IntroductionWHAT is the most beautiful sight you have ever seen? To some this may be a very difficult question to answer – perhaps, you too may have seen many beautiful sights and find it difficult to select one.Most of us cherish a special moment when we were intoxicated by the beauty of the landscape or the subject in front of us. During our life time we’ll call to mind those indelible memories. If we could, we would re-visit that location or photograph that subject time and time again.That scene or creature that captivated us is a work of art.Art is a word that has caused a great deal of controversy especially in the recent past. Some photographers use the word art to describe and sell their work.But, what is art? Can you define it? If you are a photographer that sells your work as photographic art – what is it that qualifies it as such?
A definition of art that will satisfy everybody is probably impossible. But as good an explanation as any is found in Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, which says that art is; “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.”
On this basis we can say that a photographer needs to have both skill and creative imagination. When he puts these two aptitudes to work, he can produce something that others will find pleasing or attractive. A deeper definition of art by the French photographer, Alain Briot: “Art is not concerned with record keeping. Art is concerned with expressing emotions, feelings and opinions. Record keeping is factual, concerned with capturing reality and concerned with recording things as they are. Art is non-factual and is concerned with interpreting reality rather than with capturing reality as-is.”His definition goes further than the Webster’s Dictionary because it is specific in explaining the difference between photography as art and what he calls, record keeping, meaning a photograph that is devoid of some of the factors he highlights.Basically, this means that a photographic image can be described as a work of art if the photographer uses skill, creative imagination, interpreting reality and expresses this with feeling.Skill and Imagination
Skill and creative imagination is involved in the creation of art. What kind of skill is needed?Unless the photographer is capable to convert his creative imagination fed by emotions and present it visually, the final print will be a failure technically. In our digital era, a successful photographer needs to acquire a number of skills. In pre-digital times, the film Lab did most of the pro-production work with relatively little input from the photographer.
Today, it is very different – not only must the photographer know how to use his camera tools fluently but he must add other skills in the production of the final print. A computer is a necessity and so is learning how to use software products to manipulate captured images, to change, refine and much more – all this has a direct bearing on the quality of the result – the print.Without these skills the photographer cannot express visually his imagination – the two aptitudes are different and yet they are inseparably married.”Why do people pursue art so passionately?” – asked Professor Michael Leyton in Symmetry, Causality, Mind. As he pointed out, some might say that mental activity such as mathematics confers clear benefits to humans, but why art?Says Leyton: “Art is perhaps the most inexplicable phenomenon of the human species.”