As a photographer you’re an artist. Never let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Why is there a negative bias towards photographers?
The reason people don’t really call photography “art” is for these reasons:
- It is open and democratic: Anyone can take a picture, yet crafting poems and painting is more difficult to learn.
- Painters paint for the sake of it; photographers started off as documentary image makers. Thus, the beginning of photography had more of a “newspaper reporting” tradition (Magnum photos and photojournalism) than photography as art.
- With digital photography, most people have a hard time seeing something which is easily replicable as “art”. Most people believe that true “art” must be one of a kind (like there’s only one Mona Lisa in existence).
What does “art” mean?
The best definition I have for art is this:
An intentional “putting together” or something.
My definition is informed by the etymology (root of the word) ‘ars’ in Latin (it means a skillful craft). This is what inspired me to make my photography feedback startup platform to be called “arsbeta.com”— I see photography as art! And as artists, our work is always in flux or evolution — in a “beta” form!
Or the photo-Indian ‘her’ which means “putting together, to fit, to fix.”
So an artist is someone who intentionally, skillfully, puts things together!
Composition means to put something together. So for composition in photography and all visual arts, we are trying to best “put together” or “arrange” visual elements to make a powerful image.
I think photography is all about composition. However you put together visual elements is how you create meaning in a photograph. Because composition ain’t just lines, shapes, and forms. Composition is who you decide to put into your pictures. For example, your loved ones. For me, it is Cindy.
Do you like your own photos?
Now, to me, I see all photography is art. But I don’t like all the photos I see. Therefore, I am a judge of the pictures of my own and others.
I have pride in my pictures, and I like my own photos. I don’t like all the photos of others; but I always appreciate the heart and soul they put into their work.
Ultimately, when I look at the photos of others, I don’t really care too much if the photos are good or not. I’m more concerned whether the photos are authentic or not — whether I can see the soul of the photographer in his or her photos.
You’re an artist, and the camera is your sword
Some last words of advice: a “photographer” is a sketcher or a drawer of light. The camera is your paintbrush or your art-creation tool. Thus,
Paint your own reality with your camera.
JUST SHOOT IT.