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Photography: Art or Science?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Ron, Nov 28, 2000.

  1. Ron

    Ron Well-Known Member

    I know this is an old chestnut, but ...

    ...is photography an art form, or a science?

    Designers from various scientific disciplines seem to produce increasingly sophisticated cameras and lenses. Film manufacturers constantly strive to push out the boundaries. Digital camera technology is continually challenging traditional methods. Photographers use cameras for a variety of purposes, some of them technical or scientific and others more artistic.

    Do you think modern cameras help, or hinder, the artistic efforts of the photographers who use them? Is photography a science, or an art form, or both? Do new technological developments increase the number of opportunities for artistic expression?

    What do you think?
  2. tonymidd

    tonymidd Well-Known Member

    Well this may be an old chestnut but it makes a change from questions that can be answered by reading an instruction book or looking on the manufacturers web site!
    Art or not, I'm not going to comment on the Turner prize untill I've seen the images, depends upon what you do with your photography. A pencil can be used to write a shopping list or War & Peace, a paint brush can do the front door or a Rembrant, a camera a snapshot or a Blakemore. I do think that some digital work should be credited to the software writer, not the guy who constructs the image on screen. All he does, and I do it nearly every day for a living, is control someone elses creativity.
  3. Pecheur

    Pecheur Member

    Post deleted by Pecheur
  4. tonymidd

    tonymidd Well-Known Member

    Your profile gives no insight as to your photographic background but your comments indicate that you take pictures without much personal input. Neither of the photographers you quote would rank as artistic image makers in my book but the likes of Blakemore, Emerson, Kertesz, Sudek do. Maybe you rate Hurst as an artist? To me his work is pretentious as is some one claiming their stained bed is art.
  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Photography is of course a science, but the act of taking a photograph does not in itself require any scientific input from the photographer. Much the same can be said about photography as an art.
    My personal view is that photography is an art when the photographer is deliberately trying to create a particular image (rather than merely recording what s/he sees) and this is just as valid for digital images as for chemical ones.
    As regards the digital imager simply taking advantage of someone else's creativity, well that depends on how the image is manipulated - simply using a pre-programmed tool or breaking the image down and individually altering parts of the image - that requires true creativity.
    And in any case, surely a painter uses the product of someone else's creativity, unless s/he makes their own paints, brushes and canvas?
    In short, some photos are art, some are technically competant but unispiring, some are trash - like painting, literature, sculpture.....
  6. Raz

    Raz Well-Known Member

    science is an art....
    surely the thinking of an image or about how to display it is an art in itself,
    as many post modernists will tell you! take gilbert and george, a very conceptual two-some, once just having an empty gallery as a piece.
    contempory art and photography is basiclly all conceptual, many photographers simply use the camera as a drawing tool to document there idea.
    i find it more of a creative device than that, utilizing its propertys to excentuate my idea's in form and lighting etc..
    i personaly find no real beauty, but education from landscape or wildlife work.
    the scene exists and you capture it, for me that really isnt the essence of photograhy, its illustration.. But showing a scene how you percive it, how it makes you feel ,
    whether it be a landscape or not, is where i find the pictures i can gaze into come from; a photographer that truly makes the picture theirs. Art is about expressing your
    "take" on anyhting be it a flower or the world. Art is interesting becuase it is a visual display on how an individual sees things, and how they display it, simply photographing somthing without an idea as to what they want to say, i find rather pointless, it could be as simple as echoing its happyness or sadness, or as complex as comparing it with a politcal issue etc.
    you need to manipulate a scene to show this.. not injecting any personal creativity isnt using the camera or you mind to its full ability.
    i think that photography is an accumliation of using the science of photography to capture a personal artistic impresion. i would say its art.
  7. Col. Hogan

    Col. Hogan Well-Known Member

    Well said.
  8. Pecheur

    Pecheur Member

    Is there anybody on this site with their feet planted on planet earth ?

    I am humbled by the presence of so many artists.

    To take a picture of a landscape does not require an artist. Wildlife pictures are not the work of artists. I agree on both counts.

    What does require a true artist of course, is a black and white print of a strangely shaped pepper, or perhaps a nude on a sandy dune ? Pure genius. Very RPS.

