10 Reasons Why Photography Sucks and Isn’t an Art Form

The wishing well

2009-12-20 Update: This article is #1 in Google for “photography sucks,” so I see why it gets so many comments. Don’t take me too seriously. Photography is really an art form and I am playing devil’s advocate here. :smile:

“I wish photography could be an art form. I love it so much, but it’s just too easy. If only there were some way to mentally cripple the majority of the population from being able to take beautiful photos, or if I could make the craft so needlessly difficult to only be accessible to a tiny few. Maybe then I can trick others into thinking I have talent where there is none. Oh photography, why must you be so simple and uncomplicated!”

We’ve been tricked—all of us—into believing that photography is an art form requiring skill, talent, patience, and “the eye,” when outside of fairy land, it requires no more skill or talent than driving a car, or pushing buttons on an elevator. What kind of art form would have these ten traits?

1. Anyone can do it. While we’ve not proven the infinite monkey theorem for reproducing Shakespeare’s Hamlet, surely a monkey could take a good, interesting photo. In fact, with today’s auto-focusing, auto-metering, easy-to-use cameras, I have no doubt that a monkey, with some practice, could take a photo as good as Sunrays or The Red-Brick House. Do you like doing the job of a monkey?

2. No talent involved. You’re in a good place, you take a good picture. You’re in a bad place; you get nothing. It doesn’t matter if you have passion or willpower. If someone else is in the right place at the right time, they can easily capture the moment just as well, even if they’ve been handed a camera for the first time. You can’t say the same about any real art form, like playing the piano, or drawing, or sculpting, which require years of experience and practice.

3. No creativity. When you take a photo, you’re using a tool to save a copy of a scene. You’re creating nothing and the camera’s creating nothing. If the camera does create something, it isn’t art—it’s a defect. The more you protest that your badly-composed, out-of-focus pictures bear your unique artistic sensibilities, the more you satisfy your own delusions. Photography is about as creative as mowing the lawn (and if you think that’s creative, then you have my sympathy).

4. It doesn’t help you to look at the world differently, no more than painting, or sketching, or kayaking, or any other hobby. If anything, your view of the world narrows, because you’re stuck looking at it through your narrow viewfinder.

5. It’s an art that’s not a science, and a science that’s not an art. If my five-year-old sister can cover my job on our vacation to Disney world, then what kind of science is that? Normal scientific processes are torturous and difficult to master, like constructing a high-rise bridge or installing an Olympic-size swimming pool. Scientific arts like performing a complex piano piece or crocheting a beautiful sweater require years of expertise and practice. Not photography. Photography is for dummies. Then on the other end, we have b.s. science touted by the “artists,” like megapixels, lens optics, and sensor reflectivity. They have no idea what this stuff means, nor do they need any understanding of it to take pretty pictures, but they pretend it makes the craft complex, and their jobs, difficult and valuable. Kudos to the engineers, sure, but I’m not scientific as a mere photographer, any more than I’d be an auto mechanic for driving a car.

6. No future. You can’t make money taking pictures. If you do, you’re not an artist, you’re a businessman. Nothing more.

7. Life as a technician. You can’t get a good photo unless you Photoshop the heck out of it, like going from this awful thing to Leafy Droplets 4. Is that creative? My 10-year-old cousin can add some contrast, sharpen, darken the corners, and shift the colors with ease. If you put yourself through hours of this drudgery, you’re no more of an artist than the lab operator at Wal-Mart. A computer can easily replace you. How does it feel wasting your talent?

8. Strokes of luck. If you do capture a great photo that needs no editing, it’s because of reason #3. No talent whatsoever; you were just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and disciplined enough to have your camera ready. So basically, your dependent on fate to bring you pretty pictures to photograph. Don’t you want to be in control of what you create, and when you create it? Do you like doing work that relies on luck, discipline, and drudgery, that you’re not even getting paid for? You may as well be digging ditches. At least then you’d be doing something useful for the world.

9. Join a community of morons. Maybe your smart and join a “camera club.” Then, you get to hear a dozen other people complain about the delay of Nikon’s latest DSLR and make excuses why they can never be a good photographer until they have *insert lens here*. Then they’ll complain about how they can’t attract any money. Maybe if they’d add something real to the world, they’d have the money to buy their toys. If you’re a photographer, you may as well be playing the latest World of Warcraft game.

Or perhaps you’re particularly dedicated and follow your passion to a photography university. Then you get to spend four years and thousands of dollars on the dead art of film, while hearing old codgers whining that the youngsters have it too easy nowadays. You may as well learn Latin. If you want to be a professional photographer, take a business class. But you’re condemning yourself to a lifetime of slave labor. If we had today’s photography before Lincoln’s time, then slaves would be photographing our children’s birthdays and recording our weddings. Why? Because slaves were forced to do tedious, boring, uncreative work.

10. You’re a dime a dozen. You’re building no legacy, you can’t pass your business on to your children, you work on assignment for pennies, and anyone can replace you at anytime. In what other artistic field can anyone do exactly the same work you do, with no talent nor experience? Read rubbish like Is Color Photography an Art? with any spirit of inquiry, and you can see what fools we are.

“Okay, so since photography is really nothing, we’ll give it some class. Only photography done on expensive, time-consuming film is art. No color nonsense—that’s too much like the real world. Digital doesn’t count—it’s missing the needless drudgery. 35mm? Are you crazy? That’s the easy way out.”

Can’t you see how dumb this is? If photography was an art form, we wouldn’t have millions of pages debating the subject. It would be plain and obvious. The very existence of a debate proves that photography as art is shaky ground to stand on. You don’t see anyone debating painting as an art form, or protesting the Mona Lisa as uncreative.

“The color photographer has many means of bringing expression into a scene; the selection of camera position, lens focal length, use of filters, depth of field, film type, exposure, composition, and shutter speed all figure into the image that is produced. During printing, the color photographer has control of contrast, density, color balance, and saturation to convey personal expression.”

