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Photography art? You must be joking...

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Damien_Demolder, May 21, 2007.

  1. Damien_Demolder

    Damien_Demolder Well-Known Member

    So is it?

    Inspired by the upcoming photography exhibition How Are We: Photographing Britain at Tate Britain we're asking:

    Can photography be art?

    If you need some clues have a look at our latest issue (May 26 due in the shops on Tuesday 22nd) which features this exhibition of British photography over the last 140 years.

    Go to the Home Page to vote
  2. bagpuss

    bagpuss Well-Known Member

  3. JDCB

    JDCB Well-Known Member

    A simple question, to which my immediate instinctive reply is "Yes" (and it seems that as at 1000 92% of voters agree with me). But it gets me thinking. Some huge proportion of photographs taken would never be considered art, being snapshots and record shots of people and things. Another proportion of photographs taken begin to get close to the artistic - perhaps those deliberately capturing a nice view or scene, but I don't think I would call them art per se.

    Photographs where the photographer has previsualised an end image and then deliberately captured a specific scene (whether by precise composition, framing, exclusion of elements, waiting for some "decisive moment", even making it etc), or performed a visual adjustment to the image (filtration, lighting, depth of field, shutter speed, or a post-capture adjustment) probably do qualify as art. That's not to give all art the same quality, of course - there's just a touch of difference between my photographs and those of say Charlie Waite or Don McCullin! But in my untutored opinion, it's the thinking about the desired end result before taking the picture that must be present for something to justifiably be called art. I don't think da Vinci doodled idly while composing a shopping list to then look down and see that he had inadvertently painted the Mona Lisa.

  4. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    I know I keep on banging on about him, but P. H. Emerson struggled with the same question, and found some valuable answers.

    My instinctive answer is yes, but with some reservations.
  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I would say on the evidence of the pics printed in the mag from the exhibition, the answer is clear: "it used to be..." :D

    Lovely to see a shot from Suschitsky, a very underrated photographer. And for the record, I also actually quite like Sarah Pickering's stuff - quite interesting, actually - I saw it as part of the Jerwood Award exhibition last year. Particular thanks to Garry for choosing these two.

    My favourite shot, though, was also one I've seen before at an exhibition, this time in Edinburgh - Buckham's aerial shot of Edinburgh. The inclusion of the biplane makes it a classic to me, especially given the difficulties of taking such shots - as he said, 'If one's right leg is tied to the seat with a scarf or a piece of rope, it is possible to work in perfect security'. Plenty of other goodies, too.

    Excellent issue, Damien - a very different approach that worked really well for me.
  6. Hotblack

    Hotblack Dead Horse Flogger

    Yes. Photography can be art. I tend to agree with most of what James (JDCB) says above, particularly the pre-visualising of the end image.

    [OBN]Along with Nick I'd just like to add my compliments to Damien for a great issue this week [/OBN]*

    *OBN - Order of the Brown Nose
  7. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    And a nice clean cover design too. Is that a sign of things to come (I hope), or just a one-off (I hope not).

    As for the vexed question of whether photography is (or can be) art. A couple of years back there was a heated debate on the old Leica customer forum about this. One person was absolutely adamant that photography could never be art as the camera is a mere recording device. Whilst that is true, I think photography can be art if the person behind the camera has that intent, and the skill to pull it off. The camera in that way is a tool, just as an artist uses brushes, or chisel, or whatever. The uniqueness of the photographic process is that is it both recording device (and can never not be so - that's the nature of the beast) and tool for artistic expresssion at the same time.
  8. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Indeed, although of course the fidelity of the recording can vary enormously, which in itself may be part of an artistic intent.
  9. Nod

    Nod Well-Known Member

    Anything can be art if it's percieved to be so.

