Camera Craniums

General Category => General Photography => Topic started by: DigiDiva on November 13, 2014, 07:27:21 AM

Title: What Is A Photo?
Post by: DigiDiva on November 13, 2014, 07:27:21 AM
We all have our own idea of what a photo is, but im interested in hearing what a photo is to you. We can get a nice lively (but friendly) discussion going here if anyone is interested.

For me, there are 2 types of photos, a memory or a work of art. My memory photos are photos taken of an event or ocassion, of family as they grow etc. I like to think of any of my other photos as works of art.

How about you?
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 13, 2014, 10:51:34 AM
Haven't really thought deeply about this question, but, I think there is very much more to a photograph then just a memory or 'a work of art'. I would personally reserve this term for really great art, like Renaissance paintings, or medieval manuscripts.

I suppose a photograph is a memory for the photographer, but many photos are taken for third parties, to inform (news), as memories (weddings etc), to document (everything under the sun), or to sell (anything, from porn to palaces).

At the moment 'selfies' have become a PR exercise for celebrities, and those who wished they were. And people, broadly, under thirty. Memories, or works of art? Neither, I would say.

A perfect photograph, is a perfect photograph, and we talk about the 'art of photography,' but is it not merely a question of experience, a good eye, creativity,and attention to detail? Is a perfect photograph automatically art? Or just a perfect photograph?
Is a perfectly made dress art?

And can you ever judge art, of any form, totally objectively?

And what is 'Art' in photography? Or even 'Fine Art?' Artistically arranged 'things,' creatively lit and photographed? Digitally manipulated? Absurd things, that no one ever thought of photographing before? ("Ground breaking Art."

You may have opened a can of worms here Chris, as I fear some opinions will clash, and we all know about clashing opinions, in lively debates.


Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Jediboy on November 13, 2014, 11:42:27 AM
For me, a photograph is mainly a memory. A snapshot in time.

I guess it goes back to the debate over what's most important, for a photograph to be technically perfect, or to have captured a moment, a memory. I feel that it depends on the photo.  A while ago I took a photo on my phone (it was all I had with me) and, whilst technically rubbish, it's one of my favourite photos, because its captured my son doing something wonderful. It's not art by any means, but I love it. I can ignore the imperfections because of the emotional attachment. That would not work for everyone.

A photo can be art in my opinion. When all the elements come together a photo can be art, when it's just right. But people will have different opinions on this. That's one of the reasons I love photography - there is not always a right or a wrong. What works for one person may not work for someone else.

I hope there is no argument here. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, no right or wrong. Each to their own here I believe.
This is just my take on this, not a scientific view.

Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: jinky on November 13, 2014, 11:42:37 AM
Nothing wrong with differing views being stated with no agendas involved.
A photo is all  of the above and more. A means of capturing social history - if the camera police don`t stop us all , of capturing a fleeting moment and giving us a memory. Can indeed be art too and I have no problems with anyone using photography for whatever value they see in it. Not all shots will appeal , not all will have value perhaps in our eyes but who knows what they mean to the person capturing it. I heard a snippet of Bryan ferry on the radio yesterday being asked by a fan what the lyrics meant to a particular song. His response was brief " What do I know - I just sing and write songs I`m not a philosopher. You take whatever you like out of it but don`t ask me what I meant" or some such words.

Read the other day that with the digital age all we are doing is gathering data in 010110000 type form. It was an answer to the perennial debate about using photoshop etc and saying we the express that data in different ways using editing software.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: DigiDiva on November 13, 2014, 12:43:12 PM
I started this to give us an oportunity to have a nice friendly debate, to hear others ideas and opinions and expect them all to differ. Im interested on other peoples take on what a photo is or means to them. Im not interested on if they agree or disagree with me. So keep them coming.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 13, 2014, 12:56:34 PM
Maybe you can elaborate a bit, as I'm sure you must have, like many of us, a wider variety among your photos, than just memories and art?

What criteria do you use, to consider a photo art?

I know family snapshots are often valuable memories; it's where there is talk of art, that I get confused.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Hinfrance on November 13, 2014, 03:12:12 PM
A photo is an image created at the first instance from a light capturing device.