Oh puh-lease. “The cashier has many ways of being creative at the check-out line. She can express herself by scanning your groceries swiftly, grouping them by color, double-bagging at her discretion, and suggesting candy bars and periodicals. She has control of the conversation, by making friendly chit-chat or working without delay. Through the artistic medium of words, she has the potential to positively influence hundreds of people every day.”

At least cashiers don’t delude themselves thinking they’re at the pinnacle of artistic expression and can change the world. Perhaps we aren’t so lucky.

Photography is fine for what it is: a pseudo art form for talentless hacks. But don’t give it more respect than it deserves.

217 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why Photography Sucks and Isn’t an Art Form

  1. Well… I agree that some level of photography can be called art… but it doesn’t matter… it really doesn’t. Fart around as much as you like with art. Until this world is unified and children no longer die due to having to drink filthy water and eat nothing but a diet of flour mixed into a paste, art really doesn’t matter.

    “It’s how I express my self! because I have so many important emotions to convey to the world”… F**k you, go help somebody. If you want to do it with a camera, become a war photographer… take pictures that need to be seen. GAAAH.

  2. In my view, photography isn’t art, per se. I think that you CAN create wondrous artistry with photographs, but only when relaying a deep, moving concept. Tell me – is taking a digital picture of a flower, making it black-and-white with photoshop, and slapping it onto the internet meaningful or cause for catharsis?

    To me, photography is more of a tool. Bosch’s The Garden off Earthly Delights is a grand image. You may call it art, but would you say the same thing of the paint brush? Photographs are more like paint brushes than paintings.

    To quote Kipling quoting the devil: ‘You did it, but was it art?’ Sure, anything can be art. But is it GOOD art? Is it a source for edification, catharsis, lucid emotional impact, and heart-breaking self-awareness? A photograph by itself has never caused me to weep or grieve. Nearly every other art form has. Stevie Wonder’s quivering universalist anthem ‘Love’s In Need of Love Today’ from his ’76 Songs in the Key of Life brought a tear to my eye. George Orwell’s damning, bitter Nineteen-Eighty-Four brought my breathing to a halt. The animated film Grave of the Fireflies tore at my very essence.

    No single photograph (as we differentiate between photograph and image) has ever delivered such a concrete emotional impact to me. So – is photography art? Sure. Is it GOOD art? That is, as previously noted, totally confined within the realms of the subjective. Do I care for it? No.

    Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is violent, bitter, beautiful, dark, meaningful, metaphoric, subtle, ambiguous and moving.

    I propose a challenge – offer to me a picture, a single picture, that is as meaningful and poignant as that artistic piece. I’m asking for a single photograph that conveys as much INTENDED meaning, metaphor, richness, power and ambiguity as Pink Floyd’s defining work. Show me a single photograph (not painting) that hits me as hard.

  3. If you are the majority of America and use the Auto function on your camera yes it is easy, but if you use the manual setting (if you have one) like on a dslr you have to know things about light, ISO, exposure amounts, how aperture works, etc. You also have to have good composition in your pictures. Film is a whole different story compared to digital you have to know all the stuff you know for digital, except you have to get it right the first time because you can’t review your pictures in the instant like you can with digital. there is no such thing as do-overs in Film.

  4. It doesn’t matter whether or not photography is a form of art. People take pictures. If it’s a lucky once-in-a-lifetime (or week or month or year) shot, then that person can try and sell it on a website designed to sell photos (websites that protect photos from simply being copied and pasted). If people like the shot, the photographer can make money. If not, oh well. My point is that it doesn’t matter if photography is a form of art or not. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t require any talent and it’s all luck. It’s about getting a picture that people like.

    But, if I had to choose, I’d say that photography is an art. In a lot of cases photography is the production of something beautiful (unless you’re taking pictures of a crime scene or something like that, but you know what I mean). That is what art is.

  5. Through reading the comments it’s apparent to me that photographers and traditional artists alike see paintings and drawing and sketching as art. Yet virtually no traditional artists see photography as art while all photographers do. My conclusion is that the best photographers need to separate themselves from 99.9% of other (photographers) or try and purge your medium of the pop culture morons. I can buy a very expensive technically brilliant paintbrush, spend countless hours working on pieces and have a fundemntal understanding of art but that doesn’t mean everything if anything i create is art.

  6. People are so used to living in a world that over simplifies everything that most of them are incapable of making any efforts. Nowadays, the majority of things are built quickly, thoughtlessly and carelessly, and the result most often then not shows that lack of effort and investment, in other words it SUCKS. It pisses me off to see that mentality invade artistic expression, and lame sunday photographer “artists” really crystalize this “trend”. “Who says is has to be hard?
    Who says it needs to take years?” : that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Rule of thumbs : something thought of and executed in an hour will always be mediocre. Something planned, thought of, modified, retried, will show the work and effort involved, and that’s a pretty certain way of defining quality. The best artistic expression takes time and dedication, and there has to be some kind of hardship otherwise it just falls in the amateur category. If you don’t realize the work and investment art requires, than stop making art because you don’t know anything about it. And avoid another terrible mistake that seperates real art from posers trying to get attention : never do art for other people’s praises, do it for yourself. The moment you aim to please or impress the public, you aren’t doing art anymore, you’re doing marketting. Artistic expression is personal and should not be done to make views on youtube, it’s a cathartic operation meant to externalise something you can’t externalise in any other way. This, work and dedication are the only things that drive true art.

    • “Minimal art is characterized by its simplicity in both form and content, where personal expression is removed in order to achieve this. The intention of minimalist artists is to allow the audience to view a composition more intensely because the distractions of theme etc. have been removed.”

      That is a direct definition.
      That’s “art” even though “personal expression is removed.”
      So go bash them.

    • And by the way:
      “Rule of Thumb” is a phrase that was used when beating your wife was legal, as long as you did it with a stick smaller in diameter than your thumb.
      Let’s try not to sound like small-minded bigots, shall we?

