Friday, 14 January 2011

Photography is an art form - Discuss

 

Happy New Year! This is my first blog of 2011. I have been kept busy over the past few weeks with family duties and illness, I am sure no one missed me ;)

So is photography an art form? I think so, but I am not too sure.

You see, I had a heated discussion recently with a highly talented water colour artist. She teaches at a local college. When I informed her that my lamentable attempts to draw with a crayon could be bettered by any 5 year old; she told me in all seriousness that I could be taught to draw. Now this goes against my beliefs that certain skills, such as music and art can only be learnt to a crude level, the ability to create truly wondrous things is an inbuilt function of a few naturally gifted people. She argued that this was not true. I think she was trying to be nice.

But what about photography then?  First, we need a good understanding of the operation and function of the hardware. How it is used to capture an image can be learnt. This is not a function of artistic talent.  Second, the nature of light. It could be argued that this is based in the practical world and is a study more to do with physics. This leaves us with composition. Now, can this be learnt to a level that is exactly the same as any of the grand masters of photography? I think so, but, well, this is where it all gets complicated for me.

Give 50 photographers a street to walk down and capture several images, and they will all  capture different moments of time. Our view of the world around us will always be different to another persons. So, is the true art of photography?  The ability to perceive something that your fellow human dismisses?

Another fly in the ointment for me is the big photo shoots.  With huge budgets, the creation of glossy magazine covers for the likes of  Vanity Fair means nothing is too much trouble in getting that perfect image.  But is this art the work of the photographer or a collaboration between all those responsible in creating the image in pre and post production?

So, are photographers born naturally gifted, or is it a craft like any other craft?  One that can be taught to any person given time?

As has been said before, are photographers frustrated artists that do not have the natural skills to draw or paint?

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