After that, it can be just about any viewable 2 (or maybe one day 3) dimensional representation.

As to categories, well, I reckon there are record shots, documentary shots, and emotive shots, all of which can and do overlap and depend upon the viewer's reaction to them.

So your question is really akin to how long is a piece of string. ;)
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Graham on November 13, 2014, 03:22:24 PM
  A two dimensional image created by exposing a photo-sensitive material to light.
  Beyond that how you use or interpret it is down to the individual.
  A bit like "Is it art?" or "Is there a God?" If you believe it/there is then, for you, it/there is.  :tup:
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 13, 2014, 04:36:12 PM
So your question is really akin to how long is a piece of string. ;)

I thought How Long was a Chinese philosopher?
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: DigiDiva on November 13, 2014, 06:02:39 PM
4' 3" haha

Documentary photos. Portraits. Land and sea scapes etc are, to me, works of art.   Photography is an art form. If you hang even a family photo on a wall isn't that wall artwork?
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 13, 2014, 06:46:27 PM
4' 3" haha

Documentary photos. Portraits. Land and sea scapes etc are, to me, works of art.   Photography is an art form. If you hang even a family photo on a wall isn't that wall artwork?

No. You can hang almost anything on a wall; displaying something, on a wall or elsewhere,does not turn it into a work of art.

But then again, 'installations' are considered art by some who (should) know (better). So, who am I?

Photography is a skill. If photography is an art form, then so is everything else that creates something 'out of nothing.'

Edit:
Just found the following definition of 'Art' on line:

"the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power."
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: spikeyjen on November 13, 2014, 09:16:49 PM
I think a photo can be anything you want it to be.
You can take pictures for memories (holiday snaps, photos of the family)
You can take pictures to make money (depending on what your clients want)
You can take pictures to make ART, (using equipment and technology)
You can take pictures that will enter competitions (following the rules of competition)

Mostly I think a photo is about a 'moment' that I have interpreted and altered to something 2 dimensional. And the only thing that is really important is that I enjoyed capturing that moment and I like the result.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Jediboy on November 13, 2014, 09:34:54 PM
I think it's important to remember that people will have differing ideas about what constitutes art!
Just thought I'd throw that in there too.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: StephenBatey on November 13, 2014, 10:00:26 PM
From my book. I'll address the points raised here later.

I'd classify photographs into a number of categories.

First, there's the "sentimental value" photograph. A photograph of those near and dear to us, or a familiar place that perhaps has now been torn down, will have a great value to us regardless of how technically bad it is, or compositionally poor.

Then there's the "record shot", which must be technically flawless if it is to have any value at all. This covers areas such as scientific and military photography, but also includes the "product shot", where you're allowed to enhance reality to make the product look better. And, no, I don't necessarily mean cheating in Photoshop: there is considerable scope for enhancement available with lighting and perspective, as well as enhancing the product itself. If you doubt this, a little research into the specialist area of food photography should serve to convince that not only can the camera lie, and post processing tell even bigger lies, but the subject itself can be the biggest liar of all.

Moving slightly onward from a pure record shot takes us into advertising, which (if it is to be truthful) requires a certain objectivity of recording. And if it is to sell the product, it also needs a great deal more in the way of added visual value. Advertising certainly seeks to communicate, but possibly (in some spheres at least) less in the way of factual content and more in the way of creating an emotional reaction.

Finally, there's the "art photo", which stands or falls by its ability to communicate with the viewer.

Some photographs fall between camps, or are hybrids. Holiday snaps may have sentimental value, as well as being works of art. Well executed photographs of architecture may fall into all four categories.

There are obvious points of contact between all these categories. The same technical questions will arise in all of them, and arguably the greatest technical challenges will occur in the "record shot" which, if it is to be accurate, imposes strict conditions on the photographer. And if the object is to stretch reality a little (as in food photography) then the challenges become even greater. Quite possibly advertising has the greatest number of challenges, both technical and creative.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Simple on November 14, 2014, 12:00:31 AM
A photo is a moment in time.
When you have an image in your mind and create that image with a camera and/or photoshop you do exactly what an artist does with brushes and paint. Some painters are artists and some attempt to be. The same with photographers.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: StephenBatey on November 14, 2014, 12:48:52 AM
We all have our own idea of what a photo is

Dare I say that we probably do; and they are probably different ideas. Not what a photo means to us, but what is actually meant by a photograph. Where do we draw the line and say that photography ends (in terms of the tangible object in front of us) and a different art form begins? Different question, but the one that would most naturally occurs to me as the meaning of the thread title. Christine - this rather follows on from my post in the "other forum" on connotation and denotation.

