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Is Photography really an art form?
Posted: 29 June 2014 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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LoisL - 27 June 2014 01:51 PM
CuthbertJ - 26 June 2014 11:27 AM

I’ve always thought the answer was No, it isn’t an art. In the olden days maybe you’d have to master some techniques to actually produce the pictures, but with digital cameras that’s pretty much gone. I’m sorry, but to me it just seems like it’s a matter of point and click. And to make things “artsy” you use black and white, and maybe throw the main subject off center. I’m sure many will disagree, and I’d love to hear your opinions.

According to the Getty Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and many other museums, it most certainly is an art form.

Wow, I never thought I’d hear the argument “almost every preeminent scientist (in the X century) thinks the world is flat, therefore it is” from Lois.

I believe there’s a museum in Kentucky somewhere that houses a display of dinos and man together. Probably many of these in the bible belt. I guess that means dinos and man co-existed.

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Posted: 29 June 2014 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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MzLee - 28 June 2014 06:25 PM
CuthbertJ - 26 June 2014 11:27 AM

I’ve always thought the answer was No, it isn’t an art. In the olden days maybe you’d have to master some techniques to actually produce the pictures, but with digital cameras that’s pretty much gone. I’m sorry, but to me it just seems like it’s a matter of point and click. And to make things “artsy” you use black and white, and maybe throw the main subject off center. I’m sure many will disagree, and I’d love to hear your opinions.

I think photography “can” be art but often isn’t.

Art is not about the subject or the medium, it’s about the human expression of emotion and the human reception of that expression. Sometimes a rose is just a rose and sometimes it’s the freaking Mona Lisa.

MzLee

Now THAT’S the most reasonable response yet.

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Posted: 29 June 2014 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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What do you think of the attached photo, entitled Alone Again? Was it taken by: a) a friend of mine who is a professional photographer who works for a web design company that specializes in high end sites (this one being for a site for elderly folks who have recently suffered a loss) or b) me.  Share WHY you chose a or b.

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Posted: 29 June 2014 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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CuthbertJ - 29 June 2014 06:44 PM

What do you think of the attached photo? Was it taken by: a) a friend of mine who is a professional photographer who works for a web design company that specializes in high end sites or b) me.  Share WHY you chose a or b.

That’s a BS question. We have no way of knowing who took the photo; we can only judge the photo on its merits, and that is all that really matters. How about abandoning the red herring and addressing some of the examples I posted?

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Posted: 29 June 2014 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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CuthbertJ - 29 June 2014 06:19 PM
macgyver - 28 June 2014 06:00 AM

Try doing this with a point and shoot approach…(waterdrop)

That’s just a matter of having the right equipment. High-speed photographic equipment I think it is. There’s even a show on Natl Geo I believe which does nothing but high speed photography and tons of it.  It’s a very cool image, definitely, but not art.

You’re wrong. Again your statements are a result of ignorance of the subject and a narrow definition of what art is. You remind me of those who think the only really good art is classic art like Michelangelo or da Vinci and who don;t understand why Picasso is great.

I could give you all the equipment and you wouldn’t be able to get that image. There is a lot more to this than having the right equipment and knowing how to use it. Its also experimenting with dozens of variables to get a shape that is interesting and different, working with materials and the lighting that produces just the right color and reflection. A lot goes into it. I experimented with hundred of set ups with different arrangements to get an image that was aesthetically pleasing.

Art is about seeing things in a way that others don’t and being able to create something that evokes an emotion. If an artist can do that in a way that few others can then the art is that much better.

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Posted: 29 June 2014 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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CuthbertJ - 29 June 2014 06:26 PM
DarronS - 27 June 2014 07:33 PM

I’ll add that professionals are also experts in post-processing. Just as Ansel Adams heavily manipulated his negatives to produce fine art prints, pros know how to use PhotoShop to enhance the original scene.

I have an excellent example, but compressing it to fit on these forums takes away the impact. I’ll display some small images so you can get the idea. Anyone who wants to see them larger can send me a PM.

Before: Nice photo, but kind of dull. This is where your typical point-and-click user would stop, Cuthbert.

