I seem to have crossed paths with three views concerning photography and art and how they may or may not be connected.  The first view is that photography is not an art because it is produced with a mechanical device and by chemical and physical phenomenon not by hand and inspiration. The second view is that photographs would be useful to art but should not be equal in creativeness to painting and drawing. The final theory is that because photography is so similar to lithography and etching then it would be beneficial to the arts as well as culture.

I guess I’ll leave that debate for someone else…maybe you.

However, I do recognize the difference between “Joe Camera” taking a picture cluttered with distracting backgrounds, tilting horizons, and unintended lighting fiascos that would frighten even the staunchest of special effects engineers; and the landscape artistry of Philip Hyde or Ansel Adams.  So since it seems to require some form of giftedness, it would seem to qualify as an art form on some level.

But even if that is the case (and I leave that debate for you), how far can it be taken?  In other words, with the capability of photographic manipulation can our photography be taken to even higher artistic levels?

This past weekend I decided to visit the Sherman Library Gardens in Newport Beach, California.   As gardens go, I suppose this one would be considered very small.  And yet, possibly because of its quaintness, I found it to be surprisingly serene.  Neither image I’m presenting in this post is straight out of the camera.  The first has gone through some usual editing techniques to create a path leading to the focal point of the image…

The Sherman Library Gardens - Newport Beach, California

…while the second image has experienced further manipulation to create a much more contemporary abstract.

The Sherman Library Gardens - Newport Beach, california

These images may or may not appeal to you.  That’s OK!  Interestingly, I can find appeal in both of them.  I tend to consider each image as to how it is presented and how it may relate within the overall composition of its surroundings.  Without that decorative cohesiveness, either image might seem uninteresting and out of place!

This site has been fortunate to attract both purists and what one might call more progressive (for lack of a better term) photographers, which works masterfully to create lively discussion.

So, let’s see where this will take us.  And as usual, please feel free to comment on the images.


~ by photographyfree4all on March 14, 2011.


  1. Nice post 🙂
    Personally, I DO think that photography is an art because you can express yourself in it. When artists paint something they have invented there is some sense of personality. Say a photographer took a picture of a landscape but then another one took a picture of a mug of coffee from Starbucks. You grab a hint from this about the two people’s personalities. Life is a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing is art. Art is photography which appreciates those beautiful things.


  2. Photography IS an art form, as much as painting, sculpting, dance, poetry, etc…! If not, then anyone could pick up a camera and take breathtaking photos! These are both beautiful images – the first one, I could envision maybe in a “Country French” atmosphere, while the second one could be in a more “modern” environment. Both are very well done!


  3. I agree with your thought process here, Pany! What I shoot is a definite depiction of who I am and what I like!! And, I do have to become creative in many ways in order to produce something appealing! After all, an artist only need walk to his/her canvas to begin the creative process. I may have to travel several hundred miles to begin the creative process. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comment, Pany! It’s a great one! Come on back from time to time!


  4. I agree I see the beauty in both. In the natural, and the second one enhanced. I can see that flower, from the second print, in a story book. A childrens story. It is all in the interpretation, and every one does have a different outlook.


  5. p.s. It would be called the tiger, that came out of a flower….lol


  6. Both images look like works of art to me!


  7. Did you watch Prof Michael Sandel lecturing from Harvard on the Justice programme? I think he proved that many, many subjects have been debated since time began and there will NEVER be an ultimate answer. There is NO answer to some ponderings. It’s a personal decision what to think.

    I think the definition of Art is when you take something visual to a highly elevated level and succeed by doing something no one has ever done before. It could be laying a table.

    And the photography / art debate is one of those subjects. Personally I think some people MAKE it an art. I definitely think it’s an art – and a very fine one too. So is creating amazing interiors and gardens and so much more.

    I get so sick of the Art Elite pontificating with their unbelievable snobbiness – declaring that for example, Tracy Emmin is so brilliant and that Jack Ventriano is rubbish. The public know best and we know who we think if brilliant and don’t need them to try and over-shout us!


  8. photography is an art form.
    that’s what I’m sure about.
    Not all people with a brush is a painter, and not all people with a camera are photographers.
    So it depends on each person if they’re making an art with their camera.


  9. This is exactly what I think too, Holly! I believe most photographers probably believe this, but I sometimes wonder about those who would paint, draw, or sculpt. Thank you for your kind words here! I was really happy with the way these turned out. Great comment!


  10. That is so true! I can see that! 🙂


  11. Great comment, Elena! You’ve taken the image and immediately gone into your thought process! Great creativity! Thanks!


  12. That’s very high praise, KKH! Thank you so much! I’m glad you take the time to visit my blog and share your thoughts here! I really appreciate it! 🙂


  13. I never thought of that, Saphire! Not everyone that brushes paint is an artist. And not everyone with a camera is an artist. But in both instances – some are!! Thanks for making this point! It’s a great one.


  14. I think photography is both an art and a craft. One is a matter of personality — an expression of the photographer — which is the art. The other, the craft, is the skill involved. While almost anyone can learn the skill, I’m not sure that’s true of the art aspect.

    I have an artist friend who thinks of drawing and painting in the same way (those are her talents, btw). She claims ANYONE can draw. It’s a skill and requires practice. What differentiates drawing from what some call art is the expression of the artist, or the artist’s way of interpreting what they see.

    That’s generally how I see photography: As an expression of myself and an interpretation of what I see. That said, not every photo I take is art. Sometimes I’m merely keeping a record of my travels or a project or something along those lines.

    I like both photos, Steve. Different looks but both are beautiful and (to me) art. 🙂


  15. This is an excellent comment, Robin!! I think you have said it very well! It is a combination of expression and skill! Thank you so much for adding this comment – greta job!


  16. Steve, you ask interesting questions. Some people misinterpret the whole concept when they put the words art and photography n the same sentence. Firstly, you post title is skewed in one direction, because not only can you create “art” from a photograph, but there are aspects of photography that is “art”. The images you used are a great example, the first one is a photograph and is (arguably) very artistic in its execution making it a work of art for those who appreciate it as I do. The second image is no longer a photograph, but art created from a photograph, there is and must be a distinction.
    Anyone can take a camera point at at a scene and press the shutter button, but not everyone will come away with art, most of us will bring back a “snapshot” of the scene, recording it as the camera sees it, but others (and you HAVE to include yourself here) will LOOK at the scene, compose for a pleasing image, and process the resulting image to reflect what they have seen and felt, that is a photograph and that is the art of photography. 🙂


  17. Michael, I love the way you explain/interpret your art philosophy! Your comments and compliments are so kind! You may never realize the encouragement they’ve been to me. Thank you! This was a great comment that I would like to consider as a future guest post, if you like. Thanks for all of your contributions!


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