It’s International Artist Day – Is Photography Art?
International Artist Day | Darrin Henry
International Artist Day is celebrated on 25 October each year, which prompts debate on who exactly can be called an artist. How do you know? And what’s art and what’s not?
Some People Have High Standards
“Anyone can take a picture, so photography can’t be art!”
How many photographers have bristled at that comment? Or laughed?
We can all sing in the shower or belt out ‘happy birthday’ but the most of us wouldn’t dare call ourselves an ‘artist’ in the singing sense.
I’ve dabbled about with a paint brush, even sketched a few drawings I’m proud of but would be embarrassed to be called an artist, in the painting/drawing sense.
Let’s see what my aged 1979 Collins dictionary has to say about it:
art – skill; human skill as opposed to nature; skill applied to music, painting, poetry, etc.
artist – one who practises one of the fine arts, eg, painting, sculpture, etc.; applicable to any craftsman whose work is of high standard.
No mention of photography! Haha. Perhaps that’s what the, ‘etc,’ bit is all about.
Photographers: Violence And The Fury
Right, let’s roll forward a few years – the website promoting International Artists Day carries this statement in 2016:
“International Artists Day honors those creative souls that will leave a record of today for the future that can’t be captured in history books. The anguish and joy of the human soul is portrayed through the haunting tones of a melody, the violence and fury caught in a photograph, or the serene gaze of a statue staring off into eternity.”
There you have it folks, it’s official, photography is in the art corner.
But the art world doesn’t live in neat little boxes, rather, the different forms and disciplines overlap constantly. Paintings, drawings, photographs, music, poems, sculptures, graffiti… one is constantly influencing and drawing inspiration from the other. At a high standard, which usually sits alongside passion for the craft, it becomes art.
Strangers To Street Photography
So which style of the many types of photography is art? Fine Art photography sounds obvious. Classic portraiture that captures a mystical mood and stirs emotions in the viewer – that must be art, right?
But then if I think about it, interior and real estate photography is a bit of an art form. Capturing a sense of warmth of a room, showing off lines of architecture, managing light in cavernous spaces; it’s painstaking work and a lot harder than the glossy brochures suggest.
If I think a little more, street photography is also an art form. Many photographers get the cold sweats at the thought of entering an unfamiliar environment, approaching complete strangers and trying to capture intimate images that don’t look like cheesy snaps.
Photo-journalism I’m convinced is an art form. Recognising the shot where the historic value won’t mature for a few more years. Feeling the movement of an event, instinctively knowing to be on the other side of the room or crowd; sensing how changing the camera position could tell the complete story in one frame.
Is Photography Art? What Do History Books Say?
Really, all forms of photography become an art form when done well and the resulting pictures convey mood and tension and purpose.
Anyway, that’s my two pence worth in support of the ‘is photography art’ debate!
Both Sharon and I have a great appreciation for art in all its formats, all its shapes and sizes and especially for the artists whose passion is behind it.
On International Artist Day this post celebrates and pays tribute to just a few of those creative souls we’ve encountered who are recording today for the future, in unique and creative ways that history books can never do.