Is photography “Art” ?

Is photography Art ?

avat3-2A discussion that has been around as long as photography exists.

Here is my take on it; original painters, sculptors and goldsmiths were craftsmen, and nowadays we call them artists.

Those who mastered the skills, were allowed to call themself “ Master”. Never the less they worked on orders, and like every self respecting craftsmen or master they tried to make the best money out of it.

The top of the masters became so popular that they needed to hire assistants that would work in the ateliers. Once the job was completed the master himself would sign it. To make it short they were businessmen.

Today we call those folks “Artists” and what they produce is Art.

The beautiful paintings and sculptors from the past that survived the times are important to our culture and history.We tend to call those works today “art”, but we should not forget that the label “Art” was assigned much later and by others then the creator itself.

Today, people who acquire an academy degree are called “ Masters in….” , just like the old time craftsmen. These young photographers work hard year after year until they complete their “Masters proof”. If they succeed they may carry the title.  And just like in the renaissance some are true master who create fantastic work. However there are others and only time will tell who was important to define our times. It is only the work of the chosen that can be called “Art”.

“Art” is not a quality label.

Flashsplash FotografieWhat about today’s photographers who call themselves  “Artists”?

I don’t think that anybody can judge if something is art or not, in the sense that it has an ever lasting value. And certainly not the artist himself; as his emotional ties are just too intense with the work.

The label “Art” does do two things; It is a means to bring his work onto the marked and secondly because being an “artist” is hip. The label is often abused for creations that are of less quality in an effort to cover up the lack of skills and craftsmanship. Art has become a sales and business argument.

Pro’s and amateurs

The difference is not between pro’s and amateurs, oh no. It is the quality norm. Pro’s who do not meet a certain quality in their work, will sell it gladly as “Art”. Business is business, and that on itself is not an issue as long as one knows that it is just business and not a quality label.  One could wonder if that is not a contradiction on the definition of Art?

Should Art not entail Quality?

Real quality does not always gets a chance.

Besides the artificial value of a creation and the title “Artist”, it is often used as a leverage mechanism within certain groups through lobbying.  The more bizarre one is behaving the better it works.  A method often used when the “artist” is after a well-paid job as a docent.  Knowing the right people, praise and honor because of their Artwork and not because their skills and craftsmanship always works.

I see to often on forums and clubs so called “Artist”, for me that is a misuse or even an abuse of the term “Artist” which stands for quality and is timeless. A real master does not need the label “Artist”, they will get it long after they died. I consider the term Artist as kind of honorable title. One you must earn.

And that is why today’s photography is not art. The label Art is often a cover-up for the lack of quality.  It trivializes the real meaning of photography.  I consider photography as a method of bringing stories in pictures, in a crafted manner without pretention.  Is it Art or not is something for the next generations to tell.

Thanks for reading,



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