There is a constant conversation. One that will never be satisfied or complete.
It goes along the lines as follows
Is photography an art form or an act of documenting what is taking place in front of you?
To my mind it's the same as the question
Do you eat or drink soup?
A lawyer friend once suggested that is wasn't the soup that was at fault but rather how you got it to your mouth in the first place. In a spoon from a bowl, you are eating, slurping from a mug and you are drinking.
In some ways the answer is irrelevant .. as long as the soup is delivered to my mouth I couldn't care. So it is with the Is photography art debate.
Except when it isn't. The creation of art starts with an intention. The desire to create something from what you see before you or from your mind's eye. There are those, that I envy with more skill than I will ever have, who are able to draw. I mean really draw, take what they see, interpret it, create in paper, mimic the colours and the shade. All of it. I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler.
That being said as I advance throughout this creative life I find myself with a deeper desire to create art for the sake of it. And so it was this year for the first time in many years I took a 'BIG CAMERA' away on holiday. I stopped doing that a good few years back, not wanting to be the guy with a huge bag, rummaging around for lenses and generally being a bore. So I took an old beat up Cannon 5D2, not that that matters much, a single wide angle lens and a ND filter because I know sunshine is bright.
I had images in my mind, sunsets, sunrises, pictures of old cities and beaches you know how it is. Then I thought a bit more and came up with an idea. What if I tried to make these things look more like paintings, in camera. That would be something different and without a doubt art.
Do not under estimate what I'm asking of myself here ... I'm that kind of photographer that likes crisp, clean images. Edges of light you can cut your finger on and contrast for days. So to produce a soft, painterly, watercolour pastel toned image is not my forte. Nobody who knows me would be surprised even a tiny bit at the picture of the waves crashing on the rocks above.
If however I was to put these next two images in front of anyone I suspect they might be very surprised that I took them.
Not only are they worlds apart from eachother but they are also worlds away from anything I have ever taken before. There are many more images to show and they will be released soon.
To answer the question .. yes photography is an art. It can take what is seen before us and the right artist can interpret that image to be something you would not expect. Something you would stare at for some time and would quite possibly make you think.