Why is photography viewed as less than other art forms? (Seamus Whyte)

Falcon: I think it has a lot to do with the history of photography in the 19th century. The birth of photography was not rooted in art. It was driven by science and technology. Remember that Thomas Young’s experimentation with light in the early 19th century lead to the work Gabriel Lippmann did in the early 20th century. Their work was in physics, not art. Photography was a science experiment, not an artistic one.
Hence, the perception that photography was not about the “heart“, but about “technology.“ Ansel Adams is a case in point – his work was all about science, technology and capturing the precise moment – not the most emotionally powerful moment, but the precise moment when technology would yield the most technically perfect image.

I think, at least in part, that this is complicated by the fact that we inherited the Renaissance idea that art is divinely inspired, or at least focused on mythical and theological themes, that, in turn, served the interests of theology, even though modern humanism is rooted in this period. It is as if art exists apart from human existence.

Strangely, fashion and portrait photographers always have been considered artists. The medium, itself, is still not generally accepted as art, but the power of some early masters like Strand, Lange, Weston, Hurrell, Smith, and Penn, some of whom were trained as illustrators and painters, gained them recognition as artists.

Seamus: But again, painting, drawing, graphic design and sculpting all use technology and even chemicals. Capturing an image and post processing is no less challenging. So, without artistic consideration, photography is reduced to “capturing a moment in time “ or the photo-journalistic view of the medium.

Falcon: Yes, except photo-journalism isn’t objective. When a photographer makes a decision to use a certain lens, whatever he or she creates is no longer objective. Even if I am using a fixed lens camera – a point and shoot – the sum total of my human experience shapes how I create images. Unless I manage to block or bracket my emotions, my emotional history shapes everything I create, every thought I think……
At NyghtFalcon, we teach that there is no art without human emotion, otherwise what passes for art just an exercise in the use of technology, that would be similar to “painting by the numbers.“ No human being engages the world without bringing the entirety of their identity to that observation. Our brain, we have learned, interprets what we see based upon our prior experiences and expectations. This is why two people can describe the same event so differently, and each swear they are correct.

From “Behind the Scenes” interview NyghtVision Magazine, Volume 6 #2

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