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View Poll Results: Is photography an art or a craft?

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  • Art

    18 51.43%
  • Craft

    17 48.57%
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  1. #11

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    I think that photography is first of all a craft. The craft in this case "photography" is one possible means to produce a work of art...but not necessarily the only one or not necessarily always successfully. Simply because it is "photography" does not automatically elevate it to a position of "art".

    I think that for a photograph to be seriously considered a work of art it must elicit an emotional response within the artist and others as well. That response transcends the degree of competence the photographer may or may not have.

    I have seen some very beautiful and technically perfect photographs that bring nothing in an emotional content. They may be "pretty"...but I am rapidly approaching the point of ad nauseum with "pretty" photographs.

    Jorge says

    "That's just it, nobody does if you think about it. If you say "painting is an art" chances are most people will agree with you. Of course some might start to get too technical, dissect your sentence etc, but overall I think most will agree with you."

    I must inform you that I do not agree with the "painting is art" generalization. To me painting, again, is a craft that may be used to produce a work of art. But not necessarily so.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  2. #12
    Ole
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    Yes.

    Knowing the craft is a prerequisite to producing art. This doesn't mean that all photography is art, nor even that all "art photography" displays good craftsmanship.

    But in my opinion, the answer is "yes": Both are needed to be more than snapshots.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #13

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    [quote="dnmilikan"]I think that photography is first of all a craft. The craft in this case "photography" is one possible means to produce a work of art...but not necessarily the only one or not necessarily always successfully. Simply because it is "photography" does not automatically elevate it to a position of "art".

    I agreee with Donald. In my eyes you use the 'Craft' to create a work of 'Art'. I have seen photo's that are technically excellent but lack soul and vica versa. An 'Art' photograph has a piece of the soul of the photographer (and possibly the printer) embedded in the emulsion. They use their 'craft' to put it there.

    Phill
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

  4. #14

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    "Is photography an artistic medium--yes, just as paint is, but not every painted surface is art, nor is every photograph"

    Like he said.

    Well I'd like to point out the MOMA I think contains furniture. Which shows anything can be art. It's not the craft that makes art it's the final item. All the craft does is make it easier for a person to make thier vision real. A well crafted piece doesn't equal art. A badly crafted one can.

  5. #15
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    The furniture issue is actually more difficult than I'm making it out to be. There are many museums with furniture, clothing, etc., and architecture is in the same category.

    The MOMA exhibits suggest that the industrial design is the art, and the manufacture of the furniture is the craft.

    More generally, the thing that makes these kinds of things interesting is usually something beyond their functionality, such as design, surface, etc. On the other hand, some would say that the most interesting forms are those that follow function, so it may not be possible to separate form and function in a chair, building, or evening gown.

    The "fine" (as opposed to "applied") art photograph, painting, sculpture, or musical or literary work, however, has no function other than to be itself. Of course few works are really that straightforward in their intentionality, or they wouldn't be interesting.
    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

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb

    The MOMA exhibits suggest that the industrial design is the art, and the manufacture of the furniture is the craft.
    Personally I think this applies to everything. It's the artistic vision that's the art. Weather the person uses paint,photograph or a coffee table.

    I'm trying to remember who but one of the old Italian masters would go to the quarry pick out his stone. Walk over to the guys with the chisels. Tell them his vision. Come back awhile later and pickup the more or less finished piece.

    Or a photographer that uses a custom printer.

  7. #17
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
    Too intersting to avoid. My comment .... Who really cares?
    Obviously in need of expansion.

    I should have been more picky, more precise, and replied "Not a MAJOR concern to me." I don't lie awake nights pondering "Photography - art or craft?"

    One idea is to suppose we have an answer, and try to predict the consequences.

    So, we travel to the mountain, climb it, and reach the Ultimate Guru on top of it - the "All Knowing One". S/he enlightens us ... "Photography is Craft!!", with an undeniable, logical explanation ... why!!
    How would that knowledge affect what we do? Would our "vision", our motivaton, our interaction with the world - and life - change?
    Suppose further, that the opposite answer, "Photography is Art" is the ultimate truth... then what?

    I'm fairly sure, that I would say, "Well, I don't have to wonder about that any more (no, I DON"T want to NOT wonder); go to bed tonight, wake up tomorrow (hopefully) and try to do the best I could in that day. No different than what I do now.

    I have been in a couple of "waiting" situations lately - I bring "Alfred Steiglitz - a Biography", by Richard Whelen, with me to read. This book is *filled* with Post-Its, marking interesting passages.
    One of them ... on topic:

    "In 1922 Steiglitz would write,

    Photography is not art. Neither is painting nor scupture, literature nor music. They are only different media for the individual to express his (or her - ES) aesthetic feelings; the tools he (or she - ES) uses in his (-- oh, you get the idea - ES) creative work.... You do not have to be a painter or sculptor to be an artist. You may be a shoemaker. You may be creative as such. And if so you are a greater artist than the majority of the painters whose work is shown in the art galleries of today."
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  8. #18

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    LOve that quote Ed. Of course I dont lie awake at night wondering this either. But I thought that if any one group would think photography is an art, would be photogrphers.

    Now it seems many a times we tend to get too deep into questions like this, here and in PN I was looking for "your" core feelings. To borrow your Stieglitz quote, a shoe maker can be creative, accomplished at his craft, but he does not do it for joy, or at least not in the sense we do. Of course, before you even say he might derive joy from a job magnifecintly done and the praise from his customer. In this case we could say photography is a craft, similar to those who make their living creating images on demand for customers. But why do you do it? I am sure whatever income you get from phtography is small compared to your main income, so why do it?

    Get my drift? Sometimes we tend to over analyse things, I dont know....I am very surprised at the reaction an comments....

  9. #19
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    Lets face it. Everything that comes out of New York to the great unwashed is ART. BE is music, performance, photographic, fashion, whatever.

    To the rest of us struggling to produce fine photographs, I believe the same as Don has said. We are craftsmen(people), working to produce the occasional work of art. Hopefully.

    I also believe that people that call themselves artists, are rather pretentious. Others may call you an artist, but you are really a craftman. When you start to call yourself an artist, you are in my opinion waaaay tooo full of yourself. EGO. "I'm an "ARTIST".

    However the two terms, art and craft have become so blurred and watered down that my previous rant about, nose art, boob art, etc in another thread has left me with the feeling that the entire question is like mental masturbation. It may feel good to talk about it but we don't really get anywhere with it.

    So I begrudgingly have to fall in line behind ED yet again, and say that I may stay awake at night for a few minutes, thinking about it, but once the alcohol kicks in I sleep like a baby.


    Michael McBlane

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge
    ..I thought that if any one group would think photography is an art, would be photogrphers..
    Jorge, you have said much the same thing several times (here and PN) and I keep wondering why, unless you are thinking of Photography only as what you do. I keep wondering if the photographer that pulls the 100' of 5" film out of the U2 spy plane feels like an artist? How do those that do nothing but copy shooting or simple snapshots feel about their art? I think that numerically most "photographers" have never thought of what they are doing as art and relatively few may aspire to some sort of artistic expression.

    It strikes me that most of us are talking past each other perhaps because of differing definitions and experiences.

    Bob (staying awake at night because of this question)

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