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Photography as Art

scchambers-5hpm7546-6My latest post is about art and photography.  Some of you may remember a post I did on this last year, and I don’t think I did it very well.  I have thought about it a lot more since then, and I have gotten some help from Joel Grimes.

So please take a look, see what you think.  The post is Photography as Art on Photographers.com.au  and please try and leave your comments there, I would really like to get a discussion going, and feel free to reply to other peoples comments, just be polite.

65 Comments
  1. I agree that photography can be art too. Some people have the gift of being able to master the camera and lenses as well as the editing software to create real art. My photography is just capturing what I see and sharing it on the website which is good enough. Good topic!

    January 22, 2014
    • Thank you John, I like that you just enjoy taking photos, that is a rare thing to see these days.

      January 22, 2014
      • Photography is fun, a challenge and also an archive that my wife Rebekah will pass to my kids one day should I go first… Reality sucks eh? 😉

        January 22, 2014
      • It does sometimes, but that is great that you have that archive and I am sure your kids will love all the photos. 🙂

        January 22, 2014
      • We are watching the Aussie Open right now, says it’s live but you are 19 hours ahead of us I think. 11:07PM Pacific time here.

        January 22, 2014
      • Yeah we are ahead, it is just after 6pm here, I don’t watch the tennis, too busy watching the cricket.

        January 22, 2014
  2. Sonel #

    Goodness Leanne, you sure know how to push buttons this morning…hahahahah. This is the most I’ve ever written in a post. LOL! I wrote you one lengthy comment there hon. Sorry for that, but just like you I have my opinions as well when it comes to photography art and like I said, to me you are a photographic artist and a damn good one. So keep going hon. Do what you do, enjoy it and have fun. Love your work! 😀 *big hugs*

    January 22, 2014
    • Haha, it was quite a comment Sonel, I wasn’t sure how to answer it, but I got there, I was briefer than you though, I hope that was okay. Thank you so much Sonel. 🙂

      January 22, 2014
      • Sonel #

        Gosh, I surprised myself Leanne! You must not do that to me again! LOL! It doesn’t matter hon. You know you can say what you want with me. We have the right to agree to disagree….hahahah. All okay hon. Just like you this topic is close to my heart as well because it makes me the hell in when ‘purists’ come and break down what we love to do just because they don’t like doing it. I believe we can do what we want with our photo’s and if you want to be artisitic, so be it. I know I love your work! 😀 *hugs*

        January 22, 2014
      • I’m loving it, though we agree on most things, and it is great that we can disagree, and be okay with it.
        Someone just made a good point, that we can all be artists, but some of us will have a lot more drive and it is more important to them. I think that is a great position. That is probably how I feel really, it is the drive.
        I think we can do what we absolutely like with our photos, and it is entirely up to us. I hate the purist photographers who get really snooty because you have manipulated them in some way, who cares, painters manipulate their images all the time.

        January 22, 2014
      • Sonel #

        Same here hon and believe me, I am totally okay with it because I know what you say is said with love and understanding. You’re really a rare kind of person. 😀

        That is a great point of view as well Leanne and I agree with that as well. It’s good to have the drive hon, so keep going and don’t worry what others say.

        hahahah, I know the feeling. Sometimes it can mess up my whole day when I posted some edited photo’s and some of them will make snooty comments and sometimes I think it’s because some of them don’t have an idea how photoshop or lightroom works. LOL! I agree – who cares and yes, they do. We’ll keep on enjoying our digital darkrooms and create what we want and have fun. 😀 *hugs*

        January 22, 2014
      • You are too kind.
        I think that drive is what is so important.

        I hate those snooty comments, the idea that their way is the only way. I was just telling someone who was telling me something, that I shoot intuitively. While I know the “rules” I don’t always go with them, because sometimes my intuition says something different. I love love photoshop, you know that, I love seeing what I can. The image from the camera is my canvas and Photoshop is my paint. 🙂

        January 22, 2014
      • Sonel #

        Same here hon and yes, I think it is important to shoot like that. Yeah, we all know the ‘rules’ but where’s the fun in always calculating something before doing it? We must shoot what we like to see. It’s a totally different situation if you take part in contests where they make it part of the rules but I am not here to take part in any competition. 🙂

        Oh, I know how much you love Photoshop and I love what you see as well. Well said hon. 😀 *hugs*

        January 22, 2014
      • I totally agree, I think that is why I don’t do contests, I find them too constricting.
        Thanks babe, appreciate all this. 🙂

        January 22, 2014
      • Sonel #

        I totally agree hon and you’re very welcome. 😀 *hugs*

        January 23, 2014
      • 🙂

        January 23, 2014
  3. Great article, Leanne. I left you a comment.
    Groetjes, Francina

    January 22, 2014
  4. The Gilly comment is me !

