to think a good photographer has to be something of an artist (which is what makes the differance between a "pro" and an "amateur") but I don't consider photography to be any more than an art form, form of art; but not pure Art.
I'm not afraid to die; I just don't want to be there when it happens - Woody Allen
Posted by:
CustomStrat
Supporter
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon 30 Jun 2003 04:56 GMT
Location: Arkansas; originally from Reading

Postby Victor » Wed 3 Sep 2003 07:17 GMT

But cant you say the same of a Turner or some of the other great artists? They didnt create what they saw, they just captured it with paint on a canvas. Like wise, a photographer doesnt create what he see, he just captures it on paper (or digitally).

Whats the differenced?

The art lies in capturing the image, egal how.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
Victor
Free member
 
Posts: 380
Joined: Thu 3 Jul 2003 00:05 GMT
Location: Munich (D), Drapanos (GR) & Banitza (BG)

Postby Terry » Wed 3 Sep 2003 09:38 GMT

egal how.


You've been in Germany too long mate!
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
Terry
Free member
 
Posts: 204
Joined: Thu 22 May 2003 09:11 GMT
Location: Köln Germany

Postby Kay » Wed 3 Sep 2003 10:39 GMT

egal how.


You've been in Germany too long mate!


D'oh! And there was me trying to figure out if it was a typo.

Back to Strat's point - I guess it depends on how you define "art". Is a pile of bricks or an unmade bed art? Some would say it is. Going to the other extreme, accountancy is an art rather than a science.

I think photography can be art depending on the context. A family or holiday snapshot isn't art. It's just a snap. But some pictures, if for example they are inspiring, beautiful or moving. Then that for me is art.

One of the pictures I took recently, which I really like, is of a towel stall at our local market. They have great bundles of brightly coloured towels and they sell them by the kilo. I took my time in composing the image of a towel on the scales. The composition is the art in it. Anyone can snap a towel on weighing scales, so what? But not everyone would have seen the lines, shapes, and colours in the same way as I did, thus creating an almost abstract image from an every day transaction.

I really must get around to uploading some of my photos. Some are just for information eg pictures of places in Delhi. But out of, say, every 50 there might be two or three which I'm quite proud of. How about you?

Cheers

Kay
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
Posted by:
User avatar
Kay
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15338
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 13:06 GMT
Location: Kent for a couple of years

Postby CustomStrat » Wed 3 Sep 2003 16:27 GMT

Victor wrote:But cant you say the same of a Turner or some of the other great artists? They didnt create what they saw, they just captured it with paint on a canvas. Like wise, a photographer doesnt create what he see, he just captures it on paper (or digitally).


Personally, I don't think someone like Turner merely captured what he saw; he interpreted it. A painting like "The Fighting Temeraire" is "representational" but no camera could take a picture like that.
Image It is an impression (long before Monet) that evokes the emotion of the artist at the passing of an era. And his painting of "Noreham Castle" could hardly be called "photographic"
Image It's abstraction could virtually be called the expression of a personal vision rather than a representation.

Now, someone like Ingres painted so tightly that he might as well have been using a camera (if it had been invented, yet)


Image
But, isn't that why his work is so unfulfilling? It's nothing more than a mirror thoroughly devoid of emotion or insight into the artist's intention. To me this is akin to Kay's holiday snapshot. It's just a painting. But it did take a specific skill to conjure this image... Is Ingres an artist or merely a highly skilled artisan?

When Kay speaks of a photograph being inspiring, beautiful or moving she speaks of the emotional content that she receives from the image. As she indicates, a very key component of what makes any image (painted or photographed) work is composition. That, to me, is where the artistic sensibility comes into play. But that sensibility is pretty much universal. If Kay takes a beautifully composed photo of a market towel stall the rest of us will see the beauty of it through our own artistic sensibility as oppossed to the hastily snapped tourist pic.

