What is art? Such as simple question, without a simple answer. When you think about the mediums commonly associated with great works of art, paintings and sculpture easily come to mind. But how about photography?
As a professional photographer and owner of Michael Broyles Photography, I am somewhat biased in my answer, that yes, I consider photography to be an art form. Yet, many people are critical of the role photography plays in the art world and whether it really can be called “art.” There are several reasons for this. Unlike a painting, it is entirely possible to recreate a photograph, given the right conditions, materials, and equipment are at your disposal. Save the negatives and you can make as many identical copies as your heart desires. In art, more is not better: the greater the number of identical prints, the lower the value of the art.
Then, there is the explosion of digital photography and the wide availability of camera phones. With more and more people snapping photos and sharing them across their social networks, the value of an individual image has fallen. What is so special about a photo if just about anyone can use their camera phone to capture a decent quality image of the exact same thing? And, for that matter, why would you pay hundreds of dollars for something you can either do yourself or find on someone’s social feed?
The question, is photography art, can be answered by looking deeper at the intent and skill used to produce a photograph. All art starts with an idea or a message that an artist wants to convey through their chosen medium, be it clay, canvas, or film. The art itself is the vehicle for artists to express themselves, and it is up to the viewer to interpret the meaning or emotion embedded within. Art is successful when it evokes strong reactions from the viewer. A photograph that captures a sweeping mountain landscape can be just as moving and awe inspiring as a painting of the same.
But why? Doesn’t the painting require more time, patience, and thought to create than snapping a photograph? Not necessarily. Professional and fine art photographers are very intentional about how they stage and execute a photograph. Finding the right angle, determining the best use of light (and by association the best time of day), deciding which filters or lenses to use…there are many factors that must be decided on before a photographer clicks the shutter.
The best fine art photographs are a balance of artistry and technical mastery. They require a photographer to “paint a picture” on film using their artistic abilities to infuse emotion and mood into their subject, all while applying their technical know-how to use lighting, composition, posing, and focus to translate their vision into something concrete. And yes, there is a bit of luck involved too.
Art plays a big role in my work as a photographer. I am inspired by the portraits and landscapes of my favorite artists, and view each piece as a lesson, a learning tool to help me progress and become better at what I do. Am I the next Monet? Perhaps not, but I do hope that both my clients and those who view my work find inspiration and meaning in each portrait I take.
It is Christmas in July at Michael Broyles Photography! Schedule a portrait session this month and you will receive a set of 25 Christmas cards as part of your package. Call us today for more details and to learn about additional special offers.