    January 22, 2014
  5. mwp314 #

    How can anybody not say a photograph is not art? They may not like it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t art. My house is filled with Ansel Adams and other photographs.

    January 22, 2014
    • I define art or a piece of artwork that would work on a gallery wall, then again art is different to each person. Though the article was not about what is art, it was meant to be about what sort of person is an artist. The difference between what an artist is and what a photographer is. Ansel Adams was genius, what he did with his images was pure art, he may not have used photoshop, but he still manipulated those photos and turned them into far more than what you saw when you stood in the same space.

      January 22, 2014
      • mwp314 #

        I agree with you completely. The use of Photo Shop, playing with White Balance, playing with perspective, exposing an image differently in a dark room, and so much more is what an artist does.

        January 22, 2014
      • That is so true, really that is what a painter does, they manipulate what they are painting to get the image they want.

        January 22, 2014
  6. A reblogué ceci sur JOURNAL LE COMMUN'ARTet a ajouté:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

    January 22, 2014
  7. Anne Arbour #

    It is said that you don’t “take” a photograph, you “make” a photograph. Like painting, it captures a moment in time that will never happen again and shares a view that is unique to the photographer. Is it art? Yes, it can be. Art is subjective.

    January 22, 2014
    • Very subjective that is for sure Anne, thanks for your thoughts, I like the first part.

      January 22, 2014
  8. Read the post. Indeed, many people tend to focus more on the technical aspects than on the creative process, but that’s understandable. You are right though, in art being creative is very important, sometimes even more important than having technical skills, as passion shines through a photograph.

    January 22, 2014
    • Thank you, it is an interesting topic, when you are studying art, you can show an image that is all blurry and the teachers/lecturers will love it, it is art. It is so weird. I come from camera clubs and they are very much into the technical and everything being perfectly photographically and there is no room for creativity.

      January 22, 2014
      • Today’s art world is indeed a strange place to live in, as people come from such different background and have such different views. Sometimes great work is not appreciated, but it’s wonderful when it is.

        January 22, 2014
      • I really relate to this, very well said.

        January 22, 2014
      • Thanks :)!

        January 22, 2014
  9. Hi I left a rather repetitive note on this website. Awesome post. 😀

    January 22, 2014
    • I loved your comment, it was fantastic, you made some fantastic points. Thank you for doing that. 🙂

      January 22, 2014
  10. Jenny Overton #

    Great post. Mastering the equipment is a challenge for me and far too technical for my mind…lol. I can appreciate a “technical” image that hasn’t been tinkered with but for me I like the creativeness that can be achieved. I paint and I’m not drawn to paintings or illustrations that look like a photograph. Creativity and style is what makes it yours.. Hope that makes sense I’ve had a couple 😉

    January 22, 2014
    • Thank you Jenny, I think I am the same as you. I used to paint, but gave it up to concentrate on photography. I have done it all. I love what you have said about creativity and style, I totally agree with you.

      January 22, 2014
  11. I’ve been down that road before and prefer to avoid getting involved in such discussions as such – but I will offer what I think about photography in the form of a few statements.
    The practice of photography is not art but a craft.
    Photography is the chemical process for creating an image (traditional), whilst digital imaging is what we do with our DSLRs and subsequent digital image manipulation.
    Digital Imaging can be/is art.
    Photographs can be turned into art when they are brought together to form something else.
    Art can exist in front of the lens, which is then photographed, but the result is not art. (If you give me a bunch of flowers in a vase and I photograph them as they are, the result of my efforts will be a photographic record of that bunch of flowers – give the same task to somebody blessed with the artistic skills of flower arranging, they will create a piece of art in the vase from the same flowers and then photograph it – they will have a record of a piece of art – that photograph will not be art – the art is in the bunch of flowers.