    • Oh and “Sunday photographers?”
      I have my camera at ALL times.
      I am in photography school that requires 14-15 hour days Monday-friday. Film, Digital, Darkroom, color & B&W Ag process printing. All of it.
      Do NOT talk to me about a “hobby.”
      Photography is my life and I am in it for MY ART.
      And for the record:
      “Something planned, thought of, modified, retried, will show the work and effort involved” -you
      I have reshot the same scene 5 different times in 4 different formats (35mm, 6×6, 4×5, digital) to achieve EXACTLY the look I wanted. Then fricking perfected for HOURS in a darkroom.
      STOP pontificating!
      You are not better than me, or anyone else, just because you think you KNOW what “art” is or isn’t.
      NO “art” is better than any other, it’s SELF-EXPRESSION, and therefore NOT for people to judge and compare, it’s for the ARTIST to express something and to share it if they so chose.

      So for all those painters or sculptors or whatever you do, who have decided photography isn’t art because its “easy” and is just copying nature, I’d like to see you pick up a camera and produce CONSISTENTLY beautiful results, because true photographers can. EVERY time.

      • You will never understand art then. I don’t call myself an artist, yet I spend hours on concepts, gathering references and creating the piece itself. (Free-hand traditional portrait drawings in graphite). I have science qualifications at school level, does that make me a scientist? The point is how many photo’s can you take in one hour…thousands. Even without all of the specialist equipment, lighting etc by sheer luck you will come out with some very good photographs. Are those good photos classified as art… Their is a huge difference between a child picking up a pencil and drawing and the masterpieces created by the great artists. Yet can a child or monkey use a camera and take photos of similar quality to a photographer…Yes.

  7. NO, the difference is the artists’ chosen medium.
    The artists’ desired form of expression, their outlet.

    And if you have never spent hours in a darkroom, dodging this shadow or burning this highlight, to make the image exactly right, then you don’t get it, so don’t pretend to know what goes into it. WE DON’T JUST CLICK A FUCKING BUTTON!

    Tell that to Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, Sam Abell, or even Rodney Smith.
    I dare you to say that they’re not artists.

    You’re mad at the same people TRUE photographers are mad at. The ones who buy “point and shoots,” or DSLRs at walmart and decide they can do what we do.

    • Kind of understand. However the skills involved include patience, concept generation and art direction plus the action of clicking a button. These actions bar clicking a button all occur before a traditional artist creates their piece. They are by no means finished. Oh and your ignorance is apparent when you talk of working in a dark room. As if a few hours working in the correct lighting is such a burden. Try doing it for weeks, months or years for one piece. Understand that touching the paper you use once will compromise the entire pieces finished quality. Even using graphite pencils you cannot simply erase your mistakes.

  8. i used to have an opinion identical to yours in this essay, and i still find it somewhat to be true. i spent 15+ years teaching myself to draw, and it just seemed kind of cheap that people were getting more praise for knowing how to work a camera. over the years, however, i met exactly TWO people whose photos convinced me that photography can be an art, but very very very few people can achieve it. in my opinion, photography isn’t about lighting, shutter speed, photoshop, or any of those other things photographers rave on about to sound technical. it’s about capturing an accurate representation of a concept. i think the photos in national geographic can do this very well, for example. a lot of it IS about luck and being in the right place at the right time, but some people have gained the skill to predict when that perfect moment will be. to be fair, i’d say a high percentage of people who have suddenly become interested in photography are doing it for artistic credit, without having to actually put too much effort into it. there are people who can do it right; they’re just not very numerous.

  9. Oh, and you should check out the rules for lomography : basically it says that the less you intervene in the photography process the better…”Try the shot from the hip.” “Don’t think.” “You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film.”…Yeah that’s right, the more random, unthought and immediate the better. Out of 600 dreadful pics you gotta have a least 2 to show people and pretend you know what your doing. Skills indeed.

    • DON’T you see?
      That’s the difference between REAL photographers and amateurs, what real photographers can achieve, is REPEATABLE.

      We know what we are doing. We can do it once, and then 10 years later do it again and if we chose we can even improve upon it.
      The amateurs out there can point a camera at something and get a photograph, yes.
      They may even get lucky once or twice, but they have NO idea how they got the results they did.

      TRUE photographers can not only achieve the same result, but can then brake it down and explain it to you.
      We understand light, we can shape it, manipulate it, make it ours.
      Can ANY of you say the same?

  10. Hey come to think of it, that’s why photography is so popular these days : it doesn’t take years of training took achieve good results…I guess that pretty much sums it up.

  11. Great Post, I absolutely feel the same about photography, it’s any average asshole’s chance to pretend he’s an artist. Also you didn’t mention that awesome photographs are one in a series of hundreds of botched attempts. Out of 20 rolls used, you’ll get like 2 decent pics. Where’s the talent in that.
    I’m getting mighty tired of idiots that think art is accessible to anyone : first off you have to have SENSITIVITY to start doing decent stuff ; that generally means that you are socially awkard and are prone to anguish strikes and discomfort in everyday living. The upside is that you are able to express feelings and ideas through different techniques. Being hyper-sensitive really badly fucks your emotional balance and social life. So I’m pretty tired of seing mr and mrs Superficial Popularity and Social Ease pretend he digs wha

    • …digs what some of us are going through when they never experienced social anguish or just the very disagreable feeling of going absolutely mad with incomprehension.
      To be able to artistically express yourself means a lot of PAIN, and you can’t buy that in a goddamn Istore.
      Art means a lot of work, dedication and most of all geniune anguish and pain, so I’m getting prtty tired of superficial idiots who pretend they are picasso’s because they can push a goddamned button. You are not fooling anyone, please go back to being absolutely normal people that look down on “freaks” like me, who accidentely kick your asses in graphic design drawing and music.

