Overgrown Shed Interior

Hi everyone! First of all, I hope you enjoy today’s photograph. It’s more from the abandoned silo complex, purposely tinted mint green to emphasize the moss growing in many places and the greenery beyond the window. It reminds me of some dream-like album covers I’ve seen.

But is it art?

Now, normally I like to stay away from strong controversy, so I’m taking a bit of a risk with this post. I guess there’s just some times when you have to say something, even if it’s only on your own blog. There’s a debate on the web about whether or not photography deserves being called art. We humans being creatures of extremes, there are two major sides.

The first side says photography is not art at all, because all it takes to make a shot is to press a button (as opposed to hours of painting or sculpting). The other side says photography is always art because it’s a legitimate form of self-expression and imagination, like all other kinds of art. Which side do I take?

graffiti drawing robot
A photo of a robot making art? Is that art too? What do you think?

I’d like to think the answer is a bit more complex than just taking one side or another. First, photography is more involved than just button pushing. At the least there are composition and other creative aspects to consider. Second, and I know this is a hard line to take, I don’t think that all shots are art. It’s not unreasonable to say a photo taken with the lens cap on is anything less than a mistake. But also any quick snap, if there is not some level of both creative and technical expertise behind it, is questionable in my view. Even a Polaroid can achieve excellence with the right understanding of light and aesthetics.

Is it art? In my opinion, yes: if you pour both your passion and your skill into it. Otherwise? No so much.

So what do you all think? Comments?

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/16, 2.5″

Gothic Footer

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Written by The Twilit Lens

Freelance photographer and ponderer of the unusual. I welcome the presence of mystery and the unknown. Wonder is not absent from the universe, and there is still room for the child in those who haven't yet allowed their hearts to wither to dust.

6 comments

  1. I love this continuing debate! A camera doesn’t take a photograph, the photographer does…. But when is it a simple snap, and when is it potentially art? When the photographer puts some thought, and something of themself into the image… That’s my short version!

    1. True. In many ways, this goes right along with the misconception of hiring a pro vs. buying an expensive camera. Just as professional grade means skills and not gear, so an artist’s skills define what he is rather than his brushes, chisels, or even his camera. Thanks for the input, Sue!

  2. well, seeing I use a bit of imagination in the processing quite often in the hopes of creating an atmosphere or a mood I like to think of it as art- if it’s not art then it must be a vision! The world is full of beauty and can also be disturbing. If an image is evocative whether by camera or canvas I would like to think it is art.

    1. Imagination is a key element. And I would go so far as to say that technical prowess is the next ingredient. The first gives you that critical vision, and the second allows you to bring that vision to the viewer.

      As to an image being evocative, you may have hit on one of the key sticking points in the debate. Perhaps for some, a certain image may evoke nothing; and they foolishly assume that it therefore cannot be art. But if an image is pursued with creativity and effort, it stands to reason it will touch someone.

      1. excellent points you’ve made and thanks for the mind prod!! I enjoyed that post!- my imagination never stops but I need to work on my technical prowess too!

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