Art is a very powerful medium of expression. In basic terms, art translates the mood and sensibility of any artist. If a person feels very strongly about his/her environment, has a very sensitive way of perceiving things around him/her, also has a capacity of translating the thoughts aesthetically in some creative form to arouse an emotion of the viewer, he/she may be categorized as an artist.
Similarly, Photography is an art too. In my view one can be a very good Photographer but not necessarily an artist.
"A good photographer" meaning skilled, practiced, experienced, interested, dedicated, or ambitious.
I think an art photographer is a photographer with an opinion, has a narrative, a story an aesthetic value to create one. If one has the consistency to produce every work with all these given attributes, she/he can be categorized as an artist not a just a photographer.
Artists strongly have an opinion, if photography becomes the source of expression and the opinion translates in his/her work, one is an artist, not merely a photographer. An art will necessarily touch some emotional chord to leave the viewer thinking, whereas a good photograph may please the eyes and feel good to look at for the quality it has, but if it has no significance beyond that, it is merely a good photograph. Photographers are artists when their work can truly stand as one of their, holding a great personal value, a message.
Some pictures may look very beautiful but they often lack any mood or an emotional content, they are just good quality photos, means they have been taken by a technically sound photographer who has very good equipment knowledge, hence the producer is a very skilled photographer but not an artist.
In today’s scenario, anyone who enters the world of photography and owns a camera attempts doing what the other person is doing and may do it very well, resulting into a very good photographer learning all the skill-sets to be one. To a new comer, the world of photography at times becomes limited by only going in the direction where others are going; as a result we continuously see similar pictures flowing all over. Everyone is attempting to reproduce what others have already done. That is why we often find it difficult to even distinguish between the authors these days because the work is just the same.
People entering the world of Photography often result in buying expensive gears and lenses, go to extravagant locations, and learn the best softwares to enhance their picture quality. That is what the sense of Photography has become.
The judgment of people is getting biased on their awareness of being exposed to flashy, bright, shining or most colorful and so called “technically” correct images which are circulating all around us. It takes a little more effort and understanding to distinguish between technically perfect images from an intense photograph, an artwork. Low light images may be read as underexposed pictures by people who have learnt to operate their cameras in technical terms. They overlook the mood and believe that any picture no matter what has to be extremely clear, sharp and technically accurate even though they were mesmerized by the moody foggy forest, which created the haze and an unclear view around them, still they would want to present the picture as sharp and saturated with colors and leave out that actual mood which in reality fascinated them. The result of which is sitting for hours manipulating a very beautiful mood into a technically perfect picture.
“For an artist, mood is the primary aspect of that capture and will not kill it for any reason”
For an artist, it’s more important to express the mood, an emotion, the story through his/her work keeping aside any other technicality.
Every image doesn’t necessarily have to be bright all the time, every image doesn’t have to be extremely colorful or sharp all the time, it doesn’t have to be a replica of the best picture that you saw last time, it has to be what it is or what you are or how you feel about it not always what others are or how others understand it, unless it is required for some given reason. One has to leave the baggage of presenting a replica of what the rest and the “best” ones out there are doing or have done.
One becomes more than just a skilled photographer when she/he can touch beyond the eyes. An artist doesn’t get into limitation of things; an artist doesn’t get into replication of things, even if she/ he may be inspired by some others or may be understood by fewer but will have the sensibility of looking at things in his/her own way, therefore showing the things in a unique way. Art is an aesthetic-selective recreation of values of an artist and can be understood by the people of similar connect. The aesthetic value plays the major role in making one an artist than merely a skilled Photographer, which anyone can be.
Photos become art when they say something, when they make you think, when they touch you emotionally, when they reflect a story, when they convey a mood.A photographer becomes an artist when one is able to provide these elements in every single work that she/he produces. One can learn to be a skilled photographer, but an artist is a natural.
I evaluate any work from the aesthetic point of view and an emotional content that it holds, if a photo has these elements its art for me. To me aesthetic is originality and technicality is acquired, I value original over the acquired.
All Images by Chanda Mathur who is a Shimla based photographer