Why Photography is A True Artistic Discipline - Part 2
What is a Piece of Art?
In a very general way, a piece of art is an aesthetic physical element, an artistic creation. The word, “aesthetic” implies the action of provoking in those who go to watch it the feeling that something is beautiful. The concept of beauty being strongly subjective depends on the viewer’s perspective; a piece of art can please a certain audience and displease another.
In the case of visual arts, such as photography, a piece of art is a physical object that fulfills an aesthetic function. In photography, a piece of art can be thought of as an element within the overall work of the photographer.
A piece of art fulfills its purpose in conveying messages. It subjects the viewer to questioning, to reverie. Art is emotional.
A purely descriptive creation is not a piece of art. Photojournalism or documentary photography do not produce pieces of art because they are merely descriptive disciplines.
Why Photography is Different from Other Art
Photography is a true artistic discipline. It is part of a larger group called the third art (also known as the media art) or the seventh art (also known as the visual art). Yet photography is a different art from others because it is based on reality. The photographer uses developmental techniques which will produce a work that is an interpretation of the reality at the exact time of shooting.
In this blog, we do not talk about the techniques of photocomposition or photomontage as we said before. These creative processes are no longer photography but photographism. The creator uses several photographs to create a universe in two dimensions; a universe which has nothing in common with the real universe at the time of a shot. Even if it is an interpretation of the real world, creation is no longer tangible. That fleeting moment no longer exists.
For us, artistic photography remains an interpretation of a real scene, with techniques of development. The aim is to accentuate certain elements to create emotions or to provoke feelings.
What are the Photographer’s Limitations?
Often, we say during our workshops or photo conferences that simply framing a photo is an act that denies reality. Indeed, when we photograph a landscape or an animal, removing fragments in the framing that do not contribute to the proper reading of the photo is an act that does not show the real world. We choose a frame to show a precise scene and attract the attention of the viewer. We want to avoid all unnecessary details that would disrupt the delivery of the message.
When we create an artistic photograph, the first thing we do is reframe. Then we change the colors by either saturating them, or, in the case of a monochrome photo, suppressing them. In our approach, which is an ethereal and dreamlike, we like to see vague backgrounds and creamy environments as with our bird photographs. It is important that we erase details around the points of interests so that the desired atmosphere is not disturbed. We never add new elements. Sometimes we do remove a branch, a clump of grass, or an electric cable. But this deletion is equivalent to the technique of cropping.
Our limitations in retouching are limited to the existing scene. We accentuate the lights and the reflections. We accentuate details, such as cloudy skies. We modify textures. But all the changes made are always done on elements photographed during the original shot.
For us, these are the limitations that an artistic photographer must impose upon himself upon the creation of a work.
Photography can be either artistic or merely descriptive. If a photographer decides to make artistic photographs, it is because he wants to deliver messages and emotions, to share his imagination with either a limited audience or a large one. Regardless of who the reciever of these emotions is, photography always remains an act of sharing.
In photography, there are limits which cannot be exceeded—the photographer should not integrate elements which are absent at the time of shooting. In this case, he becomes a photographer and leaves the field of photography.
The role of the artist photographer is to share, to make people dream, but the real purpose it serves is as a support. The photographer can interpret it, transcend it, but not deform it by adding elements to it. We believe that it should not depart from this rule. In any case, it is the one we impose on our daily work.