OK - as you were. Back to the topic as developed...
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: StephenBatey on November 14, 2014, 01:14:19 AM
For me, a photograph is mainly a memory. A snapshot in time.

I guess it goes back to the debate over what's most important, for a photograph to be technically perfect, or to have captured a moment, a memory.

That's where we start to differ. I don't think of photography as solely (or even most importantly) as being a means of capturing a moment in time, of being a temporal snapshot. Photography can be a simple recording medium, and the skill then lies in selecting the instant to release the shutter. But many branches of photography put more stress on arranging the material in front of the lens, and arranging the lighting to suit. The result isn't really a memory in the conventional sense, except a memory of an arrangement deliberately made for a photograph. The photograph is primary; the "real world" that it records was an artificial creation on the part of the photographer to make the photograph.

For many photographers, a photograph should capture a feeling that the photographer had, using the outside world to represent an internal experience. On this view, what's being captured may be of longer duration that a moment in time, and may be almost unrelated to what is actually photographed.

Or perhaps you'd argue that a memory can be a memory of an emotion and not an external event? On this view, is an emotion tied to a specific point in time and space, such that it can only be represented by a specific image captured at a specific time? In the case of your example, it serves to recreate a memory for you, and thereby the emotion that you felt at the time.  And therefore exactly fits your definition. But a photograph can be much more than that; and needs to be to lift it to the level or art. If you don't want to produce art, fine; the question was what does a photograph (undefined object  :)) mean to each of us. What I've tried to express is a part of what a photograph means to me. What you said, certainly, because I have photographs that capture my memories. But I also have photographs that (whether I succeeded or not) were intended to go beyond that personal dimension. Just as in writing an essay might, like a diary, consist of words strung together, but should convey something beyond the purely personal.

Phew! I'll look at other posts later (not that it's not late now - see time stamp  :))
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: ABERS on November 14, 2014, 03:53:16 PM
A photograph has many facets and can appeal to many different tastes. As far as I'm concerned it engages and encourages attempts to produce images that express your feelings and communicate the different ways that you see the world. It's also a journey in improving the way you produce such images, and of late that has become more and more important to me.

Landscape, portrait, record, natural history, architecture, colour and monochrome are areas that appeal to different people. However the limitless possibilities that post processing now allows is an area that I find fascinating.

The family snapshot is something that is a personal endeavour and I keep to myself and close family in the belief that nobody is interested in what my family looks like, born of the fact that I'm not interested in what anyone else's family looks like.

Whether a picture falls into the categoty 'Fine Art' is always a mystery to me and perhaps one day I will see one. I know for some to make a fine art picture means that if it is a square format that makes it one.

Competition and exhibition entries make up a whole different bag and comprise what others think of your pictures, not what you think of them.

Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 14, 2014, 04:29:47 PM
Whether a picture falls into the categoty 'Fine Art' is always a mystery to me and perhaps one day I will see one. I know for some to make a fine art picture means that if it is a square format that makes it one.

Do some people consider a square picture art? Never knew that. I often 'work' with the square format, without realising it was art.

I did this one for a competition once; quite an elaborate edit, and quite pretty to look at, I think, but is it art?

(http://cameracraniums.com/gallery/albums/userpics/11140/normal_DSC05751_Spring_Quartet.jpg) (http://cameracraniums.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=11820&fullsize=1)
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Beaux Reflets on November 14, 2014, 05:31:52 PM
All photographs are Art.

Photography is an Artform or form of Art. A visual semi permanent record created by the manipulation of light....bla de bla   ;)

Are X-ray images or MRI scan displays photographic ?

