When it comes to art many will argue that the medium used has to be able to be a form of expression and represent something more. By more I mean, if you look at a tree then it is just a tree, but if you create art of a tree then it means more than just defining a tree. This applies to all mediums of art and if the medium does not allow communicating ideas then it cannot be art.
It is a prerequisite for art to communicate something beyond the subject. What I am getting to is how photography transcends its medium to communicate these things.
Sure, if you look at photography at the most basic level, it is just pointing a camera at something and pushing the shutter. This can also apply to classic forms of art like drawing, sculpting, and painting before the person behind the medium is capable of communicating something with the subject they choose.
There are ‘haters’ in the art community that say photography cannot be art because it simply replicates what is possible in the other mediums and doesn’t add anything beyond that. A cheap knockoff of ‘real art’. I would argue that while photography is not creating a scene from scratch it is a creative output in nature on location. It is the art of realism when going out to locations, finding compositions, and processing them to the artist’s vision.
The Camera Obscura is a good example of what I want to communicate here. Leonard Da Vinci studied the human eye and compared it to this device which was used at the time by painters to create even more realistic scenes. It was a large box with a hole and simple lens to project an image on a wall where they would paint. This happens to be a distant relative of the cameras we know and use today working in a very similar way. A real bridge between traditional arts of painting and drawing to photography!
As the lens and the camera captures the subjects we see an expression of vision and intent of the artist. The way a photographer is just as artistic as any other artist is through their choices throughout the process. The medium can communicate a hyper-realistic scene as the eye sees it or something compressed/distorted to fit what the photographer means to communicate to the viewer.
At the end of the day, art is subjective. The viewer has the final say in whether art is good or not. If you are adamant that photography is not and cannot be art, please let me know how that is so. Otherwise, I would like to leave you with a quote from Andy Warhol about art and creating it.