Understanding A Photograph


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For more than 100 years, photographers and photography supporters have argued that photography deserves to be considered a fine art. It is hard to know how far the photographic professionals have succeeded to prove that photography is an art forum.

Animal Locomotion: Plate 590 (Nude Man Riding Horse), 1887
Shoot by Eadweard Muybridge

Certainly, the vast majority of people do not consider photography an art, even while they practice, enjoy, use and value it. The argument of photography supporters has been a little academic. It now seems clear that photography deserves to be considered as though it were not a fine art, as we can see there are lots and lots of types of illustration, are available in photography such as Portrait, Fine Art Portrait, Surrealism Portrait, Landscape, Street Photography, Fashion Editorial, Fashion Conceptual, Documentary, Documentary Portrait, Still Life, Nature and Ethnography Photography. All these types are consumed informative and aesthetical elements to do communication with viewers. That’s why photography is also changed.

As other art forums such as drawing, paintings are more definitional and rarer by their making or process. It means when any painter is creating a painting, he or she is making which is sometimes is not physically structured and painter gave structure – shape to his/her subject. But in photography, it is so hard to define rarity and realistic messaging. As we know, through exposure triangulation (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO) – Telephoto Lens – Macro Lens – White Balance Mode – Camera Picture Style or Photoshop helped us to make whatever we need or want. So, remember that when you (Artist) will see the subject with environment to shoot them as they are exactly looking by your eyes. According to Susan Santong and John Berger, it is possible, even if you change your aperture, change focal length of lens or use macro lens , it will change whole perspective of subject as it was looking through naked eyes. So, painting – drawing will show maximum reality of physical justification compared to photography. As other art forums such as drawing, paintings are more definitional and rarer by their making or process. It means when any painter is creating a painting, he or she is making which is sometimes is not physically structured and painter gave structure – shape to his/her subject. But in photography, it is so hard to define rarity and realistic messaging. As we know, through exposure triangulation (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO) – Telephoto Lens – Macro Lens – White Balance Mode – Camera Picture Style or Photoshop helped us to make whatever we need or want. So, remember that when you (Artist) will see the subject with environment to shoot them as they are exactly looking by your eyes. According to Susan Santong and John Berger, it is possible, even if you change your aperture, change focal length of lens or use macro lens , it will change whole perspective of subject as it was looking through naked eyes. So, painting – drawing will show maximum reality of physical justification compared to photography.

Shoot by Alfred Stieglitz
“My cloud photographs are equivalents of my most profound life experiences, my basic
philosophy of life. All art is an equivalent of the artist’s most profound life experiences.”

If we want to know about deep rhetorical understanding of “What is Photograph”, is exactly? So, we have to read about John Berger. John Berger wrote lots of essays, books, and articles of photograph. His two books Ways of seeing and Understanding a Photograph, are changed the world of art. John Berger tried to prove that his book (Understanding A Photography, Chapter 2) “It now seems clear that photography deserves to be considered as though it were not a fine art. It looks as though photography (whatever kind of activity it may be) is going to outlive painting and sculpture as we have thought of them since the Renaissance………. By their nature, photographs have little or no property value because they have no rarity value. The very principle of photography is that the resulting image is not unique, but on the contrary infinitely reproducible. Thus, in twentieth‐century terms, photographs are records of things seen. Let us consider them no-lose to works of art than cardiograms…………. Photographs bear witness to a human choice being exercised in a given situation. A photograph is a result of the photographer’s decision that it is worth recording that this particular event or this particular object has been seen. If everything there existed were continually being photographed, every photograph would become meaningless. A photograph celebrates neither the event itself nor the faculty of sight in itself. A photograph is already a message about the event it records.” In here, we will articulate John Berger words that “If we will shoot or creating an image, just for sack of clicking or shooting to make property of images to post on Instagram or for impressive reason, it is not going to become art. If all people are going to capture the same subject in same way then how it will be called art. Because Art is holding most interesting elements in itself, first is rare value of it and second is capturing a story, theme, situation, time period, places, life and especially aesthetical.

John Berger

In further, John Berger said that “Photography is the process of rendering observation self‐conscious.” It means photography is not create event, situations, nature, clouds, life, philosophy or thematic feelings compared to painting and drawing can. Because without subject we cannot shoot but even without trees, leaf’s, landscape, birds, clouds or sun, any painter can create a painting. So, now it is so much interesting, then how can we say that Photography is also an Art. It is not easy to define. If we will shoot something rare, new forum of story, necessary of dissemination, beautification of presentation, illustration of artistic feeling into an image, shooting more philosophical and Fine to understand, shooting to show philosophical – social – psychological feelings through aesthetic of composition, shooting to say more than words, shooting to real and understand – able subject to give effective impression on viewers, if we will use lines – shapes – perspectives – texture – depth of field – lighting – contrast in light and colours – human poses – similarity or contrast theory in our photography, then it can be called photography is closure to art. One big thing and value – able point come from his book (Understanding a Photograph) is that “photography is not creating a master piece. If you are clicking a portrait of auto – driver with butterfly lighting position and shoot any celebrity in same lighting position, will change your photograph lighting meaning and effects, it makes photography less artistic compared to painting.

Escalation Theory of photography is easier to understand a photography. In Escalation theory of photography, artist will shoot the subject by research of other forms of art such poems, short stories, novels, cinematic characters, essays etc. Escalation theory of photography gives more strong opportunities to artist to think about framing, lighting, theme.

Shoot by Dragos Ioneanu
Denmark based Photographer. (“Geometry in motion” – an architectural one and “White
sea”)

Points to Remember: –

  • Photography can become art forum, if it is captured in its true nature
  • Photography doesn’t mean that you can shoot 1000 images
  • There is small difference in between Photograph and Photography. Only click for a sack of making impression in room or clicking something through aesthetical point to give any type of feeling or emotion.
  • Photography is not called art, if photographer is clicking a picture because to impress other
  • Photography can be called art forum, if we are shooting in truthful process, timing is value – able element in art
  • Even in the name of Shapes – Lines – Perspective – Texture – Colors – Lighting – Lighting Position – Contrast in light and color – Emotions – Expression – Theme –Impressionism of History, Subject or Character – Utilization of Art Movement can make photography closure to art.
  • If artist or photographer will shoot portrait, landscape, nature, night life, fashion, still life, table top or experiment of photography and include his/her own input (thoughts, point of view, style, art movement theme, specific editing) to deliver more rightful, easy understand – able , effective impact is can be called Photography Art.
  • Photography is more than just clicking shutter. Though, photography is multi discipline in which Science of Machine, Philosophy of Artist Personality, Aesthetic of Art is included.
  • Photography means to show life, people, situation, time period, specific timing, emotions, living or non-living aesthetical presentation, textual presentation, escalation of humanity through photography or photo series or photo exhibition

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