Photography has as valid a claim to being "art" as any other medium does. However - I don't think the medium itself is much of a deciding factor when it comes to applying labels. Is "painting" art? What about a house painter - is he an "artist?". Anything else I can think of -- dance, poetry, music, sculpture... may or may not be "art" ... and their practioners may or may not be "artists".
It is not very difficult to think of photographers who were easily as creative as anyone else ... think of Phillipe Halsman's "Flying Wet Cats", or Man Ray's ... anything.
Photography as "art"? Sure... why not?