  12. When an artist paints, the artist is recreating an image from what the artist has seen.
    manipulates the image from color to composition. The photographer can do the same take the image then manipulate color and compositon in photoshop. Seems to be the same thing to me.
    Going back to Paul on engineers doctors nurses. There were engineers doctors and nurses before there were schools. Schools are for passing on knowledge not creating.

    • the differernce is that the painter has to work his fucking ass off for hours and most likely have only one canvas to paint on while the photographer has all day to fiddle with his photoshop. Photographer produces 10 pics while artist makes 1 work of art.

  13. It takes years of practice to properly use DSLR cameras and equipment. Memorizing f stops, learning to undrstand light and it’s effects on exposure. It takes time to learn editing programs. It takes heart and patience to capture good images. If anybody could do it then everyone would. Cynical ignorant people are putting down a tedious and hard form of art. Yes everyone can take a picture but without the knowledge a professional has your picture is nothing special. Go pick up a d800 and tell me what to do in order to capture a series of the moon cycle. I’m sure you’d know exactly what to do because it’s so easy. Without photography the images of past wars, playgirls, weddings, Childhood memories, the list could gp on and on, would be lost. Photography has an incredible affect on society in a billion ways.

  14. Weird.. it took me 4 years and like 50 boxes of B&w 100 count paper.. miles of film and hours of shooting and study just to product enough skill to have a decent show.. and three best in photograhy awards. Yes anyone can shoot decent shit but it take skill and learning to do it right. Blame hipsters and cs4 for crappy stuff on auto.

  15. Wow. I’ll admit to not to being a photographer or even the least bit artistic, but I think this was a fascinating read. Specially all the comments afterward. I’m currently writing a paper on the arguement of photography being art or not and this has given me some real insight. Thank you.

  16. Somebody said at least. Of course you riled up the bag of ego douche bags. Congrats all you picture takers. You made a still photo of something that was ALREADY MADE. I think of photographers as the ultimate form of stealing art. They don’t even realize it that’s the thing. Everything in your photos was created by somebody else.

  17. I’ll just quote this from the top of the page for people still raging away in the comments:

    “This article is #1 in Google for “photography sucks,” so I see why it gets so many comments. Don’t take me too seriously. Photography is really an art form and I am playing devil’s advocate here. :smile:

    I too feel that photography really is an art, but I can also take a joke and laugh at some of the negative aspects of photography. :wink:

  18. Wow, are you SERIOUS? You better be trolling else you are nothing more than a stupid ignorant.

    • Calling the author a stupid ignorant because you don’t agree…guess THAT makes YOU the troll don’t it?

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  20. I totally disagree with you. There are people that just do not get it. Must be you, huh? Photography as a art is a masterful articulation of each image that everyone cannot do. Could this be you? Yes anyone can take picture with a camera even a box, but those are not the ones we are talking about here. Theses photographers spend hours to get a particular image and a capture of time that will never happen again. Shame on you and your shallow intelligence to make such false statements and to try to influence people who might be interested in studying this. Any form of art should be judged by it’s beauty and meaningfulness visually to the individual . It is the unique piece that brings a stimulating experience to the individual. Trying to define fine art?Fine art ( or art) in general is undefined because it is simply in the eye of the beholder. In conclusion i will just say if a Fine Art photographer is selling his pieces I would say he is now a Professional Artist!!!!!

  21. Your a bitter asshole who has NO fucking talent. MOST photographers not all, but about 85% of the ones I know, practice other media. Because they choose to produce work in some media form you dissagree with does not make them any less talented. Fucker, if it weren’t for photographers, who have TALENT and CREATIVITY, publications like Vouge, AltPress, and even Playboy wouldn’t exist. So sit down, stuff you’re mouth and get the fuck over yourself you are what’s wrong with the world

    • Yeah, yeah, keep training pressing buttons, you really impress everyone with that “skill”.

  22. to be perfectly honest, to me you sound more than just a little bitter. Yes anyone can take a photograph and it will be simple, but it takes great skill and is a craft to be learnt to make a photograph. Its more than just pointing and shooting, its the choices you make to create an outcome you want.

  23. thank god i read this, i a doing a art prject on a career of choice. i chose photogrpahym, and i thank you whoever made this artical it opened my eyes and i no longer plan to persue a career in photography. perhaps film ? i will keep my eyes open fior someone revealing the ugly truth of film , lol

  24. Photographers, get over it, you are not artists, you are documentarians. You might as well go sit in on an orchestra with a tape recorder and record what is being played, it might sound nice afterwards but it doesn’t make you an artist.

    • When you know nothing about art and the kind of knowledge a professional photograph needs in order to create a decent picture, You stfu and be respectful. What you just said is as ignorant as saying that Abstract art sucks because “I could do it on my own”.

      • “You STFU and be respectful”. Lol. looks like you jknow a lot about respect.

  25. Indeed anyone can make photographs, but not everyone can make a GREAT IMAGES.

  26. Hello, I’m referencing this (and disputing this greatly) in an essay.

    • I am an engineer and I consider photographers to be afraid of encountering hardships in the field of their choice in life. I mean like, “Why choose photography if you can make Cameras of your own when you’re an engineer? Why photography if you can have better opportunities and so much things to learn on engineering?” Let’s accept the fact that; Photographs are made by Cameras, not by people, which makes them less of what we so call “art”. Cameras are made by engineers, made by people, which makes them what we call pure art. Yes, not everyone can do good photography. It’s probably because their attention is not on the camera most of the time, unlike what we so call “professional photographers” whose attentions are on the camera all the time, but if you give these normal people time to master the camera, at least a day or a two, they can easily kick the butt out of this what we call “professional photographers”. It’s a fact, just accept it. Cameras? They are very easy to master. As I mentioned above, they are made by engineers. I only consider photography as a hobby, not an art nor a profession. ANY PEOPLE CAN BE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER BY LEARNING IT THEMSELVES ALONE, WITHOUT THE NEED OF SCHOOL, BUT NO PEOPLE CAN BE AN ENGINEER, DOCTOR, NURSE, LAWYER WITHOUT THE HELP OF A SCHOOL SO WHY WASTE YOUR TIME TAKING PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE ON A UNVIERSITY?