    I’m happy with my ‘definitions’ and I’m happy that other’s have their own views. At the end of the day, whether photography is or is not art depends upon what the definition of art is.
    Similar discussions about art/photography occurred 100 years ago around Pictorialism.
    (Right I have to grab my camera gear and take my buddy out for a session of digital imaging ;))

    January 22, 2014
    • I totally agree with you Stephen, I think exactly the same as you, though, I do think you can create art with photos, especially in this day and age of digital editing and manipulation. I always think there is a difference between an art and a photograph, one is more about an expression, or emoting emotion, whereas the other is just a record of what was there.
      Thanks Stephen for adding your thoughts here, great comment.

      January 22, 2014
      • Yes, I’m with you on the creating art with photos, but they become digital art and no longer photos. I have have seen some stunning digital art based on digital photos – where combinations of cropping/cut and paste/’airbrushing have been used to create something altogether different – a bit like when we used to create collages from magazine photos at school?

        January 22, 2014
      • But then isn’t a photo that is taken with a digital camera also a digital image and not a photo? I am not sure I totally agree with that, I think it is about how it is printed and what not. Does that mean that images that were manipulated in the darkroom are not photos either. It is a difficult situation, though having said all that, I have to admit I don’t really care about that so much. I can still get them printed and they will look like photos, and I’m okay with that.

        January 22, 2014
      • Yes, it’s digital image.
        No, when printing, a printer will adjust the output of a negative to meet their demands.
        Remember that both photography and digital images created with a digital camera tend to go through a two stage process. The taking bit and the making the image bit.
        To a certain extent, as you suggest, we can get hung up on labels.
        (Somebody once told me that ‘Art’ is a market. If something doesn’t have value in a market sense it is not Art…. some notional value has to be added to the work. I might also argue that a piece of ‘Art’ has to be unique to have value – so all these digital copies….
        In one discussion, I suggested that the only way a digital print could be come ‘Art’ was if the ‘artist’ created a work (print) and then deleted the original digital files so no reproduction could be made.
        (Unfortunately, I am burdened with an innate compulsion to argue the toss about anything – or at least continually examine statements made by myself or others.)
        Visited a interesting church with my buddy, but it was very dark so the resulting digital images are limited to straight record shots).

        January 23, 2014
      • It is interesting you make this difference between a negative and a digital file, a negative also goes through more than one process, and a master in the darkroom could do a lot to a negative. I was never very good in the darkroom, I didn’t have the patience.
        I also don’t understand this notion that a photograph can only be valuable if there is only one copy of it. Printmakers make multiple copies of their work and sell them in editions, does that mean their work is not worth anything? I have a book that I write my photos in that are available for sale, and will do an edition, so I decide how many of each can be sold, then I make note every time one is sold, so I can make sure I don’t sell more than the edition. Once that edition is sold, I won’t destroy the image, but I would never sell it again.
        Oh you are one of those people, I am similar, I always bite. LOL
        That is a shame about the church, did you have a tripod with you, or was it too dark for that as well. Churches can be do hard, you get the bright light coming from the windows, but the rest of the inside is so dark. Probably where HDR would be really good.

        January 23, 2014
      • I see no reason why a photograph, photographs or a book of photographs should not be valuable – but that doesn’t mean it has to be Art.
        HDR is something I tend to steer away from.

        January 23, 2014
      • That is very true Stephen, couldn’t agree more with you.
        I think there is a place for HDR but you have to be so careful with it, and be prepared to play around a lot, otherwise it can go bad very quickly. I don’t do them anywhere near as much as I used to, but sometimes it is a great start to a image, and I go from there.

        January 24, 2014
      • 🙂
        When the start going ‘CGI’ then I’m not particularly interested – though I can see the appeal from a digital art point of view, but, at the moment that area is not for me. 😉

        January 24, 2014
      • That’s fair enough

        January 24, 2014
  12. Reblogged this on dunjav.

