Why: Artistic Photography is Subjective

PPhotography in general and artistic photography in particular is subjective. Whether the photographer author or the collector who buys photographic works, all choices are subjective. They are only personal. If the photographer is trying to be objective, he loses his status as an artist. Every act of creation must be subjective if it leads to an interesting and worthwhile work.

CThis artistic photograph of a buffalo is subjective because the choice of the attitude, the composition, the framing.
This artistic photograph of a buffalo is subjective because the choice of the attitude, the composition, the framing.

How to Define Subjectivity

Subjectivity is the quality of what does not give a faithful representation of an observed thing. We also like this definition which says that subjectivity is the state of someone who considers reality through his only states of consciousness.

The Creative Act is Subjective

An artistic photograph is the result of a particular vision. It is created because the artist photographer makes choices in the composition, the framing, the photographic elements. It conveys emotions he feels, feelings or conveys personal messages.

An artistic photograph reflects the temperament or the moods of a person. It reflects what the author is.

From the moment a photographer makes consensual photographs to please the greatest number, just because it is in the air, he ceases to be an artist. In a pinch, he becomes a craftsman, a salesman. He just creates pictures. But in no case can he claim the status of artist.

Being an artist and especially in photography is neither better nor less good than being a craftsman. As we wrote in this article, it is a particular social status that has its specificities.

An artist photographer must be subjective. If he becomes objective in his shots, he will make descriptive photographs to illustrate magazine articles, books. In wildlife or underwater photography, these photographers are called naturalists.

From our point of view, it is a fundamental and essential distinction.

The Act of the Collector is Subjective

Our main clients are collectors of artistic photographs. We never know why they are interested in our works. When we discuss with them after sales, we always discover unexpected reasons. For some, our works evoke childhood memories. For others, it is the tranquility of the scenes. For others, it is their imagination that provokes a metaphysical interrogation.

Finally, we also know collectors who buy our works because they correspond to their aesthetic criteria.

Each criterion is subjective. Nothing is ever predictable.

One must never forget that an artistic photograph results from a photographer's interpretation of a scene and the viewer's perception.

Subjectivity is not Synonymous with Popularity

The more subjective an artistic photograph is, the less likely it is to be appreciated by the greatest number.

Indeed, if a photographer artist is not seeking a compromise in trying to satisfy the greatest number of viewers or trying to appeal to the widest audience, it will drastically reduce his hearing because the number of common points will be scaled down.

It is true that in right now when success is measured by the number of views or the number of followers, this is difficult for many photographers. Many of them mistakenly think that because they have a large audience, they will succeed in their artistic field. It's a terrible mistake on their part.

During these last years, we learned that we should not confuse notoriety and incomes. In our case, we are not mad users of social networks. We use them sparingly and wisely. We use social networks for marketing purposes but in no way to “show us”. Or to have the most “like” possible.

Creating artistic photographs by being deliberately subjective is a totally different act than being factual. The more factual or descriptive a photographer is, the less he will solicit the culture of the people he is addressing. He will focus on finding the common denominator of the crowd. He will pull the level down. He will then have fewer personal satisfactions to create works. Its purpose becomes to be pleasant and to satisfy the greatest number. This is not the goal of an artistic vision.

The more an artist-photographer creates personal works, the smaller the audience, but the better the quality of his artistic approach will be recognized.

Subjectivity or Objectivity: A Question of Choice

Creating artistic works is a subjective choice on the part of an artist photographer. Creating descriptive or illustrative photographs is an objective choice on the part of a photographer.

Neither choice is better than the other. It's just a matter of choice that has to be totally assumed by the photographer. The important thing is to be satisfied and happy with the choices made.


An artist photographer assumes his subjective choices when he creates photographic works. His choices were analyzed and understood. He must accept the consequences: the notoriety should not be the goal but a consequence. But he must never forget that subjectivity and objectivity are incompatible.

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