FWIW, to me, it takes an artist to be a great photographer but photography is a mechanical craft, not an art. It's an acquired skill, not an inbred talent...
I'm not afraid to die; I just don't want to be there when it happens - Woody Allen
Posted by:
CustomStrat
Supporter
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon 30 Jun 2003 04:56 GMT
Location: Arkansas; originally from Reading

Postby días-idílicos » Wed 3 Sep 2003 19:20 GMT

Interesting subject CustomStrat. I *think* I agree with you in as much as a photographer can drop an f-stop or two, make a film stock choice etc etc and all that is technical knowledge, rather than artistic ability.

When I look at a photo, I may think it is a well compose shot etc., but I don't 'emotionally' think of it as art, where as I do with a canvas. Digi techniques I never think of as art, just (sometimes clever) knowledge or a piece of software.

Now me bashing out a few minor chords on my Takemine, is definately not art :?

días-i
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
días-idílicos
Free member
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun 6 Jul 2003 01:53 GMT
Location: L'Afaz y Busot, Alicant, España

Postby CustomStrat » Wed 3 Sep 2003 20:17 GMT

días-idílicos wrote:Now me bashing out a few minor chords on my Takemine, is definately not art :? días-i


Not if you're trying to play some old Cat Stevens tune but it is if what you're playing is totally spontaneous and improvised. It's all about originality, isn't it? If it comes out of you it's art; if it comes through you it's reflection... :wink:
I'm not afraid to die; I just don't want to be there when it happens - Woody Allen
Posted by:
CustomStrat
Supporter
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Mon 30 Jun 2003 04:56 GMT
Location: Arkansas; originally from Reading

Postby días-idílicos » Thu 4 Sep 2003 05:02 GMT

CustomStrat wrote:Not if you're trying to play some old Cat Stevens tune


Now don't be insulting :wink:

It' reminds me, I once won a photgraphic competition and part of the prize was to have the photo reproduced by an artist in water colour.

It's the painting that hangs on my wall, not my original photo :!:
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
días-idílicos
Free member
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun 6 Jul 2003 01:53 GMT
Location: L'Afaz y Busot, Alicant, España

Postby Victor » Thu 4 Sep 2003 12:10 GMT

Whilst I can see CostomStrats point of view, I can't say I agree. The "Noreham Castle" does nothing for me. Its just a blob of colour! I cant say I like impressionistic art, in general, no matter what the medium is.

Of course the artist must interpret what he sees, as does the photographer. It must also be said that both painting and photography are learnt and must be practised, but at the same time you must have a certain aptitude to produce good work. For example of what I mean, give a paint brush to my sister and to me. She would produce a good picture, I wouldn't be able to produce a thing that was recognisable, given the same object to record. Likewise, give a camera to say Bailey and to me. Who would produce the best record. Not me. Why? I'm not of an artistic nature. I have learnt to use a camera, but not a paint brush, but I don't think you can learn to have an artistic aptitude.

My sister is a good artist, (as was my grand father,) and she is currently doing work based on melted wax, creating almost alien landscapes. I don't like them a bit. On the other hand, she has created some fantastic drawings in watercolours which could almost be photographs. Art appreciation lies in the eye of the holder. Thats why there are so many different styles, and all of them work, at least for different people.

Therefore I say the photography is an art and the art lies in the ability to interpret a picture and record it in a good way. A good way can also be an abstract way, like Kay's coloured towels, a documentary "fact" type way or an impressionistic way maybe using filters and in camera techniques.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
Victor
Free member
 
Posts: 380
Joined: Thu 3 Jul 2003 00:05 GMT
Location: Munich (D), Drapanos (GR) & Banitza (BG)

Postby días-idílicos » Thu 4 Sep 2003 14:33 GMT

I think this seems to have arrived at the point where it can be said that the individuals perception of what is or isn’t art is just as valid for the technique used (brush, camera or whatever) as it is for the topic/subject of the end product. Naturally I guess, as we are all individuals.

