Happy Wednesday everyone. Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out with Matt Kloskowski, our Creative Director Felix Nelson, and Sara Jane Todd, Ted Waitt & Scott Cowlin from Peachpit at our favorite local hangout – City Fish in Tampa, FL. We got into the conversation about Photography and art, and I thought it worth it enough to bring here to talk about today. The question was simple: Can Photography be considered art.

Think of it this way – Let’s say you’ve never shot a camera in your life. You could technically stand with a person next to you, teaching you aperture, exposure, ISO, and White Balance.. and do that enough to feel comfortable with the camera. Now.. you could go the Grand Canyon, and aim your camera at the same location that 50 other lenses are pointed at the “Golden Hour” and pretty quickly get the picture that the 25 people to your left and 25 people to your right got. Does this mean that this is art, or merely Photo Collection.

Now, before the hate mail starts coming in – yes I think your photography rocks. Yes you are unique, and yes this takes a while to master. Personally I think Going to a locale and shooting a landscape shot to ‘have’ it is a wonderful thing, and for me serves -one- of my passions in photography. Being able to work the camera in such a manner to execute that, you need to be at the top of your game.. but some could consider that Craftmanship, and not art. In that same respect, you can give someone a pencil and paper and ask them to sketch and no matter how hard they try, they will never be able to produce something that you’d say “Oh.. thats amazing.. ” So one can be learned.. another cant be learned.. but are you even measuring the same thing?

If you want to see an example of someone who I believe should be an artist, look no further than Dan (Dano) Steinhardt. Dano works for Epson, but not many people would also know that he is an amazing photographer. Some time ago, he did a post on Scott Kelby’s blog that I thought showed how you can transcend the “Been here, got the shirt” avenue and opening a whole new artistic door. I see his work as Art. But, the whole root of the matter is that Art is such a subjective thing. For example, I dont think of Jackson Pollock as art.. many do.

This was a TEENY part of a much bigger conversation. If you’d love to weigh in, go to the Contact page here, select Layers Magazine Blog from the drop down and let me know. You can also weigh in by sending me something via Twitter- hey.. you may even want to include the Peachpit Crew (linked above). They’d love to hear your thoughts as well. I’m keeping my opinions on the topic kinda quiet until I can form them a little better.. but very interesting nonetheless.

Creating an Eclipse in After Effects, Part 2
In the second part of this tutorial, J Schuh shows how to take the sun animation composed in part one and block it out, then add some text. Click on the link below to watch the tutorial:

Creating an Eclipse in After Effects, Part 2 by Jay Schuh

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  1. braindead idiot (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Art is what you make it. It can be defined as products of human creativity used to evoke an emotion, whether positive or negative.

    Is photography a form of art? Absolutely. Do I believe that every schlub with a camera is an artist? No. There are too many variables to consider including composition, lighting, and even display.

  2. Matt Bamberg (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Good conversation. Art is a subjective genre. Take the guy that screams Bible quotes on the street. Is that art? Some would say yes, indeed–it’s performance art.

    Photography, I believe is art when there is some meaning to the photograph from having it tell a story to having it shock a viewer. Not many snapshooters can do this in a photograph of the Grand Canyon or any other place for that matter. Now, if he does make the photo hauntingly eerie with light and shadow, he’s put some meaning into that Grand Canyon photograph. Then it’s art.

    –Matt Bamberg, author http://www.amazon.com/Quick-Secrets-Create-Winning-Photographs/dp/1598639021

  3. David duChemin (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Photography is a craft; the result of which may – or may not – be art, but I suspect that’s not ours to evaluate. Concern about whether it is or isn’t art is often a smokescreen – it distracts from the business at hand – getting down to work and mastering our craft. Preoccupation with making “art” is the best barrier to actually creating something that one day might be considered so. Or the wine went to my head and I’m full of crap. Could go either way :-)

  4. Wendy (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Scetching can be learned just as photography can be.

  5. Terry Reinert (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    One of the discussions that I had my Software Engineering 1 masters course was whether software engineering and programming is an art or a science. Long story short, my answer was that it is a mix of both because it does have characteristics of both.

    Now to look at photography from a “is it art or a snap shot” is kind of similar. It is a mix of both. Now how much that mix is all depends on the person who is operating the camera and their motives behind the image. Are the images that these 16 year old girls take of themselves drinking beer and post them on MySpace art? Yes… about 1% art and 99% stupid. I am a photographer and I consider myself an artist. But is every photo I take art? Yes, to some degree or other. Those quick snapshots I take of my daughter opening Christmas presents or hunting for Easter Eggs is art but much more to the “snap shot” side of the scale. The HDR shots I take of the sunrise or the shots I take of a model at a photo shoot… those are more towards the art side of the scale.

    I really don’t think about it. I either take a photo or I create an image. It all depends on what I am pressing the shutter button for. But regardless, every photo is both art and a snap shot… just at varying degrees of each.

  6. Bill Guy (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    “Art is not just somebody’s Name”

  7. anita (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Amazingly, 50 people shooting in the same location with similar equipment often come back with very different images.

    Sometimes people value “art” according to the price it commands. As I watch my daughter create, I understand that “art” is what makes your heart sing. So, for many of us, photography is art.

  8. danny kneip (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    had a similar conversation with a friend about what makes a movie good or bad. his argument is that all movies are art, and that it is only good if YOU think it is.
    i have problems putting “cutthroat island” and “citizen kane” under the same category of “art”.
    likewise, my dad, who barely knows how to operate his still camera, is not creating art with every photograph.
    it can be learned, yes, but it’s not all art. just like last night’s game – that was not a technical foul on kobe, but they called it anyway.
    i believe artists do not want to be grouped in the same vein with “cutthroat island” or my dad’s photos (no offense to my dad or geena davis, of course). :)

  9. Janine Smith (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Of course it’s art. It has a frame around it, doesn’t it?

  10. Eric E. Anderson (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    It’s not art _because_ it’s a photograph. But, a photograph most certainly can be art. It all depends on the photographer.

    A Contributing Photographer to Farmboy Finearts… and dare I say, artist.

  11. [...] buddy RC started me thinking about this topic again when he posted something on his blog about whether photography is or is not art. I replied, as did a few others. Pleasantly it did not descend to the usual name-calling and [...]

  12. Sean Galbraith (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    I’m a “fine art” photographer, and a photography gallery owner. I think photography definitely can be art, though I don’t think of myself as a artist or what I produce as art. “Art” is a qualification that others, if you’re good enough and lucky enough, that others will ascribe to your work. But it most certainly can achieve that level.

  13. German (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    “For example, I dont think of Jackson Pollock as art.. many do.”
    Can you explain why?

  14. red (Reply) on Wednesday May 13, 2009

    Have you seen this judging from your blog i thought you might like it http://www.tylershields.com

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