Why Photography is A True Artistic Discipline

Are all photographic disciplines artistic? Are all photographers’ artists?

These essential questions are, in my view, as important as those relating to the technique.

It is by trying to answer these questions that we have better defined our work, thus advancing in our projects.

I hope this article will help you understand the significance of photography.

This photo of a torrent in the Smoky Mountains is a photographic artistic approach..
This photo of a torrent in the Smoky Mountains is a photographic artistic approach.

The Different Domains of Photography

Photography can be broadly classified into two main domains:

  • Realistic photography: includes many subjects such as photojournalism, paparazzism, astrophysics and naturalistic photography. In this photographic domain, you report on a scene or situation without artifice. The reality is the most important factor to create the photographs.
  • Artistic photography is an imaginary representation of the real world. In this domain, you use reality to describe your emotions, your feelings, your worldview, and your life.

Both domains are rooted in reality. The scenes that are photographed truly exist. The big difference is that one is an interpretation, a perspective, of the real world while the other gives an exact picture of what happened at a given moment.

All photographic disciplines are not artistic. Photojournalism, paparazzism, certain portrait techniques, and food photography, are not necessarily artistic.

They describe reality and show exactly one moment.

If you practice on of these photographic themes, you must be as objective as possible by describing precisely what you have in front of your eyes at the time of triggering the camera.

In the case of illustrative or representative photography, you do not seek to convey messages or emotions: you document a fact, an action, a slice of life.

When you create artistic photographs, you propose an interpretation of the world that you have in front of you at a given moment.

By this, I do not mean photocomposition or photomontages, but photographs which are corrected or retouched in order to evoke emotions and feelings that you wish to share with an audience.

Well then, what is an artistic photograph? How can one build it? How can it be defined? To answer these questions, we must journey back to the essential definitions.

What is art?

This is the first question I asked myself years ago when I switched from stock and documentary photography to artistic photography.

At the time, it was particularly important to me to understand, in a simple way, this concept which has raised many polemics since the beginnings of humanity.

It is not easy to understand the subtleties of the classification of artistic forms. However, one must have a firm grasp of the concept of art in order to utilize it within artistic photography.

Trying to define art has caused endless arguments and discussions because everyone has an opinion on this issue. Each individual has a specific interest and perspective which has the right to be considered.

If the definition of art were simple, there would be no permanent debate. Because art is not simple, it has caused disagreement for centuries in the West.

Yet, I will try to give a simple definition based on common sense to better understand the classification of artistic forms and see why photography is an artistic form.

Do not judge me to be sententious. I do not hold any truth on the subject, but I have some certainties that I want to share with you.

As an artist photographer, it is important to understand how broad the idea of art spans. This has helped me to define my work more completely as artists, and it has also answered the question of why I feel the need to create photographs in order to show my vision of the world.

First, art is a human activity. This is what distinguishes human species from other species in nature.

Until now, it has never been proven that another animal species has been able to produce works of art.

Art is a human activity that aims to express concerns, ask questions or raise beliefs in some form.

Art allows to translate emotions or feelings that are imagined by human beings. The content of art has the power to allow human beings to express their feelings and emotions in an intimate expression. Art is related to an emotional context. For example, according to the content, the art could make you feel either melancholy or happy.

While art is the best way to understand a people, a culture or a civilization, it is also the best way to understand ourselves either by creating or appreciating creations.

Art allows a person to question, to dream, and to convey feelings. Art connects people in a complex, multi-faceted way.

Art is independent of the medium used: paper, screen, musical instruments, etc.

The important thing in art is how the message is perceived by the audience.

Ranking Various Artistic Disciplines

It is true that the human individual must classify and organize information in order to better remember the content.

As professional artist photographer, I constantly create and implement formulas which I call “work processes”.

It took me years to understand the immense impact our “work processes” have had on my work. Although this formula has allowed me to be more creative, it has also organized my plans into well-defined tasks. It saves me from wasting time.

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This organization allows me to focus on the essentials: create new photographic artworks.

Let’s return to art. Art has not escaped the methodical organization of the human mind. Many philosophers or thinkers have tried to establish a ranking. Today, the following list prevails. It was established by Etienne Souriau in the 20th century.

  1. Architecture and Sculpturee.
  2. Drawings.
  3. Paintings.
  4. Music.
  5. Dance, Mime, Theater and Circus.
  6. Literature and Poetry.
  7. Cinema and Photography.

This classification was established through particular stages: form, lines, color, movement, pronunciation, and light.

For me, this classification is especially interesting because the gradation integrates all the elements which appeal to the five senses of the human being.

However, I must emphasize that there is a more general classification of the arts:

  1. Architecture.
  2. Sculpture.
  3. Visual Arts: painting, drawing, photography.
  4. Music.
  5. Literature.
  6. Living Arts: theater, dance, mime, circus.
  7. Cinema.

Regardless of classification, photography appears in each type. Obviously, photography is a recognized form of art. Artistic photographers can create emotions, convey messages, evoke questions, and share intimate concerns. The artistic photography does not depend on the medium used, although I consider an artistic photo as a printed image on paper.

Now that we have described what art in general is, it becomes interesting to better understand what a specific piece of art is.

Indeed, an artistic photographer produces unique photographs or series, made up of specific photos.

What is a Piece of Art?


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