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Can Photography be Considered Art?

By Edited Nov 3, 2016 8 18

Photography as Art

There are many occasions in which the properties of photography as art has been questioned; one of the main arguments is that photography is just the representation of a reality with the use of modern technology; this argument can be easily contended; the “camera is to the photographer as the brush is to the painter”. The camera is the instrument used by the photographer to produce a visual object, to express their own personal vision about a reality that is tangible to each one of us; now, this does not mean that all photos can be considered art; in fact only a very small percentage of the million of photographs taken each day can be considered a truly work of art.

 A photograph is not art when it just tries to justify or state a reality without expressing any emotional feeling; commercial photography is a good example; they are created to sell, even when they try to put across an idea, the main objective is to sell.

 Each one of us has the ability to draw, even children are able to produce a drawing or painting but only very few of us is talented enough to see their work in a museum; the same thing can be said about a photographer; everyone can take photos, even monkeys but only very few of us can see our photographs in a Gallery.


Prague by Petr Nikl

The main objective of this article is to debate about the different opinions from an objective point of view; not to justify the artistic value of photography; this is why both, positive and negative opinions has been gathered and reflected in this article.


Arguments in favour of Photography as Art

  • A photograph is an exact representation of what the photographer is trying to communicate; a good photographer with a camera set in black and white or sepia taking a picture of two grandparents sitting on a bench in a park, can transmit  a different set of feelings to each one of us: nostalgia, happiness, sadness because you have lost one of yours; the fact that it has been able to move you, is what it makes a photography a piece of art and it can only be achieved with the sensibility of the artist.


  •  When a painter showcase his work; subjectivity plays an important role in what the public sees; this also applies with a photograph, a sculpture or a drawing.


  •  The camera is the medium used to produce a photo; however is the person in charge of the camera and his or her own expertise in the use of this medium, light, angle and composition responsible for producing just a normal photo or a work of art.

Fiore "Artistic Photograph" taken by Damans


Arguments against of Photography as Art

  • The camera is the main protagonist of a good or bad photograph; the photographer is just a technician in charge on the camera.
  •  Anyone is able to take a photo; photographers have less creativity than proper artists; even than artisans.
  •  A painter represents his ideas on a blank canvas; a photographer depends on a reality (an external reality); it does not depend on what he thinks or want to express; it depends on what is happening in his environment.

Grass People by Woo Yuen Foo

Considering photography as art will always be a controversial discussion; many people consider it as a science or technique, including many photographers; others consider it as art; there will be different opinions and they should all be listened and respected.

Whitworth Art Gallery(50777)


Photography as art does not really depend on the camera you use or the photographer as such but in the impact it causes; and even when we are not able to answer the original question: Can Photography be Considered Art? it seems that with the use or smartphones and Instagram anyone can be an artist; probably this is the reflection of people's appreciation to what really moves them and find attractive; or simply the evolution of art and photography.


Best Digital Camera



Jun 24, 2011 10:48pm
Photography IS art...IMHO Good Job!
Aug 12, 2011 2:49am
Loved your article! Very well written. I definitely think photography can be art. But as you've said, very few have the skill to actually make art.
Aug 12, 2011 5:18am
Excellent feature article.
Aug 12, 2011 7:47am
This article could make me feel that photography is obviously an art. Congrats on your first feature.
Aug 12, 2011 8:17am
Definitely art. It's not just about clicking a button. Besides you can do lots of things with digital photography that is definitely artist material.
Good article!
Aug 12, 2011 12:58pm
I think photography can be an art, however not everyone who takes a photo is an artist.
Aug 12, 2011 8:36pm
Congratulations on this wonderful feature article; I'm sure it is the first of many! Great job!!
Aug 16, 2011 3:21pm
Photography is definitely an art. It requires skill and evokes thought and emotion. It shouldn't have to be defined and catagorised!
Aug 16, 2011 9:00pm
I absolutely believe that photography is art ... and I love the photos you included in your article!
Aug 18, 2011 4:43pm
I believe photography is "An art" but most photographers usually just make images of something that somebody else created, designed and built. Hardly art at all as there was no creative phase by the person with the camera.
No matter how you modify an image or play with lighting or effects, it will always be an image of somebody elses creation (including nature). Even so there will always be those special images that can only be considered art and long may this continue.
Aug 20, 2011 12:31am
I consider a photographer is an artist who can see a place, an object, a happening or a person and by careful framing and attention to the capabilities of his or her camera create an image that is art.
The real debate starts when we compare an enhanced picture with the one as seen by the camera.
Aug 24, 2011 6:35pm
I believed photography is an Art because just like drawing, anybody can draw but not everybody can draw nicely. Not everyone can take a photograph like great photographers.
Aug 27, 2011 7:41am
Photography is absolutely an art. Not everyone can take good photographs even with the same camera at the same time. It is the person who creates magic with the object.
Sep 9, 2011 1:13pm
Great article! Photography can definitely be art for the artists that use it as their medium for expression.
Sep 15, 2011 7:03am
Managing light, exposure time, focus, composition, and the varied developing techniques used in photography is difficult. Some of the greatest photos were done by artists who spent lots of time preparing, shooting, and going through negatives to find the perfect composition.

Great article, thanks for sharing.
Dec 14, 2012 4:28pm
You have picked a very interesting topic, one that people will always agree to disagree. Love the way you have shown both sides. And I used to think it was not art and do not really like digitally altered photos . Although I have played about with some. I think it has to be a form of art... but...great pictures.
Aug 7, 2014 9:44am
I have heard a lot of the arguments as well. Being a photographer that works in the creative field, I know that to limit what is and is not art via the camera is just limited thinking. I say this because even in painting and drawing, many commercial works were done to sell an item or product before the camera arrived. And even then it took a while for the camera to become a sales tool. Painting and drawing were still the main to ways to sell an item.
What is art in photography? It is the presentation of the subject. It is not the subject or the purpose of the photography, but how it is done.
A good review of this subject.
Sep 3, 2014 6:24pm
Definitely! It's not just the camera that takes the photo. Even though people can get lucky taking awesome photographs without knowing much or becoming "an artist", the skill of being a photographer and growing that talent allows more and more for the photograph to be seen as a piece of art. As more thought goes into it, or thinking about light or composition in a different way, the photograph absolutely becomes a piece of art.
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