This might be the argument most people use to prove that photography can not be art. It is not so complex like drawing a beautiful painting and spending hours on that. A photographer just needs to use one button and here we go. But is this really the truth? How do people think about Art and Photography today and how did they before? In this essay i want to compare on main focus two totally different photographers: Jeff Wall, who is famous for his “drawn photographies” and Nan Goldin, who is famous for her trivial photography, so the opposite. And then, i might get a conclusion of what photography really is.
The first photographer got their inspiration from paintings. For 180 years now people have been asking the question whether photography can be art or not. They say that they’re unable to boost the imagination. Its just a mechanical process that handles most of the work. This thought of course decreased by time because of the increasing number of photographers and different creative styles and techniques they’re using. But unfortunately this conception of photography as a mechanical recording medium never fully died away.
In the 1960s / 1970s Nan Goldin provoked all people with taking trivial pictures with real hard moral discussed topics like homosexuality, transexuality, love, drugs and self-destruction. In that days people were very superficial and didn’t want to see such scandalizing pictures which were obviously the truth. Nan Goldin was born in the USA and early confronted with death and tabu-topics. Her elder sister commited suicide at the age of 18. Nan Goldin was only 14 years old and begin to photograph one year later. She sliped iinto the dark scenes and had many bi-sexual and transexual friends which she photographed as a snap-shot. First, she got famous because of publicating these pictures with the sex- and gaymotives the upper classes don’t want to see and realize.
Then she were discussed whether she is an artist because of just doing snapshots. Thanks to Nan Goldin trivial photography was born, nowadays we also see documentation-photography for example in wars or which is also a part of trivial photography. These photographers don’t draw their pictrues, they just show the reality. The beauty or maybe the horrible reality. This is also art. Art is being creative, being the first person with a extraordinary idea and to ‘make yourself’ as an artist in the mind of the others with provocation or new ideas, new pictures people haven’t seen before. So Nan Goldin is.
On the other side, the same time about 1960s, early 1970s, Jeff Wall was a photographer who staged his pictures. He spend a lot of time for his art-direction and knew exactly how his photo should look like at the end. He was just like drawing his photographies. Different from Nan Goldin, she never knew how her pictures would look like at the end. Jeff Wall wanted to photograph his own creative motives he had in mind, his own world and show it to people. Many people may say that this is art, because he was thinking about his motives like a stage director. But this may be discussed also as unreal-artificial photographies and not natural. Nan Goldin put her desperation, her deeper feelings in her trivial photographies. Jeff Wall just created them. In fact, there is no way to conclude wheather this or that is art or isn’t because all viewers have a subjective feeling and opinion to the photographies they see. They may remind them to something in their childhood and appell to their feelings or they don’t. Its always the viewer who decides what he sees and what he feels. So he is also the one who decides wheather he is regarding art or not.
“Photography is only a mechanical process that handles all the work. So how can photography be art?”
So, photography can be art if you uses a total different method, somethin creative to let the world feel something. Feel exhausted or feel good. Art is always something creating new. So photography can be art by doing something new. Or telling a story with inscenated photography like jeff wall f.e. did. Photography can be art, although using a mechanical process. But it’s not done only that way of course.