I would agree that one can get artistic with post-processing. But then you’re out of the realm of pure photography. Now you’re adding something that wasn’t in the original, which starts to become something akin to painting.

Again this is a lack of understanding. Every image ever created has been pre and post processed in some way. The image is preprocessed by creating the scene, preparing the lighting and waiting for the right moment. It also involves picking the right exposure and lens. Post processing is not something new either. The dark room is not just a place photographers went to develop their images. A big part of producing great shots has always been the art of developing them. My father would often spend as much or more time working on his prints as he did getting the negative in the first place. In fact many of the terms and tools used in photoshop are taken directly from dark room techniques.

Artificially defining photography as just the techniques used before the shutter is pressed is like saying that sculpture is only what happens with the chisel and hammer and not the sanding and finishing.

I am not really sure what your argument is here. By what measure is photography not art?

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Posted: 29 June 2014 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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macgyver - 29 June 2014 07:28 PM

Again this is a lack of understanding. Every image ever created has been pre and post processed in some way.

Exactly. No photograph is an accurate representation of what the eye sees. Back in the film days we chose the film according to how we wanted to render the scene. With black and white we processed the film to present the best balance between contrast and tonal range. We then chose the particular paper to get the best image, dodged and burned under the enlarger to enhance the tonal range, and chose a toner to give the mood we wanted. The only thing that has changed in the digital realm is these manipulations are faster and more easily repeatable. Anyone who thinks digital cameras transformed photography from art to a point-and-shoot exercise knows nothing of photography or art.

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Posted: 30 June 2014 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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You are asking the wrong question. I could show you a sculpture or painting and ask you the same thing. The question isn’t whether that photograph is art. The real question you have to ask first is what IS art?

Why don’t we turn this around a little bit. Cuthbert you started the thread. Why don’t you give us your definition of what art is and we can start the debate there.

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Posted: 30 June 2014 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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DarronS - 29 June 2014 06:46 PM
CuthbertJ - 29 June 2014 06:44 PM

What do you think of the attached photo? Was it taken by: a) a friend of mine who is a professional photographer who works for a web design company that specializes in high end sites or b) me.  Share WHY you chose a or b.

That’s a BS question. We have no way of knowing who took the photo; we can only judge the photo on its merits, and that is all that really matters. How about abandoning the red herring and addressing some of the examples I posted?

Not BS at all. You should be able to judge IN SPITE OF not knowing who took the photo, etc. Otherwise your answer is just biased based on some back story. So if I would have just said “here’s a photo I just took” then my guess is you’d say it’s not art because I’m not an artist/photographer.

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Posted: 30 June 2014 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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macgyver - 29 June 2014 07:19 PM
CuthbertJ - 29 June 2014 06:19 PM
macgyver - 28 June 2014 06:00 AM

Try doing this with a point and shoot approach…(waterdrop)

That’s just a matter of having the right equipment. High-speed photographic equipment I think it is. There’s even a show on Natl Geo I believe which does nothing but high speed photography and tons of it.  It’s a very cool image, definitely, but not art.

You’re wrong. Again your statements are a result of ignorance of the subject and a narrow definition of what art is. You remind me of those who think the only really good art is classic art like Michelangelo or da Vinci and who don;t understand why Picasso is great.

I could give you all the equipment and you wouldn’t be able to get that image. There is a lot more to this than having the right equipment and knowing how to use it. Its also experimenting with dozens of variables to get a shape that is interesting and different, working with materials and the lighting that produces just the right color and reflection. A lot goes into it. I experimented with hundred of set ups with different arrangements to get an image that was aesthetically pleasing.

Art is about seeing things in a way that others don’t and being able to create something that evokes an emotion. If an artist can do that in a way that few others can then the art is that much better.

So you’re saying the folks at Nat Geo who do the same thing, and can spit images like your out by the thousands for a show, spend hours and hours making all kinds of decisions about the subject? Or do they just know how to use the equipment, which I’m sure is no small feat, but aren’t producing “art” every time?

