Isn't this a bit like asking TDK to define good music, or Panasonic to decide what's good on TV?
Originally Posted by Fintan
Mastery of craft is fine and good and can be quite impressive. It can also lead to disturbingly narrow notions when it's mistaken as a definition for something else. Perfect negatives are great, but not always needed for many purposes -- say, a driver's license photo, or a museum show.
Example: consider Nikki S Lee, who doesn't even shoot her best-known photos -- she appears in them. They are usualy made with P&S cameras, though for a series like the Bourgeousie she chose commercial shooters with the appropriately "polite" larger cameras and technically-flawless negs.
Whether you like Lee's work or not, the truth is that we live in a world full of many different images. Every type of technical process leads to a slightly different image and all of those differences have potential for meaning and artistic usage. Highly crafted or completely uncrafted, in some respects the two are EXACTLY EQUIVALENT to an artist who is interested not in process but in image. Both methods have a potential for meaning, or potential for simply getting out of the way of the image's Real Business.
Where craft is useful to art, imo, is in two general areas: often non-art is distinguished from "Art" simply through INTENT (extreme case already mentioned: Duchamp readymades). Craftsmanship is a way of signalling intent to the viewer. A family snap can display lots of intent if it's printed 40x60 inches across. There are many ways to signal intent, such as controlled lighting, B&W, etc. Secondly, from a practical standpoint, craft can give the artists more control and allow predictability into the equation. This is actually (again, imo) of more value to clients than to the artist themselves. The artist does have to eat, however.