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Author Topic: What Is A Photo?  (Read 3973 times)

Offline DigiDiva

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What Is A Photo?
« 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?
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 07:31:18 AM by DigiDiva »


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Offline Reinardina

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #1 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.


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Offline Jediboy

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #2 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.

May the Force be with you.

Chris

Offline jinky

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #3 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.

Offline DigiDiva

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #4 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.
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Offline Reinardina

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #5 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.
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Offline Hinfrance

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #6 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. ;)
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Offline Graham

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #7 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:
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Offline Reinardina

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #8 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?
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Offline DigiDiva

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #9 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?
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Offline Reinardina

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #10 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."
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 07:34:01 PM by Reinardina »
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Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye.
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Offline spikeyjen

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #11 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.

Offline Jediboy

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #12 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.
May the Force be with you.

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Offline StephenBatey

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #13 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.

Offline Simple

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Re: What Is A Photo?
« Reply #14 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.

 

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