The reality is a mixture of product and artist, though at the big money end, it's mostly a pi55ing contest between begabucks patrons and curators to see what they can get away with. Creating an artist is an act of connoisseurship on the part of the patron, so all the kudos - and the profit when they decide to sell - comes back to them. The artist is a pawn in a bigger game, the art futures market. People making art, including photographic art, has next to nothing to do with the art market. Confuse the two and you'll go insane.