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Is photography art?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Chuck Pike, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    Have you ever walked along, with the camera at the ready, when something catches the eye, that you don’t know if you should take it or not? With digital that’s not a big issue, while with film it was, because of the cost of film. I was walking down the street in Wilmington, N.C. when I saw this mannequin with body parts on the floor. I don’t know if I had come on this before they were finished with the display or not. Something about it said that I should take the picture but I didn’t know how I would be able to use it. Later when I got home, I edited in Color Eflex Pro 4, using the solarization filter.

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    <object width="700" height="546"><param name="movie" value="http://www.photoshelter.com/swf/imgWidget.swf"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="FlashVars" value="i=I0000i.3vZSaBqms&b=1"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.photoshelter.com/swf/imgWidget.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowScriptAccess="true" FlashVars="i=I0000i.3vZSaBqms&b=1" allowfullscreen="true" width="700" height="546"></embed></object>

    When is photography art? That is a question that used to get a lot of coverage in the photo magazines. Artist said, that photography couldn’t be art, because anyone could pick up a camera and take photos, while an artist took years to learn. The artist Man Ray experimented with film and a process he called solarization. You took a print that was still in the developer and expose it for just a flip of the switch to the white light and you never really knew what the effect would be. I made a few of these in years past in the wet darkroom. Nice to know I can still do it in the computer. Not many of my shots lend themselves to this.

    Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
  2. Monza76

    Monza76 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 22, 2012
    I don't know how to answer that since there are so many different views and interpretations. I think it was Chris Weeks who described himself as a painter with ADD. Any thoughtfully composed photo can be art, the key here being the "thoughtfully" part. Many argue that modern art often has no evidence of skill and craft and that any true art has to be a product of some mastery of the medium. We can all produce "accidental art", the snapshot that has all of the elements even though no real skill was involved, just blind luck. It is the ability to produce images that move people, not by their poignant subject matter but by the skilled composition of the photographer that produces real art.

    Now having said all that I must admit that I actually don't have a clue.
  3. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Artists who said photography could not be an art because art takes years to learn demonstrated more their ignorance of photographic craft than anything else. Anyone here think they can take an Ansel Adams negative and get his printed results without years of darkroom experience? Anyone can pick up a paint brush too, smear something on a flat service and say, Voilà! My art. Or nail together some boards and call it a sculpture.

    Anyone who thinks making a fine photographic print is simply about pressing a button on a computer or making an uninformed exposure of paper to light and then sloshing it through chemistry is simply not worth listening to on the subject.

    On the other hand, I long ago stopped caring whether this or that was considered an art or not. If it moves the human spirit, causes people to identify with one another, gives us enough pause to stop and look -- really look -- at the world around us, I don't care what anyone wants to call it. But anyone denying the skill of the CRAFT of photography will really piss me off.
  4. Paul Amyes

    Paul Amyes Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    Hobart, Tasmania
    Well I suppose you have to have a definition of what art actually is. In it's broadest meaning art is anything that is formed by the hand of man. I actually believe that all people are inately artists. Just look at how young children play with concepts and mediums as they learn. Unfortunately in our society it is not valued and the vast majority of people are disuaded from any form of creative play fairly quickly and by early adulthood they have stopped doing creative things.
    I don't think that is what you mean here. I think, please correct if me if I'm wrong, that you are taking a very narrow definition of what art is, the elitist high art view. I think really others are more qualified to speak here,, but basically if such instutions as MOMA in New York consider photography art then it is indeed art. We only have to look at the stratospheric prices thatartist such as Ed Burtynsky and Cindy Sherman are able to command from collectors to see that certain forms of photography are indeed considered art.
    The major problem for you it would seem that you have difficulty accepting photography as art as it relies on a mechanical contrivance. Yes on one level I would agree with you, but on another I would disagree. That is the paradox of photography. It is on one hand just a mechanical recorder of events if that is all that the user intends it to be. But if the user has the intent of creating art with a camera then it is an artists tool. Perhaps I might take the liberty of recommending a few books for you to read at your leisure?
    The Genius of Photography by gerry Badger
    On Photography by Susan Sontag
    Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
    The Nature of Photographs by Stephen Shore
    Why People Photograph by Robert Adams
  5. LVL8hacker

    LVL8hacker Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 4, 2012
    Pinehurst, North Carolina
    Larry Anderson
    To me photography is just that, photography. Its when/how others see my photographs is when it becomes art.
  6. Laurentiu Cristofor

    Laurentiu Cristofor Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 9, 2012
    Art is just a thing well done. Where well done can just mean that you are able to sell it as art. ;) 
  7. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    After 50 in or so in photography my answer to that question will always be an emphatic NO, IMVHO that is.
  8. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    what is true that just adding an Art filter or indeed any other wacky photoshop filter doest turn a poor photo into art.

    art isn't about the production technique.... its about the final piece and whether that resonates with enough people who agree it has some merit on some level.

    looking at the OP's image.... i find the original image interesting... though in need of some cropping... the 'art filtered' version much less so

    of course photography can be art

    • Like Like x 1
  9. petronius

    petronius Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2011
    Photography is a technique, a camera is a tool like painting is a technique and a brush is a tool.
    A technique can produce works of art using it´s tools, but it can not be art!
  10. Neon

    Neon Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 12, 2012
    North Wales,UK.
    Ask David Hockney or many 100s of artists.

    YES !
  11. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    what made me start this.