      • A great photographer has imagination to capture what is not the obvious and emotions that will never be produced.
        Imagination is not a linear profession like the ones mentioned.

  27. Anything can be art. A person can paint their nude body with paint and call it art. Seeing art is in the eye of the beholder. You might not think someting is art but someone else does. Just as if you think something is art and someone tells you otherwise. Art is art. It can be created, performed or whatever in many ways. Photography is art and does take talent. If you can go to a black room and and be able to produce a photo, that in itself is talent. You say you can’t an artist if you sell your work. Then i guess motzart and ansel adams and other famour artists must not be artists because they sell their work.

  28. cant you just say that this is all about opinion? wilde said that all art is useless… well that was his opinion right? and not all people that know about him know about what he tried to say with that…

    It seems you don´t really get the entire idea… how sad… but at the end we can´t stay with our opinions, we should evolve… you should do it too… I won´t ask you to do anything but just think, a good photographer must keep his mind open… haha, how funny you are sorry for the bad english I just could not resist…

  29. Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So sad that I discovered your site only now, I have waited for this since years now. I have felt this in me so long ago, and I had to wait it out to concretize, but know I know that this has been my problem with photograpy all the time after I started to study photography at the university. I can’t say that I regret doing it, but now my diploma isn’t worth shit ’cause everybody is doing photos too. Once I thought it was special and it really takes years of artistic education to do great photos, and to know the technical side too. I’m devastated of the fact that once photography was invented to proove and to share the RAW TRUTH of the moment and happenings. And today this has turned into its direct opposite: you can’t find an ‘artistic’ method of expression that is more untrue, manipulated, altered(they like it more: ‘edited’) even if just by raising contrast, and making so simple and everyday things into dramatic shit that doesn’t add anything new to the world only expresses ones obsession of ‘cool’, dark and pessimistic mystification of what they not even intented to understand. I’m fed up with photography, it’s choking me, images called art, and truly devious ‘artist’ are infesting every single corner(once so peaceful and clean) of the world and pushing ‘their world’ and stupid images in my face, I can’t breathe!!! So if you are against what’s photography’s become(sorry from this point we just cannot go back and praise what once was so pure) aling with me, the battle is on!

  30. I disagree with your list, but it all seems to stem from the very first reason listed, so I’m only going to address number 1 on your list. Yes, anyone can take a photo, even a monkey, but not every one can take a good photograph, a photograph that is considered art.
    Bad to average photography IS easy
    Good to great photography is NOT

    I think why you feel this way toward photography is partly due to the fact that you are not pushing yourself to create wonderful images, anyone can see that going through your portfolio. Maybe if you tried, and worked on this particular art form, you would be happier with the outcome. Shoot like a monkey and you will get monkey results. Shoot like a photographer/artist and you may just get better images. If you keep your current mindset your photography will never improve and everything on your list will be relevant and true.
    I for one, as a beginner, know that my photography will only get better every time I shoot, because I push myself, I push my camera, and I see it as an art form that constantly evolves and changes over time. I think it’s sad, if it’s really true that you love photography like you say, that you are stopping yourself from making good images and are content to keep producing what you do.

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  32. WRONG on all accounts. I will agree that photography can be simple and almost anyone can do it especially in this day of digital photography.
    BUT, any honest expression of artistry is art and photography fits the bill. True, being at the right time and recording it on film or digital does not constitute art, but seeing something and composing it, manually setting the exposure to bring out highlights and having details in shadows…..creating a piece of art that not everyone can…. One is an ARTIST.
    I started my business in 1958 at 17 and over the years I HAVE photographed things that anyone in my position could have. There are scenes and things that I saw would occur in hours and minutes and being able to respond to that specific time to set in on film make me an artist.
    I use both film and digital….prefer film and it is more subtle and I don’t believe in using photoshop although there is a place for it.
    In July 1959 I saw a character study of 2 Italian men and I knew it would only be there for less than one second…ART. On Aug 22, 1960 I saw a ocean scene that I knew was happening and that would only be there momentarily….No meter just understanding light and lenses (bruses) I had to put it on film. In 1968 I I saw a photo developing (pun-sorry) with Johnny Carson and Jack Benny I had to show its true expression…GOT It….a piece of art.

    Over 50 years I have photographed people and personalities, not just to take a pick-ture of them, but to express them, as a painting would, showing their characteristics and that is something that a painting can’t always do.

    A painter,ARTIST, sees something and with his personality and heart puts in on canvas….so to the photographer…………..THUS NO MATTER WHAT YOU MAY THINK PHOTOGRAPHY CAN BE ART

  33. Film isn’t dead, but it was coughing up blood last night.

    No, of course photography isn’t art and CANNOT be art, for reasons you don’t mention. A photograph is a product of nature, not art. It represents a causal chain from the light leaving the sun, reflecting off of an object, passing through a lens, and striking the film. In no way do I catch the light and use my hands. all art is made by hand, not by nature.

  34. Let’s face it – most art is bogus and pretentious. Far too much contemporary art lives on their accompanying manifestos which are often so full of cliché as to be worthless. Talk the correct art world lingo and move in the right sycophantic circles and suddenly a dead sheep becomes a masterpiece. I wonder how many corporations buy in their artworks based on the conceptual merit of the piece rather than the fact it fits in with the corporate colour scheme or represents a good resale proposition in a future Auction.
    The art world is dominated by pretension and snobbery. Photography is accessible so does that make it any less valid? Paint is cheap and anyone can create a painting – given the right exposure a chimpanzee’s daub can be extolled as brilliant – art is completely subjective.
    Just as in any other form of visual expression, within photography there is the majority who take bad shots, a fair amount who hit upon a good shot by accident and those with true talent who know how to see and get the good shot time after time. Point and shoots make life easier and get rid of a lot of the technicalities, but give the same model of camera limited to ten shots to a happy snapper and a pro and witness the difference.

