Art and prints

In the visual arts and photography fields one of the most pressing questions people are obsessed with, is the continuing debate on the subject: Is photography art?

Statements such as: “Photography is a form of art” or “Photography isn’t art” have long ago opened up a debate reminiscent of the heated debate among photographers over the question whether “film” was better than “digital”. Photography’s acceptance into the hall of fame of ART has been going on for at least 150 years and will probably continue for the next 150 years. And more likely, possibly forever.

Two rival camps and their supporters express the strongest opinions. They are mainly painters and photographers. While painters at large have already been accepted as “doing art” (good or bad), photographers are still struggling to finally and equivocally convince the public that their craft is a branch of art as well.

In this day and age, at the core of it, a lot has to do with the act of selling of both art and photography. Painters usually produce one of a kind original art, while the final product of the fine art photographer is usually a mechanical print. Painters have a difficult time selling their unique art because of a perceived high price. Photographers also have a hard time selling their prints despite the lower price compared to original paintings. This is due to the fact that an infinite number of prints can be produced from a digital file, is not “one of a kind” quality which an original painting has.

Problem with photography

There are two main groups associated with photography.

The first consists of professional, commercial photographers who make a full time living from photography. Diverse usage, from scientific to commercial photography, make it hard to be considered a medium of its own in the art world. Professional photographers accept commissions and are told what to do. They can execute their projects with great skill, but their artistic input is either limited or nonexistent due to the nature of the business transaction, and restrictions imposed by the people who hire them to do the job.

The second group consists of photography enthusiasts, wannabees, and those who claim to be “fine art” photographers. These enthusiasts create visual images through the medium of photography for their own pleasure without imposed restrictions, except their own. They are completely free to create, and would stand a good chance of being considered as “doing art”.

The main issue looming on the horizon that fine art photographers already face was brought on by the new institution called “Social Media”. With the advent of the social media phenomena, we now live in a world where photographic images posted daily by the millions, are so prevalent that viewers may not be able to distinguish at all the average, from fine photography of unusual artistic quality. Regrettably, this might likely result in the final blow to the claim that photography is an art form.

Part of the problem with photography’s distinction is that a painting is perceived as truly one of a kind. Photography results in prints. And prints are perceived as being a reproducible object. And once reproducible, value diminishes, up to the point of not being considered as being art. At least not an original one of a kind.

The issue with art

At the other end of the spectrum are the artists. The argument often heard coming from painters and their supporters, is that their art creation is made by their own hand, and not by a mechanical device a camera or computer. This is often reinforced by an occasional collector who might say: “Oh if this had only been a painting, I would buy it”.

Painters who create one of a kind pieces that can not be replicated like photographs (unless you photograph or scan them to make copies), fear that photographers creating so-called fine art pieces that can be duplicated many times, attaching to those pieces an “art” tag, are basically flooding the market with many products which diminish the value of their unique art pieces by making available to the public cheaper alternatives for “wall art”.

Obsession with the question

If one was to search Google for the term: “is photography art” they would get the following first results indicating what people have asked or wrote about the subject:

Is Photography an Art Form?
10 Reasons Why Photography Sucks and Isn’t an Art Form
Is photography fine art?
Is photography is an art?
Is photography a visual art?
What is a fine art photographic print?
The line between art and photography
Photography isn’t art
Photography as an art form
Photography isn’t art. Or is it?
When photography wasn’t art
Photography: is it art?
Why photography is the best art form

Some expressions and thoughts

“I believe that photography is more of a craft than an art”
“That looks like a photograph.” (while viewing a painting)
“is photography an oppressed art ?”
“I would like to be a photographer. but anyone can do that.”
“the act of photography is communication”
“If you don’t create the object yourself it is not art”
“photographic workflow is more of a craft than art”
“photography and the moving image is really the art form of the moment”
“photography is too literal to compete with works of art”

The count

A poll titled “IS PHOTOGRAPHY ART?” is currently ongoing on at, where at this point in time the score is: 67% say YES and 33% say NO.


With the exception of providing people with a platform of discussion and opinion sharing, any debate that attempts to precisely define or assert that photography is or is not an art form is very much an exercise in futility.
This is because ART has no credible definition.
Or if it better suits you (the reader), that is because ART has so many definitions which equal to not having one.

Suggested reading

Is photography art – debate
Photography is the most important visual art – Redeye Blog
Art and social media – artgreeT Blog
Prints – artgreeT Blog