Is Photography Art ?

This past weekend I was able to spend some time with members of our local art community, when the subject of photography was brought up, many but not all of the people at this gathering seemed to turn their noses up to photography as an art form. A few of them did acknowledge that B&W’s, Nudes and Portraits were art, but when it came to landscape and nature photography, a large of number them seemed very disinterested.

As a beginning photographer that specializes in nature and landscape I found this a bit disheartening and really struggled with an answer to their arguments. Many of them sited Photoshop and photo manipulation as reasons, others argued that they created art and that I just recorded it, being that I was an invited guest I pretty much kept my mouth shut. The argument grew out of the fact that a question was asked about art sales and how many sales or inquiries they had received.

When I had interjected that I was doing pretty well, the conversation got a little tense, that’s when they began to explain to me that what I was doing wasn’t quite an art form and the fact that my prices weren’t nearly as high as theirs didn’t help much as well. So I guess my question to you is do you agree with their premise and is photography not quite up there with other forms of art or are they just a group of dissatisfied artists taking out their frustrations on me?

I don’t claim to be an artist and the title somehow makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I do know I have seen some incredible pieces of art created by photographers that I would to have hanging on my wall. Photography is a hobby for me that brings in a little cash on the side that I enjoy greatly, and chances are I will never do it full time, but I do believe it is a beautiful form of art and I was wondering what your thoughts or comments on this subject were?

This is a image of a heron that I used Photoshop on to get these results, I am guessing they wouldn’t say this was art.



18 thoughts on “Is Photography Art ?

  1. Bubba

    Quite frankly this “picture” is art. More especially so since it is framed, hanging on the wall in my house, and receives many compliments.Anyone who does not believe Clyde Butcher is an “artist” needs their gooey collection of paint that is a Van Gogh shoved up their easel.

  2. Richard

    The snobby attitude is the reason why I’m not a part of any real life art communities. Photo included. NPN is cool because most people respect what you do, or at the least they don’t bother you.

    The one comforting thing you can take away from the experience is that you’re making more money than they are. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. 🙂

  3. hani

    Before I read this post I couldnt stop my eyes to go throw your amazing photos, and i was like: WOW … this is beautiful … ah this one is amazing … oh, my, GOD.
    I think all what you need to do is to ask those people to visit this amazing blog, and I think they will change their mind .. otherwise just ignore them.
    You doing a great artwork, good job, really 🙂

  4. Sylvaine Vaucher

    If this heron is the bird…well I would have preferred to see it in its own beauty…I’m the one that dont use photoshop artistic filter. May be cause I’m a prof. photographer. But happy to meet you while surfing on “Phto’s Tag.

  5. montucky

    Seems to me that there are essentially two types of photography; one which documents and one which interprets (sometime them blend together). What is normally considered “art” is creative and/or interpretive. Clearly, there are types of photography that do interpret, and perhaps even better than other mediums. I think it clearly can be art!

    (Kind of like the debate between a worm fisherman and a fly fisherman.)

  6. mon@rch

    Without a doubt photography is art that is appreciated by many different people for different reasons! Many of the works that they think is nice, I would consider not! I love your art with the camara and please keep it coming.

  7. Beth Ellen Nagle

    I think the artistic aspect of photography is in the composition. There is the aesthetic eye that chooses to frame a subject a certain way. The image above is just simply wonderful. It has a wonderful minimalism and a sense of vast beauty. I like how it is suggestive instead of simply showing a heron (though images that do that are valuable too). It has a poetic sense about it. It is “interpreted”.

  8. ankush

    Art, in my view, involves creative expression. In photography the creativity comes into the picture in seeing things with a creative eye. A photographer’s point of view, as well as post-processing is where I believe his creativity can come into play. Yes, I would say photography is definitely an art. But, to me it really does not matter what others think or believe. I feel like I express my creativity through my photography, and it takes me to the same place of inner content and peaceful ‘knowing-ness’ just as when I play music, and thats mainly what matters.

  9. paintingartist

    There are probably a lot more photographers with an artist’s eye than painters with an artist’s eye. It is all about the craft. Are you passionate about your subject? Do you love it? Do you want to want to say something about it? As Bubba said, “Who could deny that Clyde Butcher is an artist and master craftsman?” Good work Bernie! Fine art!

  10. Bernie Kasper Post author

    Thanks for all the input guys, I agree with pretty much what everyone here said, you gave me some great insight and I appreciate the time time you took to comment on this.

    And as for you Bubba , you can just crawl onto your boat wet a line and laugh about us poor Hoosiers stuck up here, and I will see you down in the Keyes in October. You supply the fish and I will supply the wine.

  11. Lori

    I believe that art, like beauty, is in the ‘eye of the beholder’. There are many paintings, sculptures, etc. that perplex me; that I don’t consider artistic. And there are many beautiful works of photography that I certainly see as art.

    It takes a special eye, patience, knowledge and love of this world to capture its natural beauty and put it on display. With the right person behind the lens, a photograph can tell a story, enchant, give something to ponder, or take one’s breath away. Feeling such emotions, how could that not be “art”?

    Your photographs are vivid…stunning. I’m glad to have found you.

  12. aullori

    Hi it’s me and my two bit opinion again…

    Quick like a bunny my nickels worth?

    My mom insists that art isn’t art. 🙂 But she was a big fan of the velvet elvis paintings.

    The nature of art makes it a subjective discussion. My guess? yep, they are a bunch of artist taking their frustrations out on you. Art can only be defined (I think) by the emotions of the viewer. In this sense your family photographs (to your family) is art… This is why I think we hang them up – because they are touching and inspire memories. (But have you ever sat through a slideshow at someone else home? Uggg….) Art cannot be narrowly defined and it’s a big mistake for anyone to do so. (Even with all due respect to my mom’s velvet elvis loving ways…)

    Photography is art because though you are capturing a moment in time – that moment will change. This is no different than the painter – and this work will never be seen through anyone else’s eyes the same way as your eyes see them – unless you offer it up to us. If I gander your work and I find myself inspired by it then it is art. I can take a million photos of a flower and two will never be the same. Sounds a little like the creation process doesn’t it? In a nutshell God (be it a he or she) can make a million people and two will never be the same. Sounds pretty artsy to me.

  13. CJ Morgan

    Some photography is art. Some is not.
    Some art is great art. Some is not.
    Photographs of art are not art, they are photographs. A lot of people have photographs of famous works of art on their walls. Do they call it art or photography?

    If I used to be a painter, but am now a photographer and a digital artist, does than mean I’m not an artist anymore? What if I can still paint, but choose not to?

    If someone wants to put me, or you or any other creative person in a pigeonhole that really isn’t any of our business. Is it? To allow ourselves to be confined to a narrow definition of what other people “think” would be to limit our own creativity. We can be whatever we choose. We should do whatever is in our hearts without regard to the thoughts of narrow minded people. Then we will truly be artists.


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