    Photography is no more or less of that mystical form of expression that we call art than any other discipline. Photography is as much of a means to an end as the brush or the sculptor’s chisel. Perhaps photographs just are just too easily accessible and so don’t lend themselves to be placed in a shrine entitled “the emperor’s new clothes”. :grin:

    • I love taking pictures and photoshoping images to whatever. All art forms, whatever your definition, are beautiful,creative, expressive… as well as full of pretentious bs.
      Anyway, too much talk. Go paint, sculpt, play an intrument, sing ,dance enjoy for criss sake. What else matters?

    • This. This all the way.
      Most of the arguments against photography and film are made by the incredibly pretentious “Modern Artists” who feel that their art is in danger of deprecation. Art is a business in this day and age. Most of the modern art you see in galleries are by the so called “starving artists” who are simply looking for an easy way to exploit the pretension that thrives in the upper class communtitiy. “Look at what I drew/painted/shat! It means blah blah blah and represents blah blah blah.” “Oh! I must have it in my collection! I’ll give you $(Absurd amount)”

  35. You are so right!
    I’m a photographer and I suck! Two+ years of hands on training, and more years of practice and I hate it! For some reason I can’t stop. What is up with that?
    I used to use a tripod…what a sissy…and I used to takes “pictures of things”…what a moron. Now I just walk around swirling my camera like a nut job. As for multiple exposures…don’t even get me started. Hours and hours to produce one or maybe two decent works…I suck!

  36. photography may be an art, but it’s stuck in modernism and can’t find it’s way out.

  37. As a 14 year old an an aspireing photographer, I find the entire context of this artical inslulting. The fact of the matter is that, I love doing what I do, and one way or another, it is an art. Have I ever been in a darkroom? No, that might have something to do with my age. However, learning Photoshop (and when you really get creative is not as easy as a few adjustment layers on you’re sterotypical photo), learning my DSLR (the last time I used auto was the last time I used a camera that didn’t have manual)without any classes, or teachers can be a challange in itself. I have a question, if you were a WWII fighter pilot, and walked up to a young one that just landed an F-35 would you say “You’re not really a pilot, all you need to do is look somewhere flip a switch and bomb someplace 50KM away and you will never be shot down or feel any real danger”? I’m 99.9% sure that you wouldn’t say that…you would get a slap in the face for disrespecting your countrys military. Why can’t photography and painting be the same? I always hated art class in grade 2, and still would never take it, because I don’t enjoy it, and frankly can’t draw (it is a dissability and my hand’s can make the proper strokes to even use a pen without it moveing and messing everything up). But I enjoy photography, I enjoy the process of setting the appature each time, I enjoy the process of combineing several photos into one abstract one in photoshop, and I love photography. It isn’t to be judged like this, and the same goes for painting, they are two seperate things and and they are both an art that has a lot more in it than your sterotypical P&S click of a button.

    • You are right, they are 2 seperate things. One is art and the other is a learned skill. It takes natural talent to become an artist but photography can be learned by anyone. That is the difference. Go to a ‘starving artist’ show and you will see paintings done by people whom are in a class and trying to be taught how to paint. They are usually terrible paintings because real art can not be learned, only honed.

    • I completely agree with you he is being ridiculous, but those kind of critical, people are always going to have something to say. let him wallow in his self-piity (Im sure thats is where all this came from) you do your best and hold on to what you know about yourself and the ART you love.

  38. I used to proud of my photography hobby, but after reading the 10 reasons above I suddenly realize that it’s just a usual hobby.

  39. As a photographer that makes peanuts for working my a$$ off…yeah. I agree. If you want money, I would not suggest this field, unless of course, you’re friends with Tyra Banks.

    • The key is to get in with people who have money and photograph their events and then charge them a lot of money… corporations and government I guess. Photography skills are important, but they’re generally peripheral, i.e. they will help you in a job that mainly involves other tasks. Because you have a camera, your employer doesn’t have to hire a photographer.

  40. Your tirade only proves one thing. Your experience of photographers and their motives is very limited. Oh – and also that you are comparing painting and photography mainly from a craft point of view. You probably think certain types of painting aren’t art either, and probably due to the level of ‘skill’ involved, rather than its ability to express anything. Art is not just about ‘looking good’, it is about having someting to say. It always was. It kind of shows your ignorance really, more than anything, and ignorant people are.. well…just boring. Bet you think Dali is cool.

  41. I think you are a very clever man, provoking the response you have, Well done.

  42. :smile2:
    I read this article due to searching up if photography was indeed an actual art form. I am majoring in photography and will be attending Savannah College of Art and Design in two months or so. Sometimes i feel doubtful about whether or not my major is TOO mainstream, and admittedly, a lot of people pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer…and very few people make it. But on the other hand, i know how passionated i am about this, and i know its not actual drawing, or painting, but its an expression of oneself..isn’t that art enough? Art is not the definition of hard work, too many people equate it to work ethic, and the physical acpect of things, when its not.
    Anyways, I liked this article, it confirmed everything i questioned, now i know i have to stand out :D

    • Awesome, good luck at SCAD! I have started freelancing recently and am enjoying it… photography and photo-editing is a lot of fun. I wouldn’t want to major in it, though.

  43. I came to this article accidentally. This article is written in loose language and the choice of words and intent is shallow. I would have been happy to see a criticized view which would have been based on some research then mere the biased thoughts of some forcible intent.

    • You don’t get it! The idea was to piss people off and shake up their belief systems. I didn’t do any research because I just like to type without doing research.