    I may well be older than most of you here. In the 60's and 70's the photo magazines were filled with the debate about photography being real art. I wondered what more modern thinkers would have to say, so I asked the question, "Is photography art?". One, most of you must never have read any of these article I talk about, and second I think that it is wonderful that people realize that photography can really be art. We all have a favorite photographer. Some of mine would include Adams, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Paul Strand and Alfred Eisenstaedt, among many others. I think Ansle Adams would agree that the camera was just the start of a great photograph, the key was his darkroom. Edward Weston sites refers to him as, "The Most influential American Photographer of the Twentieth century". The list goes on and on. One of the advantages of being older is that gear becomes less and less important and you find that what really matters is vision. I used to have all of this stuff, two SLR's with at least 5 lens, to only replace it with DSLR's and now all I have is my G3 and four lens. And I could really get by with just my 14 and 20mm lens and be happy. One of the most freeing things that has happened to me is the economy tanking. I used to continue selling to magazines every so often. Then one day they stopped buying, because where they used to purchase a photo for hundreds of dollars, the now wanted a whole set for less than $500. I still sell a few, but now I am taking what I want to shoot, and if someone likes it fine, but the question is it something I like. It is so freeing. And yes, photography to me is art.

    Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
  12. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    It's not if it has big, ugly watermark on the top that says "Copyright Protected Image" and a button on the bottom that says BUY.

    But yes photography CAN be art, but not this.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I'll admit that that sort of display of a photo isn't artistic, but I don't think that means that the photo itself can't be art.

    Aren't photographers allowed to sell their art via the internet, and can't they try to protect their work from theft by using watermarks?

    If photography can be art, and I think it is, selling photos that way doesn't stop those photos from being art. If the image would be art if viewed framed and hung in a gallery for sale, then I think it's still art if displayed on the internet in that way.
  14. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    I don't care if photography is art, but rather if I can support myself with it.

    BTW, copyright is automatically assigned to the creator. Putting a copyright notice on an image does not give more protection to it. The only thing that you can do to give more legal choices is to register the image with the US Copyright office.
  15. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I know putting a notice on a photo doesn't give it more protection under law but it may deter some illegal use of the photo by acting as a deterrent. I don't know how effective it is in practice but I can also understand photographers who have had their work stolen or misappropriated resorting to any strategy they think may help to discourage those activities.
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    As Hikari said... copyright is implicit... no need to state that in a watermark... if you must put a watermark then in my view it would be better to put a name or a contact email... at least that way if some one does 'acquire' your image without your knowledge, then they at least have a route back to you.

  17. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    True, but that's asking people to be rational and reasonable and no one is that all of the time, especially if they've had their work stolen or if they're simply paranoid about having it stolen.

    Objectively it's really not helping much if a watermark only prevents 1 or 2% of the thefts of an image but if the combination of watermark and buy button converts that 1 or 2% of thefts into a few more sales, some people may consider that a positive outcome. In my view using such strategies for deterrence is ineffective against those who want to steal copyright material for profit (I don't think the don't steal copyright notices on DVDs and BD do anything to deter the big offenders and all they really do is annoy the people who have purchased the legitimate product) but people, even major companies, keep using these sorts of notice and they are entitled to do so, even if they are ineffective.
  18. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    It gives the infringer notice, and that it is not a work in the public domain, so the infringer doesn't have the defense of being an innocent infringer.

    So there are benefits of having in printed even If the work is not registered.
  19. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Sure, it can be. Not all art is good. Not all artists create art that might be interesting to others.

    fine art
    1 (also fine arts) creative art, esp. visual art, whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content : the convergence of popular culture and fine art.
    2 an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment : he'll have to learn the fine art of persuasion.

    art 1 |ärt|
    1 the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power : the art of the Renaissance | great art is concerned with moral imperfections | she studied art in Paris.
    • works produced by such skill and imagination : his collection of modern art | an exhibition of Tibetan art | [as adj. ] an art critic.
    • creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings, or sculpture : she's good at art.
    2 ( the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance : the visual arts | [in sing. ] the art of photography.
    3 ( arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects) : the belief that the arts and sciences were incompatible | the Faculty of Arts.
    4 a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice : the art of conversation.

    photography |fəˈtägrəfē|
    the art or practice of taking and processing photographs.
  20. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    why I added a buy button.

    I contacted my friends over at Photosource Int and asked them about the copyright notice and they had this response.

    “Ultimately it comes down to what you're comfortable and what your presumptive clients think. Personally I don't care much what fellow photographers think as they aren't the people signing the checks for licensing my images. Over the years I've never really heard any complaints from professional photo buyers about people having copyright info, watermarks etc in the photos, unless the marks obscure the photo so badly they [the photo buyers] can't see what the photo really looks like.”

    My site was set up to share images that I had taken. I had received request from former high school students about images of when they were in high school. I covered their school for 10 years when I worked as a stringer for a weekly newspaper. That is why I added the buy button, some people wanted to buy photos. These teenagers are now in their 40’s.

    I submit to magazines, and have been published in: The Christian Science Monitor, Cat Fancy, Our State magazine, Blue Ridge Country magazine, Country Extra magazine, The Charlotte Observer, The Pineville Pioneer, the South East News and others. When I submit to them, I send them a DVD with the images along with a cover letter and list of what I have included in the submittal. These images do not have the copyright notice on them, but it is in the metadata and lets them know that these are rights managed images for one time use only.

    They don’t buy art. They buy a photograph that goes with the articles that they are going to publish. You don’t have to have the best photo in the world, you just need the right one for the story that they are publishing. You don’t need the top of the line camera or lens and m 4/3 works just as well as a DSLR. And no, I am not an artist, I sell stock photography.

    Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
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