Dear Steve and Tom;
First I will reply to Steve. Steve, if composition, cropping and proper exposure is all you aim for in your expression then what you have described is not akin to art but more akin to framing and technique. If what you later describe in darkroom craft, dodging, burning and image manipulation to achieve your vision, then what you have described is the compilation leading to artistic expression. It is the road every photographic artist has taken to earn the right to call themselves artists. The word artist has oftentimes become used to mean something above, elite, better than not but that is only in the opinion of others. I use the term to describe the "compleat" not complete, photographer.
That is, vision, under total control of craft, to realize that vision and that original vision thus realized,(composed), is the Art.
Tom, I am very sorry if you thought my use of the word composer implied musical composition...Never. I know of no composer who was not only versed in their craft but very often brilliant performing artists as well... Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Chopin, Gershwin and others too numerous to mention. Tom, have you ever known a composer that could not sight read or at the least have some knowledge of orchestration or play an instrument? I have not met one and I was, in my early life before becoming a professional athlete, a musician. In the mid 1950's while I was studying toward a career as a concert pianist, I met Ansel Adams while he was photographing on our Sierra property. While he was photographing a huge burnt out cedar stump, I asked why he didn't prefer to photograph the six beautiful waterfalls and cascades on our property and he explained his vision to me and analogized music and photography. That moment struck me like a thunderbolt and for the rest of the morning and late into the afternoon we discussed music and photography. Ansel started me on this wondrous journey and I am forever grateful for that gift. Tom, I will tell you that of all the art forms, musical composition and literature are at the summit of art in my opinion and will outlast every other art form. I am sorry that I do not posses the talent for either. I am equally sorry that what I wrote offended you so much, as after reading your response, it is clear that we are in complete agreement on what constitutes the necessary components of art.