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Posted: 30 June 2014 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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CuthbertJ - 30 June 2014 09:58 AM
macgyver - 29 June 2014 07:19 PM
CuthbertJ - 29 June 2014 06:19 PM
macgyver - 28 June 2014 06:00 AM

Try doing this with a point and shoot approach…(waterdrop)

That’s just a matter of having the right equipment. High-speed photographic equipment I think it is. There’s even a show on Natl Geo I believe which does nothing but high speed photography and tons of it.  It’s a very cool image, definitely, but not art.

You’re wrong. Again your statements are a result of ignorance of the subject and a narrow definition of what art is. You remind me of those who think the only really good art is classic art like Michelangelo or da Vinci and who don;t understand why Picasso is great.

I could give you all the equipment and you wouldn’t be able to get that image. There is a lot more to this than having the right equipment and knowing how to use it. Its also experimenting with dozens of variables to get a shape that is interesting and different, working with materials and the lighting that produces just the right color and reflection. A lot goes into it. I experimented with hundred of set ups with different arrangements to get an image that was aesthetically pleasing.

Art is about seeing things in a way that others don’t and being able to create something that evokes an emotion. If an artist can do that in a way that few others can then the art is that much better.

So you’re saying the folks at Nat Geo who do the same thing, and can spit images like your out by the thousands for a show, spend hours and hours making all kinds of decisions about the subject? Or do they just know how to use the equipment, which I’m sure is no small feat, but aren’t producing “art” every time?

I dont know what you are talking about. You are not making any valid points here. I could make a thousand photos like the one I showed you as well once I get the setup and lighting and everything else done just the way I want it to produce the perfect photo but that does not make it any less artful than a Mona Lisa just because copies can be produced by the thousands once the artist has created the original. So what is your point? That once the original is produced the additional copies aren’t art or that the original isn’t art just because it can be copied but someone with sufficient technical know how once they have been shown what it should look like?

Part of what makes art art is originality. So if da Vinci produces the Mona Lisa and someone else paints a perfect copy you could argue that the forger is not creating art, just a skillfull copy but that doesn’t make the Mona Lisa any less of a masterful work of art. There is very little creativity in creating a copy. Its the vision and eye for beauty that makes the original a work of art. the ability to conceive the creation in the first place

I asked you above and you ignored the question but unless you answer there is no sense debating this with you any longer. How do you define art?

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Posted: 30 June 2014 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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macgyver - 30 June 2014 08:09 AM

You are asking the wrong question. I could show you a sculpture or painting and ask you the same thing. The question isn’t whether that photograph is art. The real question you have to ask first is what IS art?

Why don’t we turn this around a little bit. Cuthbert you started the thread. Why don’t you give us your definition of what art is and we can start the debate there.

There we go. Most of the other posts boiled down to “blah blah blah technique this and that”.  You could automate most of it, and much has already been automated.  To me art occurs when someone decides what they’re doing is art. Plain and simple. I don’t care how many steps “in the olden days” they went through, or how they decided this or that. If someone says they’re doing art, then they are. Now the QUALITY of the result is an entirely different thing. And that is completely subjective.

Now let me ask, is recording a concert art? What’s the difference between recording the sound of a concert and recording the light (image) of a thing or a scene? And please, NO mention of techniques, unless it’s a technique that is truly un-automateable.

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Posted: 30 June 2014 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Quoting Lois:

According to the Getty Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and many other museums, it most certainly is an art form.

Quoting Cuthbert:

Wow, I never thought I’d hear the argument “almost every preeminent scientist (in the X century) thinks the world is flat, therefore it is” from Lois.

My turn for Wow.  I’ve usually respected Cuthbert’s logical and critical thinking, but this?  Really—a great example of a false analogy.  The concept and definition of art, even from your initial question, is a human construct that has nothing to do with objective reality independent of humans and their judgement. It’s existence, even based on your question, is dependent on human judgements.

Science is an entirely different construct, a desciption of objective reality.  One may have the wrong description, but that doesn’t change the reality.

Sorry, Cuth, but you are going to have to find a very different analogy if you hope to question Lois’ statement.

Occam

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Posted: 30 June 2014 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Occam. - 30 June 2014 10:52 AM

My turn for Wow.  I’ve usually respected Cuthbert’s logical and critical thinking, but this?

