Photography, Art or just a photo?

March 14th, 2011 at 9:40am

Do you consider your photography art or just photography? Recently I read an article on a blog I visit often

Edward Mendes wrote about this subject matter here ( ) and its something I guess we ask ourselves from time to time in the same vein as being a professional or an amateur photographer/artist. While the term Artist has been reserved for those that either produce painted works or sculpture pieces do we as photographers professional or amateur consider ourselves artists?

While I consider my photography art others may not, I believe the term “Art” lies in the eyes of the beholder as I have seen many “Art” pieces I thought looked like twisted pieces of junk metal or paint just splattered all over a canvas. Do you need a “Art Degree” to understand what art is or can you find art in something you like regardless of what the next person thinks?

Edward makes a good point about the work and vision photographers put in their craft both on location and in post production, is that not the same as a Artist that see’s a scene either in nature or in their mind and then recreates it using paints of other materials like wood, iron or stone. Or is art a product of somesone’s passion to bring to others that same thing they see or hear as a vision first then bring to life via their chosen art filed, painting, acting, making music or taking a photograph? or maybe Art is more the intent to produce something rather than document something, we can all take a photo to document a location, while some will try and produce art through their knowledge and skills learnt.

What are your thoughts when one person takes a photograph then just sends off the raw file image to a 3rd party for post production, receiving the finished product back from someone that was never at the scene to understand the light, colours at the time ?

What are your thoughts, I would be interested to read them ?

Here is photograph/piece of Art from the Southwest Of Western Australia.




  1. I think some photos definitely have something of art about them, but it’s hard to define what it is! I think it has a lot to do with how well the photographer is able capture something as only they could have seen it. Some photos can be as distinctive in terms of who created them as some paintings.

    There’s definitely something beautiful about photos. The extreme realism is sharp and clear and satisfying. But ‘art’ photos make you go back again and again and somehow – no idea how – they keep holding your interest. There’s depth to them and originality. Technically brilliant paintings can sometimes actually be really uninspiring and cliched. So I think the key ingredient of art, that somehow makes the viewer part of the image, can exist in both photography and more traditional mediums.

  2. This is a debate that will probably never stop!

    Art covers such a lot of mediums and photography is certainly one of those mediums. Since the advent of Digital photography and Photoshop, photography has morphed into something that can go way beyond just gathering light from a scene in front of you.

    More than ever the camera is just the implement to collect the raw data that your imagination and software can turn into real art. From there it is in the eyes of the beholder!

    The beauty about photography is that it can be purely functional ie: forensic or product photography, artistic such as advertising or fine art, or a mix of both such as landscape and fashion.

    My take on it is that if someone likes it enough to hang a large print on the wall then that print is art!

  3. I agree with that Photography Art Cafe, but is it still considered art when someone takes the photograph and outsources the post production of the image as is the case with a growing number of home grown photographers …

    I agree Tim but the same question remains, is it considered art of just a photograph if 2 people are involved where one person outsources their post production …

  4. My view is that landscape photograpjy can definately be considered as fine art. It depends on the creative intent of the photographer when the photo is taken and the post production where the artist/photographer interpets the image through his mind and heart.
    To me it is only the end result that is important, it doesn’t matter how you get there. I try to capture the spirit of place exactly the same as a painter or a poet would.
    We live in a beautiful landscape where we cam merge our internal world with the one that surrounds us.

  5. Interesting point Neal! I think in all liklihood ‘No, it can’t’. But not by definition. Some art relies on collaborative effort, e.g. theatre/music. Some simply survives the involvement of secondary contributors, e.g. redacted literature/large scale paintings or sculpture. But I think what makes some photos so cool is that they reflect the uniqueness of the photographer’s vision, perspective, observation etc. There’s just something different about them. The graphical elements of the picture fall into line with this, so why would anyone want to outsource Photoshop work? I can understand it if it’s purely for commercial reasons. I totally agree with Greg above – it’s the ‘end result’ that matters in photography – and you wouldn’t want anyone else getting in the way of that!

  6. I have no idea why some would outsource their post production and loose final control on what they saw, unless they saw nothing in which case to me it just becomes a snap shot with no insight and style from the photographer which usually leaves the photograph looking cold and as I said just as snap shot …

  7. I agree Greg ….

  8. From one artist to another mate…I think it is a very arty shot dude! :)

  9. Pat Remedios said April 9th, 2011, 7:55am:

    I think it must be Art because one has to have the GIFT to be able to capture NATURE in its TRUEST FORM.
    Anyone can be a Doctor or Teacher etc., but it takes true Talent or Gift to produce healthy results.

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