Is Photography Art? Why Photography Is Important to Culture, Science, and Learning

Essay, 2017

7 Pages, Grade: 1.2


Cartier-Bresson is noting an observation and a truth. Businesses have grown more demanding and
are more in need of effective still images with good quality. Entire corporations and websites have
been generated for the sole purpose of furnishing and selling stock pictures and videos. A few of
these are Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, iStock, and Getty Images. Millions of amateur contributors
eighteen and older sell their digital files on those sites. Consumers, in turn, go there to find and pay
for images to be used in advertisements, web articles, blog posts, or their personal creative projects.
As an added result of this surge in a need for imagery, the photographers often suffer from a lack of
knowledge and skills.
In the last section of the same Getty article, Roy Flukinger, who is also in the field of photography
conservation, says this, "'Photography is an evolutionary science.' That observation came from one
of my favorite photo historians, William Jerome Harrison, in 1887, and it is every bit as true as it
was then. As any conservator can tell you, things will keep changing." This conservator, one who
has studied many photos of different times, knows photography to be a science and a field that will
continue to change.
On the high end of the spectrum, photography both modern and dated is considered its own unique
form of art and visual expression. In an article entitled "Photography is an art and always will be,"
published by The Guardian, the photography critic Sean O'Hagan writes in rebuke of art critic
Jonathan Jones' view that photos can not be seen as fine art. "Several things are wrong about
Jonathan's reasoning," says O'Hagan. He "seems to think that all photography is derivative of
painting. This is plainly not so."
O'Hagan's stance on the offensive seems more logical and believable, seeing as how photography is
displayed in numerous art museums around the world. In his article, the photo critic goes on to state
a very important view which he holds to be factual: "Photography is as vibrant as it has ever been -
more so in response to the digital world, which Jonathan mistakenly thinks has made everyone a
great photographer. It hasn't. It has made it easy for people to take - and disseminate - photographs,
that's all." Both of the critics' opinions have the basis for arguments and disagreements. Jones
believes photography is not true art, perhaps seeing that it has risen to popularity so quickly and that
its end result can be achieved more quickly than that of painting or sculpting.
Andres Guadamuz, a Senior Lecturer of the University of Sussex, published an article called "The
monkey selfie: copyright lessons for originality in photographs and internet jurisdiction." Though

the main point he discusses is regarding the legalities around the human ownership of a number of
monkey selfies, Guadamuz also touts, "Modern photography, in particular, is mostly a matter of
pressing a button", and letting the digital camera produce the computer-generated image.
Guadamuz's personal take on photography seems to be that it is simply a matter of a click of a
button. But a good photograph, one with worth and meaning, involves much more than that
throughout the creative process. He fails to consider aesthetics, character, lighting, and post-
So far, all the professional opinions have argued that photography is art or not art, or how it is
science or simplicity. But they have not touched upon the fact that photography is so important and
the reasons behind it.
Photography can be a nice hobby, but to an ever-growing number of people, it is a great deal more
than that. Numerous photographers have their own studios, where they are able to perfect their trade
as well as their images, thanks to constant and controllable lighting. But studios are nothing new.
What is a new trend is actually getting out of the studio and shooting scenes in natural lighting,
which can give photos a unique visual appeal. This has given rise to a healthy in-demand search for
photojournalist freelancers.
Last year, LensCulture interviewed Maria Mann, an employee of the European Pressphoto Agency.
In the interview, "Visceral, Emotional, Intellectual: The Ingredients of Powerful Photography,"
LensCulture asked Mann how important freelancers are to the agency, and she responded with the
following: "With staffs in many media outlets growing smaller, freelancers play a more important
role because of their availability, geographic location, and knowledge of the stories in their areas."
Photojournalist freelancers are special types of reporters, people who often have to make split-
second decisions and capture still scenes exactly when they happen through their camera's lens.
They have to be observant as well as clear, detailed writers. Magazines, newspapers, and blogs are
constantly looking for interesting and unique articles accompanied by descriptive photos. An event
or place in a nearby area might be a common occurrence or sight to the locals. But it could be
something which the rest of the world is unfamiliar with. In such an instance, a freelancer on the
spot could be well rewarded. Digital photography has opened doors to exciting new job

opportunities. And if the media lacked a plethora of freelance photojournalists, many print and web
publications would not be able to survive for long.
Jen Markert, a photography enthusiast having a history in editorial and creative writing, in her
article "Why Documentary Photography is Important," says a "photograph documents reality in an
instant, using light and time to reproduce a moment, as it is perceived. This is what makes
photography one of the most important methods of documentation of people, events, and feelings,
both historically and in the present day." That brief statement by Markert could sum up
photography fairly well; a photo of everyday life is authentic, something many can typically relate
to. A photo captures an angle, a look, a fraction of a second or a blur of time which can only be
found and taken once. It will not be repeated in quite the same manner ever again.
Jen Markert goes on to explain how documentary photography, in particular, can be extremely
revealing and that it affects, sometimes even alters the mindsets or views of many people. This is
because documentary photography is not staged; it is an authentic and at times a graphic depiction
of events that happened or are happening this very minute. It "has made waves of impact as a
method of truth-telling in difficult times, a way of exposing disturbing scenes to raise awareness of
things like poverty and famine, to ultimately reshape the public's opinions on government policies
that were often the direct cause" (Markert). One of the photographic examples she uses in the article
is of a young, ill-clad and malnourished African child face down in the dirt with a single vulture
patiently standing a few paces behind. For many, such an image could speak to them emotionally or
move them to action.
Yet another genre of photography is medical photography, a category which includes autopsy
reports. Such photos are used in teachings and demonstrations for new and aspiring nurses and
doctors. In tests, medical students will examine images and have to determine what is causing the
trouble in the specific patient's picture. Most modern microscopes, enabling the user to take still
shots as well as video clips, can be extremely beneficial for biologists. Photographic cameras, such
as those attached to extraterrestrial satellites and the Hubble Space Telescope, have given the world
stunning imagery of its celestial peers and cosmic happenings. Many of the thermal-based photos
captured via Hubble have shown to scientists and commoners alike detailed shots of clusters of
thousands of stars having varying luminosities and colors. Astronomers have been able to discover
and learn much about the universe through the breathtaking images. Dentists and dermatologists
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Is Photography Art? Why Photography Is Important to Culture, Science, and Learning
English 103
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photography, HDR, why_photography_is_important, photographer, photojournalism, stock_photography, science, culture, art, National_Geographic, history, meaning, thesis
Quote paper
John Tuttle (Author), 2017, Is Photography Art? Why Photography Is Important to Culture, Science, and Learning, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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