Lecture 2 – Can Photography be art?

In my opinion, Photography is art, but through out the ages this has been a hugely controversial debate. In our lecture we looked how opinions and practices had changed in regards to the question that is regularly asked.

Through the centuries art has influenced photographic practices greatly.  In the early days of photography there was a clear line between the two, as to start with photographers where just concerned with the science of capturing the image rather than what it may represent.  It started changing after the capture process was more accurate, with photographers starting to be influenced and copying paintings. Nader was a big influence saying that “the use of light was the arctic nature of photography”.  It also happened the other way also with impressionist painters using the viewfinder style views to start leaving certain things out of a scene concentrating on more specifics.

Robinson and Rejlander also started the pictorial effect the first movement in photography, using combination prints to include what they wanted in an image just like an artist can pick and choose what they want in a scene. Cameron also used soft focus as an artistic effect although she was heavily criticised for it. Even early on we can see that photographers were greatly influenced by art. It isn’t surprising though as many early photographers where classically trained artists.

Emerson commented photography wasn’t art, and only could become its own art form if it wasn’t compared to paintings. He thought that photos shouldn’t be completely sharp, preferring instead to use selective focus, just like the eye, it was emerson who started the realism movement.

The last thing that many people believed made photography art, was developing film themselves, and deciding how the picture should look during processing. The invent of the kodak camera brought about the amateur as it could be sent back to be developed. Professionals saw themselves as artists and amateurs as snap shooters.

Today I think the debate has died down some what with many different forms of art crossing over, and rightly so. Many organisation and individuals call them selves artists but have become more of a jack of all trades rather than a master of one.




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