What is the full spectrum of light beyond that known through the use of a prism?  :legit:
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Oldboy on November 14, 2014, 07:37:24 PM

What is the full spectrum of light beyond that known through the use of a prism?  :legit:

As E=MC2 and all energy is light therefore it follows that everything is light!  :doh:
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: StephenBatey on November 14, 2014, 07:39:37 PM

What is the full spectrum of light beyond that known through the use of a prism?  :legit:

At the short end, ultra violet through X rays, gamma rays etc. At the other end, infra red turns into radio waves etc. But do you call it "light" when it's invisble to our eyes? Electromagnetic spectrum seems a better term.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: StephenBatey on November 14, 2014, 07:41:57 PM

What is the full spectrum of light beyond that known through the use of a prism?  :legit:

As E=MC2 and all energy is light therefore it follows that everything is light!  :doh:

I'll accept that all light is energy, but I'm very dubious about the reverse. I can think of several kinds of energy that are not forms of radiation. All men are human, but are all humans men?
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Hinfrance on November 14, 2014, 07:56:48 PM
Actually OB the equation is e2=(mc2)2+(pc)2.  P represents the momentum of the mass "m"

I know, pedantic to the last . . .

Here's (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnMIhxWRGNw) a brilliant explanation.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: DigiDiva on November 14, 2014, 08:09:58 PM
All photographs are Art.

Photography is an Artform or form of Art. A visual semi permanent record created by the manipulation of light....bla de bla   ;)

Are X-ray images or MRI scan displays photographic ?

What is the full spectrum of light beyond that known through the use of a prism?  :legit:

I agree that most (but not snapshots) photographs are art.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: StephenBatey on November 14, 2014, 08:52:32 PM

I agree that most (but not snapshots) photographs are art.

Unless you define "snapshot" so as to exclude art as an attribute, I couldn't accept that. So for me that would depend on the definition of "snapshot".
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 14, 2014, 10:35:42 PM
Photography, painting and drawing are skills you can learn. It takes a lot more than just the skill, to turn out works of art.

It needs creativity, hard work, a vision, an eye, imagination, experience, feeling, emotion, originality and most of all talent.

Everyone can press the shutter on a camera, and with modern day cameras, everyone can turn out decent photographs. But will they stop people in their tracks? Will they lure people with exceptional beauty, or originality? Will their emotional power touch your soul?

But then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so yes, any image you like the look of, you can all art. Others do not have to agree.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Oldboy on November 14, 2014, 11:48:25 PM
Actually OB the equation is e2=(mc2)2+(pc)2.  P represents the momentum of the mass "m"

I know, pedantic to the last . . .

Here's (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnMIhxWRGNw) a brilliant explanation.

No, it's only E = mc2

Thus, this mass–energy relation states that the universal proportionality factor between equivalent amounts of energy and mass is equal to the speed of light squared. This also serves to convert units of mass to units of energy, no matter what system of measurement units is used.
 
If a body is stationary, it still has some internal or intrinsic energy, called its rest energy. Rest mass and rest energy are equivalent and remain proportional to one another. When the body is in motion (relative to an observer), its total energy is greater than its rest energy. The rest mass (or rest energy) remains an important quantity in this case because it remains the same regardless of this motion, even for the extreme speeds or gravity considered in special and general relativity; thus it is also called the invariant mass.
 
On the one hand, the equation E = mc2 can be applied to rest mass (m or m0) and rest energy (E0) to show their proportionality as E0 = m0c2.[2]
 
On the other hand, it can also be applied to the total energy (Etot or simply E) and total mass of a moving body. The total mass is also called the relativistic mass mrel. The total energy and total mass are related by E = mrelc2.[3]
 
Thus, the mass–energy relation E = mc2 can be used to relate the rest energy to the rest mass, or to relate the total energy to the total mass. To instead relate the total energy or mass to the rest energy or mass, a generalization of the mass–energy relation is required: the energy–momentum relation.
 8)
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Hinfrance on November 15, 2014, 07:21:56 AM
I'm not taking the bait OB; the vid from minute physics gets past those 6 paragraphs 10 seconds in.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: ABERS on November 15, 2014, 08:33:34 AM
I'll take all that into consideration before I next press the shutter. ::)

However a couple of points raised by Stephen and DD makes one think a bit more deeply about the original question.