    I am a little concerned that I have to provide my photographic background before I am qualified to express an opinion.

    Quotes by Snowdon (someone has to be on my side !):

    " There's so much nonsense talked about photographers. They are completely unimportant; it's the subject which is all-important "

    and of Jane Bown .......

    " I'd love to ask her if she considers photography to be an art form. I wonder if she would like her photographs framed, on a wall. I doubt it. I suspect she keeps them in folders "

    " I don't consider photography to be one of the fine arts, but Jane Bown is undoubtedly a great artist "

    What I believe is that to make photography too self-important is to miss the point.

    Photographers merely record a moment in time, and to me that's beauty enough.
  9. tonymidd

    tonymidd Well-Known Member

    my dictionary states : art, noun, Skill, esp humanskill as opp. to nature; imaginative or imaginative skill in design... thing in which skill can be exercised.
    Now does that not sum up thinking photography as oppossed to snapshooting?
    Landscapes can be interpretive, especially prints. I find that slide workers tend to be less interpretive than printers. Look at John Blakemore's landscape work for a classic example of an interpretive photographer. Blakemore says that any one can take pictures but skill and personal involvment is required to make images. John is a lecturer on photography at Derby.
    I'm sorry but if pecheur has his feet on the ground I hope I'm starting to fly!
    Wonder if he knows the work of Plilippe Plisson which goes under the title of 'pecheur d'image. Very artistic maritime images; there is a web site devoted to them.
  10. tonymidd

    tonymidd Well-Known Member

    ps Ron, having started this what are your thoughts after these comments?
  11. Ron

    Ron Well-Known Member

    Actually, I started a parallel thread in CompuServe's Photography Forum at the same time as this one, and some of the comments have been quite edifying. I'll invite the folk who hang out there to visit this forum.

    Meanwhile, as regards my views, I'd rather let this thread develop a bit further before stating my views. In order to make further meaningful progress, surely we need definitions of art and science. Would anyone care to have a go? What is art? What is science? Is photography art? Or is it an art form? Can photographs ever be fine art? Do you need an understanding of science, or art, to produce artistic photographs? Ad infinitum ... :)
  12. Raz

    Raz Well-Known Member

    "What is art? What is science? Is photography art? Or is it an art form? Can photographs ever be fine art? Do you need an understanding of science, or art, to produce artistic photographs"

    For me these questions are answerd in my head, but im sure i have a very diffrent set of values to others,
    Art to me is a creative skill, an artist creates a piece of art, for it to be a piece of art, it must have a set of propertys, I.E; art is to depict an personal responce to somthing in the artsits life, if it is simply a painting of house with no other meaning than that.It is decoration, to others this may be art but to me it is not.
    Sceience is just a set of theorys ,the most popular theory becoming fact.
    "Science" is used to describe mechanics or kind of puntual straightforward thinking or doing. "the science of photography" but surely its no more sceince than art, then say a medical operation, all the doctirs tools are perhaps tools of sceince , and he is a man of science, but he injects creativity and practise into perfroming surgery on someone. science is mans obsession to know everything, leaving nothing to writes myths about. science to be science without any art, must not use human or animal
    practise in anyhting to be truly sceintific. The applications of man-made tools are often referd to as the
    the scince, such as the set of varibles on a camera.
    - of course photography's art! Its one of the worlds main art forms. photograph's are more often art than not, its a personal responce to an event. and everyone does it. (what is an event?.. thjings like this can go on forever) i think the naivty of children produce some of the most compelling images i've seen these are truly "honest" photographers. a discussion of honest photograph's is avalible at "photo.net" its very interesting. Yes photography is fine art, it is also documentation, illustration aswell, but most often fine art. i dont think an undersading of the pre-determined rules of art cameras's photography or science, will help to create an interesting image, perhaps if you forgot all these, then the images we created would be so much more fresh.
    I'll read this later and proboly edit my post, its early!

