What makes some people suspicious about the "art status" of photography is the fact that the photo creation is highly dependable on a "photo machine". I have read a couple of years ago a study by an academic artist saying that photography is not art. His argument was about the technology limitation which the photographer is dependable to create his works.
For decades many photographers have tried to bring photography to the art discussion and galleries to make it more recognized as art. Until nowadays, with many people buying photographs and many photographers calling themselves as artists, there are still those who doesn't consider photography a true art. Or at least as artistic as painting or sculpture.
Recently I saw this question again when somebody wrote in an art community: "When artist depends on machines (not tools) to create; the machines' capabilities are the controlling factors of the joint creations that comes from the union of artist with machine. An Artist's tools on the other hand can be created by the hand of the artist and is not dependent on the bureaucracy of technology."
It is hard to don't agree with what the quote says. It is right.
But when thinking of cameras, are every camera a machine? Certainly digital cameras are pure machines, a body filled with electronics in it. But a true camera obscura is just an empty box, that can be made with any material, with a hole where the light comes in. Which means that it is not a machine at all but just a tool for the photographer as the brush is a tool for the painter.
Photographers can make their own negative (and positive images) preparing his own plate or paper sensible to light as painters can make their own canvas or any other material they wish to paint on.
Cameras, negatives and even light have their limitations as canvas and ink have their limitations as well. What makes people feel more like an artist is the ability to craft with a self expression and a vision for their creation in mind. The reason many photographers still use pinhole cameras or film negatives is because they can craft it with their own hands instead of just operating machines that are digital cameras and computers.
Yet, even when highly dependable of the machine work and capability, digital photographers and digital artists still can express their creativity and vision through their works. Which I think is what matters after all. Not much different from a director who is dependent from actors' works and abilities, or from contemporary artists who have never touched their creation but paid somebody to build the work setting for them.
It is funny to think of it because before Renascence artists weren't considered artists as they are today. They were just crafter-men. Hand workers as any other.
Street Portraits and No Violent Communication
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Is photography an easy way to make art?
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The photo mechanical eye culture and the need of abstract vision