    • I saw your writing mister ‘proudofmywritingskills’. not everybody has to aim for a literary award to write down an oppinion. was it really necessary stopping by and posting a comment just to tell how great you are? and you don’t need a research for this subject, its clear enough if you just look around, how do you count together the talentless faces who just get on the wave of shooting a photo and praising themselves? they are numberless!and tell me how do you measure talent? today talent is a matter of self-management.

      • Thanx for appreciating the writing skill and stopping by to see my post. I am just passionate about photography and have amateurish skills. I came through this post when I was pondering over the question as “What is photography?” . Is it still the traditional form of understanding camera and subject or should it now include the digital art form created through photoshop like software too. I liked the article to be debated and wrote my response in form of blog entry. If you did not like it then also its okay. But I am entitled for my opinion and will participate wherever required as part of larger cause of debate.
        One line from the song “The times they a changin ” apt for your comment goes as “Don’t criticize what you cannot understand” .

  44. Pingback: Is the Art of Photography Dying Due to Digitalization? | Free Web Design Tucson

  45. Pingback: Is the Art of Photography Dying Due to Digitalization?

  46. that’s ok… I’ll just check back.
    Personally I’m not sure that I agree with you regarding a good time to get out of film photography, though clearly many people do. Maybe that, in part is why I want to stay in it. I mean try to find any information about a wet process on line… all you’ll find is links to digital stuff. I get that a digital workflow is much more accessible to most people, and wet work, analog photography, whatever you want to call it requires more dedication, and perhaps expense, but in the world of art, should everything be that easy?

    It’s gotten to a point where even many photographers aren’t even schooled in what makes for a refined image. I blame this on the duality of photography as both a media tool and medium of art. In a way it’s almost like how some people will make the distinction between “illustrator” and “artist”. Anyway, the demands of photo in industry and print (the tool of photography – commercial work) has demanded the kind of turnaround and casual attitude towards the final product where it became acceptable and the norm to send out film to be processed and have other people make your prints. Now I am a firm believer that there is an art to printing, even outside of the whole capturing the image. There was a whole industry of increadible craftsmen who made prints. Some are still there, but particularly in the world of digital, it’s a dying field. My point being that even photographers making art have been farming out some critical parts of the process, and as a result, not learning the things needed to be true masters of their craft.
    (this is longer than i thought it would be)
    So my point is… For photographers who want to see their art through… to own all aspects of their images to the final product… particularly who have a love affair with silver halide grain and the magic of light and chemistry, there’s going to be less excuse to let others do their work for them. Film is by and large dead to any application other than fine art. The easy option to sent it out to the processor will become less of an option. Now is a perfect time to learn all that you can about film photography, if for no other reason because so few people do. This is precious and intricate knowledge, and is perhaps the closest thing we have to alchemy we have in this world. Film photography is more valid now than it has ever been.

    • Well, you can develop digital images onto silver halide paper in black and white, or color paper by C41 process, but the machines are very expensive so this is something most photographers delegate to a company like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, Snapfish, Shutterfly, or Kodak. Not many companies will develop digital black and white prints with silver paper.

      As for film photography, I would not get involved with it now. Supplies are becoming harder to find, and high schools and colleges are beginning to replace their darkrooms with computer labs. Unless you have a lot of money to blow, digital photography gives you a lot more bang for your buck and increases your creative potential.

      • well yeah, I get what you are saying about the cost. There is no getting around the fact that to outfit an entire darkroom is expensive, but then again so are the hidden costs of digital. Think about it. Let’s say you want a camera that you have more control over… a camera that can be used manually. It’s not unrealistic to say that it’s going to cost you, I don’t know, like $500 and goes even up to multiple thousands if you want pro or even prosumer gear. Right there if you were inclined to, you could get yourself a good camera and a modest darkroom if you were willing to look a bit. Honestly people are literally giving their darkroom stuff away. I’m not saying that a person should do this, only that they can.

        I could give you a ton of reasons why film is better than digital and then either you or I could give another ton of the reasons why digital is better than film. That’s why people groan whenever this topic comes up; it’s just played out. A photographer should use whichever medium works for them. My only issue is that people today, especially young photographers, don’t even see film as an option, and it really is. Some might argue that manual film is a better way to learn the fundamentals of photography, and yes, if you want to be a “professional” than digital is the way to go, but I think you’re stepping into a bit of a cultural trap to say that either one or the other has the ability to increase your creative potential.

        oh, and apart from that I feel very strongly that photographers need to turn off their auto settings until they don’t need them. They’re a tool, not a crutch. A good photographer should never need a computer chip to take a picture for them.

        • Well, the reason people are giving away darkroom equipment is because they are tired of the ongoing costs. With digital, you can buy a good digital SLR and lens, some accessories, a couple high-capacity hard drives, Photoshop (pirate it), and a good computer and monitor for under $2000. Then, you can take tens of thousands of pictures with no further expenses besides electricity.

          With film, you start out cheap but every roll of film, every print, and every bottle of developer and fixer costs you. I took a film photography course three years ago, so I have developed black and white film. That 16-week course cost me an average of $20 per week, because I paid $3 per roll of film (used 1-2 per week, 36-72 exposures), $70 for 100 sheets of 8×10 paper, and $80 for the Canon Elan IIE (a camera that was $800 in 1999). I did not even buy a lens, simply using the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens I had already purchased for my digital SLR.

          If I had to set up my own dark room and purchase all the chemicals, tanks, trays, and supplies instead of having them provided by the school, there is no way I would ever have tried film photography.

          Color film photography may be cheaper than black and white, but I did not investigate that. However, I learned that film photography was not as great as I thought it to be. We had a shared darkroom for developing prints, and students would constantly be texting or even opening the lamp for their enlargers, ruining other peoples prints. The room was not even close to cleanroom specifications so every print I developed was plagued by dust. My teacher said that is always a problem with shared darkrooms and he also volunteered that film photography really has no advantages and he shoots only digital now.