    always looking for new work
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I certainly agree that there is a lot of truly dreadful photography disguised as "art", and I for one do not condone such self-indulgent dross, which I personally find much less satisfying to look at than even the "art" of Tracey Emin, Damian Hurst et al - and I have no time for that. But just because I don't like something (indeed I may despise it and its pretentious creator), that doesn't necessarily stop it from being art in somebody's eyes.
    Live and let live!
    (Oh, and for the record, my favourite photographic subjects are landscapes, travel and macro, and I would class very few of my own images as art - they aren't good enough).
  14. Raz

    Raz Well-Known Member

    i myself, dont condone anyhting as rubbish, as it is not for me to decide, i just may not fully understand its concept, for me rubbish is a creation, with no point.
    if i just painted a picture without it serving a purpose that would be rubbish.
    I myself am not a fan of what you are mr. robberts but i certainly dont think its rubbish, it has its applications in the commerical world. But i see no point in wasteing film on somthing pretty unless it says somthing to the viewer.
    modern photographers dont adhere to, or at least try to break old photographic rules such as perfect exposure and composotion etc.. alot of people aren;t ready to let go of these rules and really experiment and move to the next level in creation. there will alays be a market for classic pretty picturs, but these aren't what push the industry or people go to see in gallery's. I am so happy the turner prize this year was won by a photographer, i hope that proves photography is an art. i quite like his work and although it is very fascinating, i dont like it that much. i prefer much more thought out photograph's and more visualy stunning pictures, i myself still strife to know all the ins and outs of photography before i can rid myself of them, much like a belive an abstract artsit should be able to draw and paint well before he paints abstracts. I dont belive its fair to diss the old ways unless you can do them. ameuter photographer is so full of landscapes and wildlife, its such a shame i really flick through it, i think it should be pushing more creative and innovative photographers. there is all this concise technique how to create images, but surely thats just stopping anyone finding out for themselfs, what works for them.
    what i do have a problem with, is people saying thats NOT art, everyhting is art, be it good or bad.. alot of people i know feel scared to show there pictures becasue people are guilty of dissing modern art, haha for example my mother, she holds a "classial" view of the world while i have a "romantic" view.. i would explain the definitions of these views but i wouldnt be concise enough. everyone has the right to create and not to be put down. As almost everyhting has been done in modern art, nothing really draws attention anyone, except cross self indulgence and sex, this is why so many artists do it, i find it soooo amazing, people are nosey, its like watching real time documentry, its fascinating even though its asthetically boring, we want to understand others, you could even look at soaps for an example. I have been creating the most personal work I've ever done, but its not about me, but my partner and the space we share. if you want to look
    like it or hate it, its an important personal journey for me.

    always looking for new work
  15. Pecheur

    Pecheur Member

    As someone said once in a film - go sell crazy somewhere else, we're all stocked up here. Everything is not art Raz. When Don McCullin took pictures of corpses in Vietnam he wasn't being artistic, he was being political. He was trying to show people something that they couldn't see, as all instinctive photographers do. A wildlife photographer tries to show beauty which most people pass by, etc, etc, etc. We can all take a blurred polaroid, melt and scratch the emulsion, and then declare it as art. That's no more imaginative than one of your boring landscapes, it's just more contrived. You shouldn't react so sensitively to these threads anyway - if your work is good enough in your chosen style, and you persevere, you will get somewhere. There's no need for you to try and justify it. I like creative photography, but there's a very thin line sometimes between the good stuff and the trash.
  16. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that it really doesn't matter if photography is art or not.There are many challenging, thought provoking images that were intended as art by the photographer, and many that were designed to have other uses. As I said, just because I have a personal opinion about certain "works of art" doesn't make them better or worse - it's only my opinion, which is just as valid or invalid as anyone else's. I certainly don't object to people making work I don't like - that's their perogative, and it's mine not to like it! It also gives me a reference point to set my critical standards by.
    I think that there's some excellent art photography in advertising these days, but frankly I would rather relax admiring the work of, say, Joe Cornish, who to me continues in the footsteps of artists such as Turner (in that he tries to portray landscapes in as awe-inspiring way as possible, rather than that I think his images are "fine art") than the work of Hurst, Emin etc.
    Whether either is art is completely unimportant to me, personally - all I care about is "Do I like it?".
    I will have a look at your stuff, Raz, but remember - whether I like it or not, whether I think it's art or not, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Good luck!

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