Many see photography as an art, others will argue it’s a skill trade and not art—personally professional photography is a genre in the arts and if anyone disagrees, then I just ask one simple thing, “Can you create a masterpiece with a wrench?”
According to Wikipedia, “the word ‘photography’ was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), ‘light’ and γραφή (graphé) ‘representation by means of lines’ or ‘drawing,’ together meaning ‘drawing with light.’”
Last I remember, while working on my Bachelor’s degree, I had to take Art 101 at the University of Texas, San Antonio. In that class we were taught the basics of drawing and even briefly studied photography, which was an entire chapter in our textbook—so if university textbooks recognize photography worthy of inclusion, I’d argue photography is an art form.
Pictures vs. Photographs
While photography is at its all time high when it comes to popularity thanks to technology, social media and smartphones, taking photographs isn’t something everyone can do, though anyone can take pictures.
It’s not uncommon for me at a lecture, since my lectures are normally for adults, to distinguish the difference in pictures vs. photographs with the analogy of sex vs. making love.
I’ll usually ask the audience, “Is there anyone here who doesn’t like sex?” I can’t recall ever seeing a hand go up, then I follow with, “We all like sex, even married couples like sex, nothing wrong with that, but how often do you make love? Making love is like a photograph, it comes with passion and often spontaneity; sex only requires participation and is often premeditated. Anyone can take pictures even with a disposable camera, but not many can take photographs.”
Capturing the Beauty of Life
Photography is the art of capturing the inner- and outer-beauty of life at a specific moment in time. When it comes to photographing people, it’s a marriage of the minds between the photographer and the subject that often leads to the perfect smile, the corners of the lips in harmony with the corners of the eyes.
Objective and Subjective
There are many genres in the field of photography, from fine art to photojournalism, on down to commercial, portraiture, wedding, fashion, etc., and all the genres of photography require two tools to begin the process of creating, a capture and optical device. What separates the genres of photography is whether the intended result is objective or subjective, though it’s not uncommon to find overlaps between the genres, such as fine art fashion photography.
Objective photography is based on capturing reality at the exact moment a photographer sees it, like on the spot news in photojournalism, whereas subjective photography is normally based on a concept or artist’s vision where reality is altered or reconstructed to the artist’s photographic style.
It’s Not About the Gear
While there are specific types of photographic gear certain photographers need, for example in forensic or underwater photography, photography in general is not about the gear, it’s about the photographer’s ability to see, imagine and capture.
A photographer must see light, and great photographers can actually feel the qualities of light, plus photography is about the powers of observation in knowing what to see, how to see it, and how to precisely capture it at the given moment. Photography is about creating photographs as an art, not taking just taking pictures, something that is not an art, but a hobby.
So that’s my thoughts on photography and it’s not uncommon for me to practice Rembrandt lighting, which includes chiaroscuro techniques, both basics of painters of art—professional photography is an art form. With that I close, and as always I ask, please don’t forget the men and women who serve proudly to protect our freedoms including the ability to create and appreciate art—God Bless them, their family and friends, Rolando.