Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photography is Art

Guest blogger:  Angeline 

Since photography became available to just about everyone, the debate continues: is photography considered art? The answer is YES. Just like in the more classical arts such as painting and drawing, there is good and bad photographic art. Since there is an opinion of good and bad, photography can be considered art.

Seems like a simple idea: if a judgement of good or bad is possible, then photography is considered art. Art is in the eye of the beholder, but even the beholder can tell if the quick snapshot belongs in a magazine or in the trash. How many times have you taken a photograph of the same scene, at the same time, but your photograph does not process as wonderfully as the person's photograph that was with you? How many times have you had to buy the vacation postcard because you know your photograph is not going to be up to standard? The postcard is a art photograph: the artist waited, timed, captured, and processed the image to fit most people's ideal of the scene. Therefore, art is inherent in the photograph and photography is art.

As a painting artist, I am aware of how much effort it takes to create a beautiful photograph. For instance, it may take me an hour to finish a beautiful 20 x 30 painting, but there is a lot you do not see that happened before that hour. I have taken workshops, studied books and videos, consume podcasts, read magazines, observe places where I live and vacation, browse through my reference photos…etc. A photographer does so much work just before taking that seemingly instant image. Photographers wake up early and/or miss dinner. Photographers travel, carry gear, and sweat. Processing, whether in a traditional dark room or a software program, takes patience and time. Photographers take workshops, study books and videos, consume podcasts, read magazines, observe places, and you get the idea. A photograph may seem quick and simple, but the photographer's skill, experience, and talent all come into play when you see the final results, just like the large painting that you saw only took an hour.

Just as in paintings, photography is art. There is both good and bad art just like good and bad photography. Painting and photography artists all strive for the same thing: to share and communicate how we feel about the world around us visually.

Jason's examples:
The first photo below is from my recent Cuba trip and is a standard properly exposed image.  I took a 3 shot bracketed photo of this car for the purposes of HDR photography.  The HDR photograph is the second image.  Some will like the first and some will like the second.  There are some out there like me who like both.  The moral of the story?  Art is subjective and each individual has styles and looks that appeal to them. 

Thanks so much Angeline for the guest post and I can wait to see your next one.

Photo from Cuba

HDR Photo from Cuba


  1. Jason,
    THANK YOU for posting it!

    Your example is wonderful - same image, different settings. I like the second one better, but know the first one is lifelike.

  2. That is exactly the point. Which one is best? The answer is easy... Which ever one you like the best.

  3. I definitely agree with you. I think I kind of prefer the first photo, the second looks a little too "touched-up", to the extent that I wouldn't expect to see it in real life. Although I'm not sure what it is about it that gives me that impression.

  4. The second is three images merged into one for the purposes of HDR-Tonemapping. I was a bit extreme on the processing of this image just to show how different art can be and that each appeals to different people for different reasons. My favorite part of both photos though is the dog on the arch.

  5. Haha! The dog! I hadn't even spotted it! Yes it looks great.

  6. Subtle but now that you noticed it you can't help but see the critter.