Is (Minimalist) Photography Art?

As some of you know, I’m very passionate about fine art photography. In preparation for my newest collection of fine art prints, I asked myself: Is photography even art? And what about minimalist photography?

Well, many people would argue that photography is not art. Jonathan Jones, a British art critic is one of them. He says: “Photography is not an art. It is a technology.” and “…My iPad can take panoramic views that are gorgeous to look at. Does that make me an artist? No, it just makes my tablet one hell of a device.”

Interesting point of view. I think to be able to answer the leading question, I should approach in the first step what art is for me.

A rough definition of art

Wikipedia defines art as „ a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative talent expressive of technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas.“

The Oxford English Dictionary defines art as “…the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

A beautiful minimalist photograph. Is this art? For me, definitely yes! Photo by Benjamin dos Santos via Unsplash
Minimalist Photography by Wouter & Canon
A great example of minimalist photography – an interplay of
shades, lines and composition © Wouter and Canon under Fair Use

So art is a form of expression that can be appreciated by everyone. Whether it’s a painting, sculpture, photograph, dance, or any other type of art, it allows the artist to share their ideas and feelings with the world. It’s a way to communicate without using words, and it can be interpreted in many different ways.

Some people may see art as simply something that looks nice, while others may see it as a deep and meaningful expression of the human experience. However, there is no right or wrong way to interpret art. It’s up to the viewer to decide what they see in it.

And now back to photography. So according to this definition, all kinds of photographs are art, no matter the genre. But does that apply to my snapshot of yesterday’s lunch? Well, to any viewer who thinks my snapshot is art, it is – right?

Art is always a dialogue between the artist and the viewer.

Defining art is difficult. Maybe even impossible. For me, art is always a dialogue between the artist and the viewer. The artist sends something out into the world with his/her work and the viewer responds through his/her sensation (and I don’t mean any kind of interpretation etc. but the first, perceived sensation). From this point of view, photography is always art, even if it is „just“ a photo of my lunch.

There is a great quote by Oscar Wilde: “To define is to limit” – and with that, I would like to end my article for this week and let photography be what it is – namely the art of creating images by recording light.

What do you think? Is photography art for you?

About Exploring Aesthetics:

Sarah loves asking questions and exploring the things she engages with on a daily basis. Exploring aesthetics is her column which discusses art, design, and aesthetics to explore, inspire, and question the status quo.

  1. I think that photography can be seen as art because it is a way of expressing yourself and your ideas. It can be appreciated by others for its beauty or emotional power. However, I also think that it is up to the viewer to decide what they see in it.

  2. Oscar Wilde was definitely onto something when he said that “to define is to limit”. I think this is especially true when it comes to art. There are so many different interpretations of what art is and what it can be, that it’s impossible to truly define it. I think that’s what makes art so special and so interesting. It’s up to the viewer to decide what they see in it.

      1. Yes! It definitely is! For me, art is about expressing yourself and your creativity. Photography is a great way to do that so it is art for me.

  3. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include almost all significant infos. I’d like to look extra posts like this.

  4. As someone who appreciates both art and photography and takes photographs myself in my spare time, I agree with many of the points in this article. Art is indeed a form of expression that can be appreciated by anyone, and there are no set rules or boundaries that determine what is and is not considered art.

    The question of whether photography is art depends greatly on the perspective of the viewer. For me personally, photography is definitely an art form. It requires creative thinking, technical skill, and an eye for composition and light. A well-made photograph can be just as expressive and emotionally appealing as a painting or sculpture. Thanks for your thoughts on this!

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Aesence is an independent art and design publication dedicated to minimalist aesthetics. Founded out of a deep appreciation and fascination, Aesence aims to promote awareness and appreciation of minimalism in art and design.