    January 22, 2014
  13. jcollettphotography #

    I remember reading a book once ( I can’t recall the title ) but it covered this very topic and how photographers especially in the digital age struggle to be recognised as artists and two points spring to mind. The first is how one photographer says it is easier for painters to create art as they start with a blank canvas whereas the photographer already has a scene or subject in front of them and has to create art from that, the second was a statement which to me says it all which went along the lines of “Plain Mrs Thompson is painted by a painter and the resulting piece of work is seen a thing of beauty…a piece of art, I take a photo of the exact same pose and lighting yet this is seen only as a photo” Nice topic Leanne and a debate that will continue for a long time yet, I do believe that photography is a form of art if you enhance the image after capturing it or shoot it from an unusual perspective, I think it’s all to do with how the photographer wants to portray the image.

    January 22, 2014
    • I was saying to someone earlier, that I think of the straight image from my camera as my canvas and Photoshop is my paint.
      I agree with you, sounds like a really interesting book James. Thank you so much.

      January 23, 2014
  14. Interesting post, Leanne, thanks for sharing. I think Joel’s comments make some amount of sense; I like most of Joe Satriani’s music, but a lot of it I feel is so technically perfect, it’s soulless.
    On the other hand, obsession over the gear doesn’t mean you’re any less inclined to have the ‘eye’.
    You do some amazing work post — I never learned to use photoshop and doubt I have the patience to sit for hours doing post work. I guess that makes me more a — using the term loosely, here — photographer! 🙂

    January 22, 2014
    • Joel does explain it really well, shame I couldn’t show you what he was saying.
      No, I think any photographer is going to have a certain amount of obsession over their gear, there are many painters who have the same thing, they because obsessed about the paint they will use or their brushes, but there is another part of it to, I think it could be also more about not letting the gear dictate what your images will be like.
      Joel also says that if he calls himself an article then he can do what he likes, it gives him more freedom. I do like that.
      Thank you Matt.

      January 23, 2014
  15. Hi Leanne, really enjoy your art. The pleasure it gives you shows within your images. I’m looking forward to your next project. Kindest regards

    January 23, 2014
    • Thank you so much, what a lovely comment.

      January 23, 2014
  16. This is pretty amazing Leanne … great minds must indeed think alike … I, just today (and before seeing your post), posted my own piece about this very subject! After reading your words and reflecting on my own situation … perhaps I need a bit more self confidence? D

    January 23, 2014
    • Oh yes, great minds do think alike it would seem. It is definitely something about self confidence, and I think having the courage to say what are or aren’t. I have never felt comfortable being a photographer, but have always been comfortable calling myself an artist. Thank you, I hope the post helped you.

      January 23, 2014
  17. That’s an excellent post on what’s really an eternal question: what is art? Not all paintings are art. Not all pieces of writing are art, and, like you said, not all photos are art. I often find myself returning to this old poem by Kipling called The Conundrum of the Workshops. Here’s the first stanza.

    When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,
    Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
    And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
    Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, “It’s pretty, but is it Art ?”

    January 24, 2014
    • That is so true, and that poem is great, nice idea of the discussion having been going on for a centuries, and I am sure it will continue for many more.

      January 24, 2014
  18. great article. worth reading.

    January 24, 2014
  19. I love how you capture grandeur.

    January 25, 2014
    • Thank you, what a wonderful thing to say.

      January 25, 2014
  20. A couple of years ago I went to some classes during the Augusta Photo Fair. One of those classes was Photography as Art. It was very interesting and the instructor said he researched several books and studied to distinguish the difference between Art and Photography. The out come was [in a simplest form was it is in the eye of the beholder] of course it is more complicated than that. I’m glad to see you are tackling the subject also. It’s always a pleasure to learn more about Photography and it’s correlation to Art.

    January 30, 2014
    • It is a very weird thing, I know what I think is art, and what photos I take that I think are just a record of what I saw, though many people see it very differently. I think it is much harder with photography than it is for any other type of art, like painting. It is tough one, and I do get my head bitten off a bit about too, which I don’t really like. Thank you, I really appreciate your response.

      January 30, 2014
      • Your welcome but I’m afraid that the issue will continue to be debated long after I’m gone. Good luck on turning peoples heads around the subject. When I was shooting film I wanted to create a perfect picture in my camera not in the darkroom. I studied very hard to do that but with not much suggest, I did manage to win a few awards at the Los Angeles County Fair.

        January 31, 2014
      • I don’t know that I will try again, it is such a big topic and everyone has an opinion, and sometimes I think many people don’t quite understand what I am saying, so it is very hard. That sounds great, I really need to start looking at entering some competitions. Thanks.

        January 31, 2014

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