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  1. #1
    BradS's Avatar
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    Is Photography Art? Why/ why Not?

    I found myself engaged in a conversation with somebody in the Administrative side of the company at lunch today. Her educational background was in Art History. The conversation turned from the usual topics to my interest in Photogrpahy....anyway, at some point she asserted that Photography is not art. She said that it is not considered art because, in essence, there is no artist. The final result was simply a matter of chemisty and physics.

    Now, I am no artist. I don't even aspire to be an artist...but, try as I might to convice her otherwise, she steadfastly maintained that Photography is not art...in some kind of academic sense, I guess.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    roteague's Avatar
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    Of course, Photography is art. Why? Because in order to produce a pleasing image, even for commercial use, it requires input from the artistic portion of the brain. But, don't waste you time trying to convince your coworker - you can't convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    That's a fairly primitive view of photography. It is true that photography wasn't taught in art schools or studied in art history programs until relatively recently (1960s or so), but that's not really the case any more.

    I wouldn't worry about it, really. Just do the work, and let the critics sort out what it is.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  4. #4
    jimgalli's Avatar
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    What a bone head. That's why she works in Admin. Too bad. Sometimes ignorance is a player. My "inlaws" don't consider anything besides what Getty has from the Greek classical period to be art. Mostly that is because of ignorance. They simply have no clue.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

    http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com

  5. #5
    Daniel Lawton's Avatar
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    The word artist is such a loose term I think it is difficult to positively label any activity as "art." I'm sure everyone has seen a fair share of paintings hanging in museums or galleries that we would have a hard time labeling as "art." I don't think I would ever feel comfortable calling myself an artist because the term has always seemed a little pompous to me. On the other hand, I've never been under the impression that the word itself requires that the activity be devoid of chemistry and physics. Seems a little silly.

  6. #6

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    I guess I don't worry too much about what is considered art and what isn't, but I have to chuckle at those who automatically exclude photography as art yet consider something such as hanging up some colorful ribbons to be art.

    This thread made me think of an older one here on APUG about what or who is a photographer. One view held that you were a "photographer" only if you were a professional, making your living from the use of your camera. The majority of APUGers likely are not professional photographers. So we're not photographers, and apparently are not artists, either. What are we then, camera owner/operators? That sounds too much like an IRS job code on the tax form.

  7. #7
    BradS's Avatar
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    Well, I just spent the last hour or so using data from Amazon dot com's "Customers who bought this book also bought..." listings to build a directed graph of books related to The C++ Programming Language by Bjarne Stroustrup. So, I guess, that makes me a programming/ statistics nerd.

    Back on topic...I'm too old now to worry much about what others think but, I just thought this woman's point of view rather odd. It just never occurred to me that the whole field could be dismissed like that. To me, some photography is clearly art. Some is not. Paintings are the same way. For me, there's always been a large gray area. Not so, apparently for my co-worker. It was an interesting conversation.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradS
    I found myself engaged in a conversation with somebody in the Administrative side of the company at lunch today. Her educational background was in Art History. The conversation turned from the usual topics to my interest in Photogrpahy....anyway, at some point she asserted that Photography is not art. She said that it is not considered art because, in essence, there is no artist. The final result was simply a matter of chemisty and physics.

    Now, I am no artist. I don't even aspire to be an artist...but, try as I might to convice her otherwise, she steadfastly maintained that Photography is not art...in some kind of academic sense, I guess.

    Thoughts?
    Brad, buddy, one of the first laws of debate and logic is to use their own arguments against them. For someone to be able to tell you that photography is not art, they first have to define for you what is art. Let her struggle with that for a while.

    OTOH I am not surprised. This opinion is very prevalent. The beleif that all that is required to be a photographer is the ability to pick up a camera and press the shutter, the rest is just mechanics.

    I wonder why is it that "non art" is being shown in museums and galleries......

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Photography isn't Art, but photographs can be.

    It's not the process, but rather the use of the process, by the artist.

    I wonder what she thinks of Andy Warhol?

  10. #10
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    Here in this little undeveloped contry (Denmark) the issue has been delt with in a strange matter..
    On one hand we do have photographic museums - and other museums regulary exhibit photography..
    One can even be "put on the law of Finances" - for some years or for life..... That means the state will pay you a yearly income in that time..

    BUT we also have a ruling by the court that states that photography isnt't art....

    Why?

    because everybody here pays 25% VAT (moms). Except artists.. They don't pay VAT .

    So even if one is payed by the goverment, one has to pay the 25% for all one sells..

    I guess it is because they fear that all Danes with a camera would claim they are Artists to avoid the taxes...

    But it is silly.

    one problem related to this is, that ex the museum of Photography once had an exhibition of a Canadian photographer..
    the Tax authorities calimed 25% of ALL pictures - up front.
    in case they were sold.....
    if not the museum would get the money back..

    well - this is a huge problem for many, if they want to exhibit foreign artists, as not too many places have that kind of cash....

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