    Hell, if an art student stands on a corner and pretends to take a photo, that in itself (in the eyes of the "performer") is art!
  10. The Circle Of Confusion

    The Circle Of Confusion Well-Known Member

    Of course it is.
  11. Per

    Per Well-Known Member

    Here's a lovely quote about landscape from 'Mountains of the Mind - A History of Fascination' by Robert Macfalane, Granta ISBN 1-86207-654-5

    "So drastic was this revolution [in the interest in wilderness] that to contemplate it now is to be reminded of a truth about landscapes; that our responses to them are for the most part culturally devised. That is to say, when we look at a landscape, we do not see what is there, but largely what we think is there. We attribute qualities to a landscape which it does not intrinsically possess - savageness, for example, or bleakness - and we value it accordingly. We read landscapes, in other words, we interpret their forms in the light of our own experience and memory, and that of our shared cultural memory...

    ...William Blake put his finger on the truth. 'The tree,' he wrote, 'which moves some to tears of joy is, in the eyes of others, only a green thing which stands in the way.'"

    If a photograph can change our perception of it's subject (like Blake's tree) then it is Art.
  12. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Didn't Ansel Adams suggest that we don't 'take' photographs we 'make' them?
    Never so true as now of course.
    A straight photograph direct from the camera, properly exposed and composed is in my opinion rarely art.
    However, subtle changes to exposure, development(or photoshopping)and printing can make it art if and only if the photographer has caught the eye catching or enigmatic part of the scene in front of him. Art has either to be stunningly beautiful (instantly gratifying) or presented to make the viewer really think (a slow burn of satisfaction).
  13. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    Fiction or Non-fiction

    A photographer is an author that chooses to write fiction of non-fiction. Non-fiction is the factual, the record of what was there and finds it's way into the newspaper or textbook.

    The fiction, on the other hand, is the creation of an image where there is a message or an interpretation is requird, either by the photographer or by the viewer, that makes the image go beyond a mere record of the scene and bestows upon us a greater sense of pleasure.
  14. radiogandy

    radiogandy Well-Known Member

    Of course Photography is Art. The photographer sees something that appeals, or has a bright idea and decides to record it with a camera. Just as entitled to the description 'Art' as old-fashioned easel painting.

    There are gifted photographers and some who are atrocious. Doesn't stop their work being Art though, no more nor less than the amateur water-colourist.

  15. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    Artist or artisan?

    I think it was Lee Friedlander who said something like, photography is the only art form that comes in a box with instructions :cool:

    My brief thoughts on the matter are that photography may be an art but not all photographers are artists! To be called an 'artist' I think there's got to be a body of work and a philosophy to back up the claim.
  16. ermintrude

    ermintrude Hinkypuff

    When someone can get round to a n agrede definition of this so-calledc "art" concept Ill decide whther photogrpahy is in it. Definition schmefnition :(
  17. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    Well judging by the standard of some of the complete load of dingoes kidneys that I've seen presented as "art" then I'd say that just about ANYTHING can be art if you want it to be..................so why not photography! :cool:

  18. radiogandy

    radiogandy Well-Known Member

    Until the 17th Century all artists were considered artisans. And no shame in that. As Ermintrude later says it is all a matter of definition. And as Mrs Radiogandy says "Does it matter?"

    Not to me it doesn't, I love Art, Sculpture, and Photography whatever you decide you want to call it.
  19. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    "I love Art, Sculpture, and Photography whatever you decide you want to call it."......................."dingoes kidneys"? :D ;)

  20. Clodhopper

    Clodhopper Well-Known Member

    Is photography art?

    First we have to define what "art" is.

    It's generally accepted that the Mona Lisa painting is art, half a dead cow is art, an empty room with a light going on and off is art, an unmade bed is art.

    For my next exhibition I will be featuring a dismembered teddy bear, hubby's lumberjack shirt (if I can catch it) & the decomposing rabbit the dogs found on their morning walk. All photographed using something I made earlier out of an old tea chest and sticky backed plastic.

    Fine art photography, whatever next?

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