Why Photography is Still an Art

Why Photography is Still an Art

By Laura Mooney, Arts Editor

Today when you look at a photograph, there is a great chance that it was either taken on a phone, posted on Instagram, and/or is of food. The once respected art of photography in recent years has been taken over (some would say sullied) by the ease of taking a beautiful picture and posting your “work” for the world to see. Thanks to the advanced technology now offered on the average cell phone, anybody can take a picture and automatically change the filter they use, use auto-touch up, or remove unwanted images all in a matter of seconds, thus creating an impeccable picture that rivals the quality produced by professional photographers. These advances in technology led to a flux in people taking photos, which in turn led to an increase in people calling themselves photographers. Because of this, there has become almost a stigma related to those who are trying to be “photographers,” with the assumption being that now anyone can pick up a camera and call himself or herself a professional.

What seems to be forgotten is that amongst the mass of teens and hipster adults now wandering around with vintage Polaroid cameras snapping pictures of everything, there is an actual talent involved with capturing an image, and it is not about relying on the equipment to produce a quality shot. When one examines some of the more famous photos in the world, there is so much going on in them underneath the main image one sees at first glance.

The artist must make sure that everything is absolutely perfect before they even think about picking up the camera. The lighting, the subject, the angle; everything must be precise. Only then can the actual photography session be started. Just as the painter must consider every possible outcome with their painting, the photographer must think of the photo as capturing a living moment, where even the slightest pause can alter that moment creating something completely different from what they intended. Whether that outcome is a positive or negative one may be up to the photographer’s discretion, but the result will always be different.

This sense of control over the work of art produced by a photographer is something that has been lost on the generation of people who consider themselves photographers for posting a few ill-filtered pictures online. The patience that comes with achieving the perfect image has been replaced with website upon website of images featuring fancy dinners and selfies. It is because of this that the claim to be a photographer is no longer met with appreciation. Instead it is received with raised eyebrows and the assumption that you simply push a button. The idea that photos could belong in a museum with the finest of paintings is a fading ideal, and is an unfortunate one at that. From the iconic images on Time Magazine to magnificent nature shots by Andy Rouse, photographs can be works of art. As a generation, we seem to be forgetting that the pictures we see on a daily basis should not even be considered in the same category as what photographers do.

Let us not forget that photography is still, in fact, an art form, and let us not allow it to be reduced to a medium found only on the Internet via iPhone apps. Although applications such as Instagram have revolutionized the way we capture the world around us, it should not be considered an art form and in no way should it be allowed to diminish how the world views photographers and the art they produce.