          • well i didn’t want this to degrade into a film vs digital argument. I’d also like to point out that I have said there are fair claims on both sides and I’m really truly not trying to be devisive on this. The funny thing is, often times when I am talking about film photography, and the reasons I think it is particularly a valid medium for art, digital photographers become defensive. Maybe you have a love for the look of ink. there that’s valid. I like ink too. I’m having a giclee printed this wednesday for a show, but for black and white i prefer to be in control of every step, from the choice of film to the interpretation and crafting of the print. I think back to Ansel Adams when he said something to the effect of If the negative is the score, then the print is the performance. I mean tell me that you know what I’m saying.
            I’m not going to hash out the pros and cons of the film/digital argument, because it has been done so many times before. People are moving to digital not because it is expensive, but because the industry is moving to digital, and the industry is moving to digital because magazines, newspapers, and websites all integrate at a digital level. They are not concerned with making a fine print, they are looking for a file to drop into indesign. On the consumer side, they are looking primarily to have images on their screen, not a fine print. Does this make it more clear on what I mean by saying that film is best suited towards an art application? Now I’m not crapping on people who use digital camera to make art, so why is it that so often that I have to take the “film is not dead” argument?
            People’s insistence that film is dead is as wrong as saying that digital art photography is for the lazy.

          • Nah, I don’t like inkjet prints. I prefer chemical prints from a lab which are usually processed on a Fuji Frontier or similar machine. It’s similar to developing a color negative, except the negative is replaced with a laser.

  47. Here’s my opinion (coming from a fine artist).

    Photgraphy is art. Maybe it’s a poor form of it, yet it is art. I do get pissed off on art sharing websites when photgraphers get all of the attention, and those who spend weeks on a project barely get any praise. Photography is overused and overrated. And those who buy digital cameras, then immediatley call themselves artists are douchebags. It’s taken me over 14 years to perfect my ability to draw, and yet it takes a photographer 5 seconds to click a button? It’s not fair! :angry:
    The camera is just like cheating. You take the “easier route” by using a camera and not your own skill when creating art.

    • Douchebags (especially “fine art” douchebags) who don’t know the first thing about the craft of another art, but feel informed enough to crap all over it show their pretentious ignorance. I am a photographer. I have spent weeks on an image, and because I have negatives to work off of, I spend years on them. and don’t give me the argument that duplication is the death of art. I get it. You use charcoal, or paint or whatever you use. I bet you wouldn’t crap on Goya or Durer because they made prints from woodcuts. The fact is you just view anything anacronistic as an art medium and that makes YOU the douchebag. I will concede to the johnny come latelys who take credit for a camera’s onboard computer’s decisions as their own craftwork and proclaim art without the due discipline, but anyone who cares to know about the medium (and this obviously does not include you) knows better and pretty instantly at that. More to the point, if the accolades from the online community you so desperately want the attention of, are not flowing in, either they are too visually ignorant to be cared about, or possibly more likely you might want to consider spending a little more time on your own art and craftwork and a little less time whining about it online.

      And as for the author of this piece of satire, yeah it’s funny and maybe even a bit biting at times, but you might want to illustrate that this is in fact not really what you believe, as a large portion of the multitude with think you are serious and use this as additional proof of their convictions. I won’t tell you what to write, but for christsakes my materials are disappearing by the day. I can mix developer from chem myself, but I can’t make film. Rather not sensitize glass, though I’m sure that’d make Claire and her ilk happy.

      • I took a film photography course three years ago, and the college provided all the supplies except the camera, film, paper, sleeves, and matting supplies. They had all the chemicals, four darkrooms for film development, one large darkroom with orange lights for print development, matting presses, etc. You may have to buy supplies online and it will undoubtedly be very expensive. This is a good time to get out of film photography.

      • Woah woah woah. I sense a really bitchy additude here.
        1. How dare you judge my art before even seeing it? And may I remind you I’m not juding your particular art, but the category in which you choose to express your art. See number 3 for more arguement.
        2. I can sense that you are the DOUCHEBAG–who probably thinks that they’re some hip artist and carries around a big ass camera acting superior. Guess what? During the summer, I interned for an art gallery, and all of the photographers were the laughing stalk of the gallery. Mostly because they couldn’t even draw a stick figure or see the message conveyed in the peices that were being shown. They all took the paintings to literally, which is what photography is. Being literal and nothing else.
        3. “What is popular is not always good, what is good is not always popular.”
        Photography is all the craze now. Does that mean it’s good? I think not.
        4. Using big fancy words doesn’t make you appear any more smarter. It only makes you sound more arrogant.
        5. I honestly don’t care if it takes you four weeks to a year to develop some crappy photos. It took me four days, no breaks (except sleep) to draw a self portrait. I’ve been practicing realism for 10 years. If you can’t even edit a photo, that’s sad.

        • 5-if you think that it takes me a year to “edit” a photo… clearly you do not understand the process

          4- This is how I write. There are really no big words here. Its pretty basic vocabulary.

          3- agreed

          2- I can come off as a douchebag, and I suppose I do when someone is insulting my medium. Defensive, sure, but I’m not going to apologize for it. OK maybe I didn’t need to call you a douchbag. I’m sure that you are not a douchebag even though your original post was a case of classic douchebaggery.

          1- Fair enough. Let’s see your art. Then we’ll judge. Let’s see some in your medium, then in photography… then I’ll show you my photography and then some of my drawing. maybe we’ll even like each others stuff and become friends.

          Here, I’ll start…

  48. Bwaaahaaa! This article made me laugh!!!

    So what do I think?? Can you make art with a camera?? Of course you can make art with a camera in the form of photography. Robert Rauschenberg made fabulous art with cardboard boxes. Of course it can be done.

    Do most people make art with their camera?? HELZ NO! I wouldn’t even call what most people do with a camera ‘artistic’ let alone ‘art’.

    But what do I know?? I am just a MWAC! ;-)

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