Occam

I have to say that about all Cuthbert’s responses in this thread. He started by asking an apparently sincere question, and since then has dug in his heels and refused to acknowledge dissenting viewpoints, introduced irrelevant information and demonstrated a close-minded attitude reminiscent of a cultural ideologue seeking validation for preconceived ideas. This could have been an interesting thread, but Cuthbert’s stubbornness has ruined any chance for meaningful discussion.

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Posted: 30 June 2014 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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CuthbertJ - 30 June 2014 10:21 AM

There we go. Most of the other posts boiled down to “blah blah blah technique this and that”.  You could automate most of it, and much has already been automated.  To me art occurs when someone decides what they’re doing is art. Plain and simple. I don’t care how many steps “in the olden days” they went through, or how they decided this or that. If someone says they’re doing art, then they are. Now the QUALITY of the result is an entirely different thing. And that is completely subjective.

Now let me ask, is recording a concert art? What’s the difference between recording the sound of a concert and recording the light (image) of a thing or a scene? And please, NO mention of techniques, unless it’s a technique that is truly un-automateable.

You contradict yourself. You say that ” To me art occurs when someone decides what they’re doing is art…If someone says they’re doing art, then they are” and this after spending the entire thread ( minus the first post) arguing that photography is not art. Since Damon and I clearly disagree with you then by your own definition, what we do is art. More importantly according to the art community its art.

You are fighting a losing battle here. People have debated what is art for centuries. Because there is not right answer. Any definition you can come up with will have exceptions including the one you just gave. Art is in the eye of the beholder and most of the world would disagree with your opinion of photography’s place in the art world. You just can’t appreciate great photography and that’s OK. I went to a modern art museum in Cologne recently and didn’t like the majority of the stuff I saw. That doesn’t mean its not art. It just means I didn’t understand the artist and what they did or what they were trying to convey. That’s OK too. Someone else obviously got something powerful from the art on display or it wouldn’t be there.

Your previous qualifications as to what constitutes art have a few holes. A few examples.

1) You claim that automation or the ability to automate something disqualifies it as art but there are computer programs that can create original works that are nearly indistinguishable from a Jackson Pollack for example and I am sure it would not be all that difficult to create a program that could create a fairly good oil portrait. Are the original computer creations art? If not why not if similar products from humans are considered art? I could set it up next to a portrait made by a human artist and I doubt you could tell the difference. Are you saying that if it is indistinguishable then the human art is no longer art? or is the automated art real art just because paint is used instead of lenses, a laser printer and the artistic input from the photographer? You are basically saying that once we can automate all artistic processes ( or do so to the satisfaction of the masses) then art no longer exists.

2) You are in error when you discount the technical aspects of photography. They are to a photographer exactly what a painters tools are to him. A photographers ability to adjust a hundred different variables to get a photo to look just right is no different than a painters use of brush strokes to create the image he is trying to convey.

3) You criticize Darron for not taking you up on your challenge regarding the photo but you don;t understand why its a poor challenge ( aside from the fact that you gave us a crappy postage size image to look at). I could put two paintings in front of you. Instead of one being done by a computer I could have some amateur do one and a pro do another and see if you could tell the difference. If you can’t does that mean that painting is not art? What Darron was saying is that the credentials of the person don’t really matter. We can give you a critique and explain what elements of the photo are done well and which are not and I can tell you whether I like it or not but there is no way we can tell whether this person is making money selling photos. And by the way just because someone sells photos to a high end stock photo site does not mean its good art. I have a few dozen photos that are sold through a high quality stock photo site and I can tell you most such sites explicitly tell their contributors they are not interested in fine art photography. They are looking for things that have commercial value ( good for Magazine, website, Brochures etc) which is very different.

Your comment about recording a concert I think just shows how little you understand photography. Someone who is recording a concert did absolutely nothing to create the sound. A photographer has to create his scene, whether its a portrait or a landscape or a cityscape. They have to see it from an angle others may not have or in a light that others may not have appreciated. Many of the best photos show us things in a way most people would not have seen even if they were standing right there.

We could have this debate forever but I think my first sentence my this post pretty much puts an end to the debate.

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