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What Makes Photography Art? Join The Debate

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To answer the ongoing debate on what makes photography art, we must first define the noun, Art.

Art = The expression or application of a person’s creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as a sculpture or painting, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Notice that it is an expression of someone’s creative skill and imagination. These are two words that make art truly subjective to the artist. Why? Because talent and creativity vary from person to person.

Let’s, drive into the – is photography art debate.

Table of Contents

Creative Skills Turns Photography Into Works Of Art

In photography, a person can be skilled in all the technical aspects of a $3k digital camera but not know how to take a good photo with a $500 cell phone.

While a cell phone photographer can take amazing images with an iPhone, he or she may not know what to do with a professional camera. Thus… skill varies.

Personally, I leave the photo taking to my husband, since regardless of what I hold in my hand, professional camera, or an iPhone, my images can not compare to his level of skill.

One thing which will help bring out your creative side is to envision what you would like to capture as framed pieces of art ready to be displayed to the masses. What in the world does that mean?

Since a photograph is worth a thousand words, I’ll explain what I mean by comparing two photographs side by side. Both are beautiful; however, one is captivating and worthy of showing off to anyone not related to the subject.

Photography is art

The photographer took the photo with intent. In other words, this captured image took planning, effort, and many takes. The time and effort put into producing an image of this caliber displays both creative skill and imagination.

When displaying family photos on walls of clients’ homes, my eye will choose images with a wow factor and ones that are artistic rather than ordinary. Doing so elevates the design in the room.

The Emotional Power Behind Photography

Imagination is even more subjective. For example, have you ever looked at a painting and wondered about its artist; “what in the world was he thinking?” That is not to say the artist of that particular painting has no imagination. 

It just means that you did not clearly see his vision, perhaps because it did not appeal to your emotions.

This brings me to the second half of the definition of Art, namely: “…producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

Does this phrase sound familiar, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” I think you’d agree that this statement says it all.

I mean, would you pay for a painting that cost $500 if when you initially saw it, you didn’t jump out and say… “OMG, that is Beautiful!”

Conversely, would you be more apt to pay that price if it were a 36″ X 24″ photo of YOUR child caught on camera doing what he loves best? And it just so happens that the lighting and camera settings were perfect for making the subject pop out of the photo.

Some may choose the latter because it has what the definition of art says it should… “emotional power.”

Think about it, if you had a choice of 2 photos to place on your wall, which would you choose, a copy of the Mona Lisa or a captured moment of your wedding day that stirs in you happy emotions?

Photography becomes art during weddings
We captured this image while photographing a friends wedding.

The answer to that question will vary from person to person. At the end of the day, we hang Art on the wall because we want to see it there. Mainly because of the emotional power it has on us.

The Gift Of Photography

Ironically while writing this post, my friend sent a photo of the two us enjoying a glass of wine while on vacation together. That image brought me immediate joy. It also confirms that my friendships strengthen as time goes on, although “life” has put physical distance between us.  

Photography provides us the opportunity to capture a moment in time. A moment that can now be replayed forever and ever.

We all have this fantastic skillset inside each of us to take beautiful images and gift them. These are things that are within our capabilities, and personally I believe nothing can compare to opening a gift box and reliving a moment someone capture.

It’s powerful, not just for the receiver but also for the giver. We should be giving the gift of photography wayyyyyyy more often.

Because I feel so passionate about it, I wanted to challenge my readers to give the gift of photography to one person this week. It can be a postcard, a small photo printed locally, or something more unique.

The cost is not of importance – it’s about the ACT. The act of giving the gift of photography.

In Conclusion

The long and short of what makes photography art is – if a photograph has the WOW factor that stirs your emotions and has made its way to occupy the real estate of your walls – then it is ART! 

The field of photography, as a whole, fought a fierce and controversial battle to become an art form. Its diverse usage from commercial photography to scenic images and mass production of digital cameras has made it difficult for this medium to earn its place in the art world.

How will we conclude the is photography art debate?

Today, photography is considered as much of an art form as any other medium. In fact, there are countless galleries and museums dedicated to displaying photographic work.

If you need advice on Ways To Decorate A Large Living Room Wall, you will find that post helpful.

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Die-hard DIYer, home enthusiast and sometimes I cook :-)

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