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Is Photography Considered to be Art?


Photography is the application and practises of creating an image through technology. A camera lens takes all the light rays bouncing around and uses glass to redirect them to a single point, creating a sharp image – the big debate is ‘ Is photography an art form?’

Firstly, the first-ever photo was captured in 1826; and compared to fine art, such as painting, which was estimated to be in its primitive form about 40,000 years old, you could debate that photography is a form of contemporary art but not fine art. This is a hot topic as of today. Almost everyone has a phone with a camera lens; therefore, some may argue, it is technology, not an art form, as it is available to millions and for a basic photo take little to no skill. 

Many consider that photography is an art of our time. This is due to the fact that the world is adapting to living with technological help; for example, your phone, laptop and your computer. Many people work from these devices and, without these devices, would be unemployed. This links back to the fact that contemporary artists have adapted to using their cameras for creating art. 

Interestingly, photography is a relatively new course; taught as an art form in further education throughout Europe. What you’re taught in these courses is that photography as an art form ascended from progressions in technology, which allowed photographers to use their images to match their artistic expression and creativity. As a photography student, you are taught to significantly change the outcome of an image through choosing a wide range of cameras, lenses, film, and the framing and timing of a shot.

Is photography a science?

Another relevant question that runs side by side with this one is; is photography a science due to the fact that in science you are taught about light waves; how light travels, a reflection of light, focusing on light, colour through light and detecting light; which is all a necessity to form a great photo. A photographer will also edit these photos to create the perfect image which can be narrowed down scientifically.

Does all this knowledge and conjecture actually answer the question? Not really, in my view so consider the following: 

In 1862 a French naturalist, Louis Figuier, also made an accurate observation in regards to photography and fine arts: “Until now, the artist has had the brush, the pencil and the burin; now, in addition, he has the photographic lens”. The lens is an instrument like the pencil and the brush, and photography is a process like engraving and drawing, for what makes an artist is not the process but the feeling.”

There is little doubt nowadays that photography, aside from its enormous variety of uses, is legitimately considered a fine art discipline. Almost any well-known and respected museum has sections dedicated solely to photographic art, and there are a number of museums and galleries dedicated specifically to photography. Photography finally stood its ground and found its place in the art world. The accepted and expanded state of this medium is the result of a rich history in which photography flourished even more by being so closely tied to developments in technology, in the arts, and in the social sphere. Thus making the positive argument for photography as an art form more and relevant as the year’s pass.

The artist Grayson Perry in front of one of his works at the Monnaie de Paris afp.com/JOEL SAGET

Well-known artist, ceramicist and sculptor Grayson Perry is the modern-day equivalent of Figuier and is making his art both conceptual and physical by using modern-day methods, in this case, Instagram. Going by the name (@alanmeasles) Perry furthers the quest to make photography a recognised form of fine art and in turn answering the question. Yes, photography is art.


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