I still ‘personally’, ere on the ‘brush over camera’ view even though the Noreham Castle does nothing for me either. But perhaps that is because it looks more like something I could do with a digi-cam and editing software!.

Possibly a point here is, much of the end result from a camera is down to the ‘artistry’ (if you will) of the designer/manufacturer of the actual camera, film stock, software house, etc etc. which isn’t meant to decry the skills of the photographer, more to get back to, or adds to, Customs point that a photo is never really all the photographers ‘own work’.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
días-idílicos
Free member
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun 6 Jul 2003 01:53 GMT
Location: L'Afaz y Busot, Alicant, España

Postby Victor » Thu 4 Sep 2003 15:24 GMT

días-idílicos wrote:Possibly a point here is, much of the end result from a camera is down to the ‘artistry’ (if you will) of the designer/manufacturer of the actual camera, film stock, software house, etc etc. which isn’t meant to decry the skills of the photographer, more to get back to, or adds to, Customs point that a photo is never really all the photographers ‘own work’.


Not really. If I buy the best possible camera, budget unlimited, best optics, fully point and shoot no user action required except press the button, but I dont have an eye for a good picture, the results will be as bad as if a cheap thing had been used. It may be sharper and corrctly exposed, but thats all.

A good photographer can get an exceptional picture from a basic (even a pinhole!) camera.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
Victor
Free member
 
Posts: 380
Joined: Thu 3 Jul 2003 00:05 GMT
Location: Munich (D), Drapanos (GR) & Banitza (BG)

Postby días-idílicos » Thu 4 Sep 2003 16:38 GMT

Victor wrote:A good photographer can get an exceptional picture from a basic (even a pinhole!) camera.


Personally I disagree. If you where to use (taking your example) a ‘pinhole’ camera the result would more likely be atmospheric or vignette which would again be down to the camera. This is NOT saying that it couldn’t be a good picture, just a result of the equipment and subject/topic captured by the equipment.

But I go back to my own personal view in that I believe the medium itself is as much an individual perception of what is art as is the end result.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
días-idílicos
Free member
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun 6 Jul 2003 01:53 GMT
Location: L'Afaz y Busot, Alicant, España

Postby chabrenas » Fri 5 Sep 2003 18:28 GMT

For me, the medium is irrelevant. Prehistoric cave paintings, Greek statues (they were PAINTED originally, which would make them seem tacky to most of us nowadays), pre-Raphaelite or Impressionist paintings, Picasso, Miro, daguerrotype, direct printing, black & white photography, colour photography, digital editing of photographic images, William Latham's dynamic computer art (the inspiration for the screensaver in my 'Raindrops' short story), and media we cannot even dream of today.

For me, art must stir some kind of emotion - which is why I see the pile of bricks at the Tate many years ago as a cheeky, "emperor's new clothes" con trick rather than art. Two or three of you have actually been pro photographers for a while. Did you ever study the work of people like Werner Bischof, who started out as a fine artist (in photography because there was no room on the painting course) but changed to photojournalism after WW II. His pictures of the aftermath of WW II and of famine in India are just as much art as Guernica is.

For me, the two Turner paintings you show are very similar. I don't know if Ingres ever painted 'real' art, but the picture you show is clearly in response to a customer's need for a picture of his wife that shows her as the sort of person you could take to a ball or formal dinner without attracting the wrong kind of attention. He had no intention of betraying anything of her character, assuming he knew anything about it. The vast majority of photo studio portraits taken today fall into the same category.

Kay, if you are proud of 3 out of every 50 of the pics you have bothered to keep, you're doing well. Is there a common characteristic to the pictures you're proud of? For me, it is when I manage to evoke a mood, even if the picture is technically quite poor. Let me go offline for a while and upload a couple of examples to my web site so that I can show you what I mean.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
chabrenas
Free member
 
Posts: 762
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 17:41 GMT
Location: France

Next

Return to Photographers and Artists



cron