Firstly the definition of a snapshot. Does it mean literally a picture taken on the hoof, a decision to press the shutter on the spur of the moment without any or much consideration as to content or composition, resulting in a mediocre image of not much interest other than to the person taking it. Or is it a pejorative term to damn with faint praise a picture that says nothing at all?

The old chestnut about photography and art. If you want it to be called an artist, so be it. I like to think of myself as a photographer, once I get the hang of that then I'll start thinking about being an artist. ;)

Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Hinfrance on November 15, 2014, 08:55:46 AM
I'll take all that into consideration before I next press the shutter. ::)

 :2funny:  ;D  :2funny:  :D
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: DigiDiva on November 15, 2014, 03:43:47 PM
A hen party or a birthday party - you want to capture your friend on the karaoke or doing a silly dance - point and shoot - a snapshot. If your friend is dancing in a show for example, then you have to consider lighting, composition etc to capture the moment right. That's more a moment to treasure than a funny memory to capture and reminisce upon. Not necessarily a piece of art though. Hmmmm... making me think now.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 16, 2014, 08:17:25 AM
Singing and (silly) dancing shots can still be taken with background and composition in mind, as the action will last long enough.

I take a lot of snapshots on the hoof, and try to keep composition in mind. It's something I have had to learn, and I'm still far from expert.

I have been thinking a bit, about what a photo means to me, since this thread started.

I am mostly curious to see what I have captured. I mainly photograph 'life,' and hardly ever set up scenes to shoot, so it can be very surprising what I actually 'caught.' Serendipity is very much my friend.

With poor eyesight, I can see the 'broad lines,' but not the details, so I often find surprising things in the back ground. Sometimes these detract, sometimes they add to the picture. In the last case, I pretend it was done on purpose.

I always think, my next photo will be better, so I have to go on.

I do like to 'play' with photographs, and often turn them into images that do not resemble photographs at all.
Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: ABERS on November 16, 2014, 08:42:11 AM
I would like to make an analogy with golf (I like analogies  ;)).

Snapshots equate to the level of golf where you try to get the ball through the windmills vanes, up over the hill, through the tunnel and into the hole via the Tiger's mouth. A lot of fun but not too serious in the world of golf.

The next level up is a well manicured par three course, with flags and a bunker now and then, and people even have a few clubs and sometimes a bag!

Next we're getting serious. A full blown 18 hole course with all that that entails. A dozen or so clubs, perhaps a trolley and a plentiful supply of balls. Then comes the urge to invest in more equipment and different clubs to improve your game, but until you learn to handle and use the clubs you have, your estimated 24 handicap never seems to improve. (Sound familiar?).

Then you start hitting it straighter and you begin sinking those awkward eight foot putts more often and you think "Mmmm perhaps I should think about getting an official handicap card". So you do and enter a tournament now and again. At this stage you start to think, "I wonder if I could make it as a Pro?". And you tell everyone you're a golfer, rather than saying "I play golf", a subtle difference there I would maintain.

Then comes the realisation that you don't have the wherewithall to be a pro, and the kids enjoy a square meal now and again, and just resort to trying to improve and tell everyone "I just do it to keep fit and enjoy myself".

So snapshots are usually the beginning which lead to better things and a pastime/hobby that is enjoyable. It's usually about the Par Three stage that the Artist Syndrome comes into it.

The other thing, as you get older it's the knees that go, either on long walks or getting down to eye up a putt or composing a low camera shot. I would add it's not getting down it's getting back up. :doh:

P.S. For anyone who has never played or tried to play golf this may sound even more silly than it is, so please accept my apologies.

Title: Re: What Is A Photo?
Post by: Reinardina on November 16, 2014, 09:55:52 AM
I don't play golf, but know enough about it, to understand the (very amusing) analogy. You are probably right.

I still consider myself a 'housewife with a camera,' even though I had three photos in a gallery once, and am regularly mistaken for a press photographer. I suppose this happens to everyone, who shoots events with anything bigger than a mobile phone or tablet. I often play along, as it is too time consuming to explain things. It also makes it easier to photograph people, as they often ask to be photographed.